Tuesday, 20 September 2011
Leeds Utd v Salford Yanks 20th Sept 2011
Lord Larry chose to pick his strongest side with Bromby and Becchio coming in for Kissy and Nunez, whilst Sir Alex Rednose chose a virtual 2nd team with experienced players such as Owen, Berbatov and Giggs blending with fringe players of the class of Valencia, Carrick and Da Silva. Their strength in depth is quite frankly frightening. Still Leeds fans never take a backward step and they gave the men in white a tumultuous welcome as they marched onto the pitch cranking up the noise to fever pitch as the game kicked off.
To stand any chance Leeds needed to start well and lift the crowd to maximum volume and that's exactly what they did as the mighty whites forced an early corner in front of the visiting fans who'd made the long trip from Essex. "We never score from corners" I muttered as the ball flew to the far post........ Tom Lees rose and headed the ball goalwards and the ball pinged about the box like a demented pinball before Clayton's shot deflected for a corner. This was encouraging but the visitors survived the minor storm and were soon stroking the ball about the park with ease. Giggs strolled around midfield encouraging a one touch style of play that had Leeds chasing shadows. Owen was finding space at will and the famously porous home defence was already at 6's and 7's and the game wasn't ten minutes old. This didn't look good. Leeds' midfield four were submerged as the visitor's fluid movement both on and off the ball created acres of space that the willing Salford Yanks took maximum advantage of. The Happy Chocker and I exchanged glances that recognised this was going to be a long, long night.
A goal was inevitable and it came on 15 minutes as slick passing created space for Owen who turned Lees on the penalty spot and scuffed his shot into the corner of the net. What followed was painful to watch as the visitors totally dominated play. Owen got a 2nd on the half hour when he latched onto a ball in the box and speared the ball past Lonergan. Mmmm......at this rate they could get a hatful. Good job Berbatov was playing like he couldn't be arsed to break sweat or we could have shipped more goals. Leeds were trying hard but when we did finally get the ball off them it seemed to find it's way back to a red shirt in double quick time. Giggs made it 3 just before half time after nutmegging Lees and hitting a deflected shot past Lonergan. We got to half time still at 3.0 and we'd been lucky to get nil.
The half time team talk must have been difficult. Clayton had shown some subtle touches in midfield but other than that we had been totally outplayed and they didn't appear to have got out of 3rd gear. In the 2nd half Leeds pressed a lot more to some effect but it was like trying to attack a Sherman tank with a peashooter. Leeds did huff and puff and they never gave up but Man U had plenty in reserve as they stroked the ball around from one to eleven with consummate ease. They didn't even play with recognised centre halves ffs and at one stage Park was even playing that role and he's only 4' 10"! We had our best spell in the last 10 minutes but that could have something to do with the fact that they were down to 10 men............not because they'd had a man sent off but they'd run out of subs. You wouldn't have known though when they had the ball. The whistle went for full time and least we drew the 2nd half. This match was the ultimate benchmark in emphasising the massive gulf in class between the championship and the top of the Premier League and currently we are light years away from aspiring to that level.
Lord Larry said in his post match interview "nobody expected us to win and we didn't" Well actually there were a few hardened Leeds fans buoyed by pre match optimism and alcohol who did think we could but within 10 minutes of the start those thoughts were gone with the wind. Lightening didn't strike twice and the Salford Yanks fans enjoyed their Cup Final win. The Leeds crowd never gave up and were still creating high decibel levels as the game entered the last minute. Pity we don't get goals for the crowd's efforts?
So onto the big match of the week away to Brighton on Friday night. Much more important than this one. Will we benefit from this footballing lesson or not? Time will tell. We still need the squad strengthening though, Keogh is not a left winger and Nunez doesn't seem to fit in there either. You never know we might have someone else in before Friday. Brighton's a long way to go on a Friday night but it will be well worth it if we come back with three points. Roll on Friday.