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Sunday, 13 February 2011

Bristol City v Leeds Utd 12th Feb 2011

Train was the preferred mode of travel for our small intrepid band of Leeds fanatics as we headed south west for our clash with the reds of Bristol.  As we left the wet miserable climes of Yorkshire behind and passed through the Midlands sunshine and blue sky adorned the passing fields and factories as we pondered the forthcoming game.  Would Eric Lichaj, the new loanee, go straight into the team?  It was difficult to see any other player in the squad preventing that happening with  Paul Connolly sidelined by injury.  The debate over which formation Lord Larry would choose dissected the various pros and cons of 4.5.1 over 4.4.2.  Killa would certainly add clarity and pin point passes from mid field in a 4.5.1 set up but how can you drop Somma from a 4.4.2 line up that served so well last week? After much iteration we decided Lord Larry's job definitely wasn't an easy one and turned our focus to who would score the first goal.  After vowing not to waste money on silly bets at the start of the season we are in danger of slipping back into bad habits but Snoddy at 10.1 to score the first goal was too good to miss as both HC and yours truly wagered a cheeky fiver on the flying Scot doing the business.

Our arrival at Bristol station was an anti climax.  Cyberspace was alive with tales of a 2 to 3 hundred Bristolian welcoming committee. In practice there was a group of 5 spotty youths who meekly sung a belated chorus of "there's only one team in Bristol" as we passed them.  "Won't be much of a match then" I responded.  Their puzzled frowns indicated they didn't really understand my dry Yorkshire humour.  Pre match refreshment was taken in the Hole in Wall pub on the waterfront along with Gary and other members of the Leeds twitterati. The "which formation" debate was reignited along with much discussion over the merits or otherwise of our new fullback.  More importantly how the hell do you pronounce his name? Lee-Hi now took precedent over my rather misguided Lee- Chi!

As we arrived at the ground the team news filtered through that Somma had been unlucky as the 4.5.1 set up had been chosen to accommodate the return of Killa. After a cuddle with the Robins matchday mascot and walking the gauntlet of the numerous riot police we were inside the old traditional surrounds of Ashton Gate.  Lee-Hi did indeed take the right back spot as the game kicked off in bright sunshine.  The 2,000 away fans were housed in half of the stand behind the goal making for a crackling atmosphere as the both sets of fans tried to out do each other with the volume and variety of songs.  On the pitch Leeds were attacking the far goal and started brightly.  Killa, fresh from his exploits with his national team, was soon prompting and cajoling with a variety of crisp passes feeding our two voracious wingers, Mad Max and Snoddy. Lee-Hi's first touch was impressive as he robbed a hesitant Bristol player and fed the ball into a Leeds shirt.  I exchanged positive glances with HC.  My optimism with our new USA international soon reached the stratosphere as he won the ball and drove past two floundering Bristolians before releasing Mad Max in the centre of the field who had a couple of jinks before he rolled the ball onto Snoddy on the edge of the box..............Snoddy danced through 360' with the ball tied to his boot and then slid the ball past the calamitous James in the home goal.  1.0 Leeds and cue bedlam amongst the away fans especially two happy Selby Whites who had just trousered £100 thanks to a combination of Skybet and Snoddy!  The match was a sell out and the pulling power of the mighty whites became obvious as the celebrations for another wonder goal from Snoddy weren't confined to the official away stand.  Pockets of Leeds fans in all stands found the urge to let out a scream of "Get in you beauty" or words to that effect too much.  Stewards and riot police? moved to eject the fans who's only crime was not supporting the home team.  One fan in the stand adjacent to the hordes of Leeds fans took exception to being asked to leave and scuffled with the police before been dragged away.  Leeds fans in the away end then surged towards the barriers between the stands in a forlorn attempt to presumably vault the high fence to come to the fans aid.  Lot's of pushing,shoving and gesticulating ensued with the police as the game continued on the pitch.  Enough of a "confrontation" to justify some highly descriptive reporting of "Riot police called into to deal with crowd trouble at Bristol"

Leeds were looking good in possession without ever getting out of 3rd gear.  Killa was revelling in his busy midfield role, Lee-Hi was impressing with his cool, controlled play supplemented by a long throw that is reminiscent of a certain Rory Delapp, O'Brien and Bruce were looking commanding at the back whilst on the wings our dynamic duo of Max and Snoddy were again terrorising the full backs.  The only blot on the afternoon was a subdued performance from Luciano.  Bristol were looking edgy and hurried in possession but as the half wore on they settled enough to create a couple of half chances that a combination of Kasper and poor shooting easily dealt with.  The Leeds team headed for their half time cup of tea with the applause of their fans ringing in their ears.

I would love to report at this stage on the usual Gents debate but this week it is difficult.  I could relate comments like "Only one f****** toilet, what a shithole" or "they treat cattle better than this" or even "f*** it I'm having a piss behind the burger van"  What I can say is that the way those of us who needed to get rid of some of the pre match refreshment were herded into the inadequately sized toilet with all the skill of the unfortunate police officer who commanded his troops on that fateful day at Hillsborough all those years ago was quite frankly a disgrace.

Leeds kicked off the 2nd half attacking the end were the majority of their fans were still singing and urging their heroes on in a simmering atmosphere of tension. It was the Robins who so nearly upset the Leeds apple cart though as Clarkson fired a stinging shot into the side netting that had half of Aston Gate thinking they had equalised. Snoddy was soon back in the groove though.  Despite his growing reputation as one of the premier wingers in the country Bristol afforded him the luxury of more often than not only leaving only one defender for him to tie in knots.So when the ball was slickly moved to his twinkle toes on 50 minutes with space and a quivering full back in his sights the Leeds fans gasped in collective anticipation.  He glided past the full back and majestically strode into the box.  His teasing cross was blocked but fellow tormentor Mad Max was on hand to gleefully fire the ball home through a crowd of players past the despairing James.  2.0 Leeds. Get in!

Bristol were now visibly rocking and when Bradders rose to meet a cross from Snoddy it looked like he'd scored the killer goal only for the ball to scrape agonisingly over the bar.  The home team pushed on looking to get a goal back  leaving gaps at the back that were eagerly exploited by Howson, Snoddy and Mad Max.  Despite this the game reached the hour mark without any addition to the Leeds total with both Howson and Max guilty of poor final decision making when a goal looked inevitable.  Bristol themselves were now looking the more likely.  The post and crossbar were rattled and even the usually reliable Kasper came flapping for the ball and was grateful for a goal line clearance.  In between he redeemed himself with his usual collection of  super saves.  Somma and McCormack came on for the last 10 minutes and the South African should have added to his remarkable scoring record as he wasted a good shooting chance and then so nearly returned a fluffed clearance from James into an empty net. But the threat from Bristol was muted and yes the last ten minutes were tense but in the end Leeds ran out comfortable winners.  Remarkably we kept a 2nd consecutive clean sheet though I suspect a team with a tad more confidence in front of goal than Bristol would have spoiled that particular statistic.

Overall it was a strong commanding performance without ever reaching the heights of full control.  Snoddy was peerless once again.  If there is a better winger in the country at this moment in time then the Pope is not a catholic. I was impressed with Lee-Hi. he was strong and dependable in defence with good distribution to the forwards...........just what we want at full back and he's got a super long throw. Becchio had a subdued game for the 2nd match running but after his heroics this season he gets my forgiveness.  Killa was in fine form in the middle and Mad Max was always trying to match his fellow winger for invention.  Lord Larry has got the team in just the right frame of mind for the difficult "squeaky bum" period ahead.

The walk back to the station was long and gave plenty of time to replay the match in discussion.  A Bristol fan  suggested Leeds were the best team they had seen this year by a long way...........just as we were discussing how we should be keeping possession better, defending better and finishing better.  We can be slightly over critical at times can't we?  We passed three Leeds fans performing a ritual burning of a Salford Yanks shirt they had bizarrely found in the hedge bottom, best place for them I suppose.  The journey home was a nightmare of slow trains and missed connections that began to resemble a reprise of that classic Steve Martin and John Candy film "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" as we utilised Trains, Shank's pony, Taxis and Buses to finally get home at just after midnight.  Still with three points tucked in the promotion vault and a nice gap opening between the top 6 and the chasing pack it was all worth it...........honest!

Norwich at home next on the agenda.  Now that will be a tasty battle.  Bring it on.
Can't wait.
MOT


Bristol City 0 v 2 Leeds 12/02/2011

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hope you had permission to take the pictures in the ground and then publish them on a website

Marching on Together said...

This is a non commercial blog that records my thoughts whilst watching Leeds United. No monies are received for the blog or the photos.

Fresh Prince of Belle Isle said...

I like the Championship but I'll be happy to be shot of grounds like Ashton Gate and towns like Bristol. We have no right to be contending with these village teams either on or off the park.

Olav-Marius said...

Hello Andrew
Olav from Norway here. Maybe you remember that I met you prior to Brighton away nov 09. I`ve been following your blog since, and still enjoy both match reports, personal wiews of the team, play, club etc and some good details from your travelling around the country. A good alternative when you cant follow the Whites directly week in and out. I`ve been over to a few games since, and the next ones will be Sheff Utd away 19th of March, and the home game vs Reading in easter (with my wife, children, parents and mother in law):-). I might have a problem wit getting a ticket to the sheff Utd game. Any idea of how to? You need some loyalty points to receive a ticket from the Sheff utd club, and my loyalty to them won`t give me any. So if you know something, please let me know. Thanks, and keep up the good blog work. See you got followers world wide now. Olav

Marching on Together said...

Olav,
Good to hear from you Olav. If you are a member you can apply for the Sheff Utd game via the LUFC website. Alternatively keep a watch on the various web forums for any spares. If I hear of any how can I get in touch with you?
MOT

Anonymous said...

Don't kid yourselves, you weren't the best team at Ashton Gate this season - Swansea were by a mile.

olav-marius said...

Andrew
Thanks for your answer. Yes, I am a member but understand that you need a good number of away games on your "CV" to have any chance of getting a ticket. I got my Brighton ticket by following some seagulls forum, so I will do the same now. If you hear of any spare tickets I would be grateful to hear from you. You`ll find me on mail: olav-marius.andersen@t-fk.no or mobile 004741122672. Thank you:-). Olav

dave said...

just read ya blog mate,reminds me of my away days but only make elland road now though,roll on saturday cant wait to take 3 points of lambert,MOT

Marching on Together said...

Anon,
thx for the comments..........but I didn't say we were the best at Ashton Gate one of your brethren did. I thought we struggled to get out of 3rd gear at times. Certainly wasn't our best performance of the season. BTW nobody gets carried away following Leeds.....had more downs than ups.
MOT

Marching on Together said...

Olav,
I would ring the tkt office and ask if there are any tkx left regarding the Sheff U. You don't need loyalty for that match its just first come first served. You may be lucky because there is a large allocation.
MOT

Marching on Together said...

Dave,
Thx for the comments. Glad you enjoyed it. Keep reading and keep spreading the word.
MOT

olav said...

Andrew
Thanks a lot for your help again. Receiving a ticket among the whites would be splendid. In case you need my member number just send me a text or mail, and I will deliver promptly. Can`t wait:-) Olav

bristal landlord said...

Nice job Andrew i like more your
subcontractors Bristol ideas.hope every one appreciate this post.

Anonymous said...

millwall fan agree about the toilets this is a great blog love reading your stories

Marching on Together said...

Anon Millwall,
Thanks for your comments. Glad you like my ramblings. Is it me or are Leeds & Millwall fans getting closer through the wonders of cyberspace? LOL
MOT

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