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Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Leeds United v Coventry City 18th Oct 2011

There was a time when any match on a Tuesday night would strike fear and apprehension into any follower of the mighty whites.  That was when we couldn't win a midweek game for love nor money but this season all has changed as we've rediscovered the midweek winning habit with the obvious exception of the Salford Yanks game.  So my confidence was high as I crossed the dark and foreboding Pennines for our clash with Coventry City.  After Fridays five star performance against Donny Coventry at home offered no real worries over harvesting another 3 points for our championship campaign.  I could even feel another clean sheet coming our way as we had our usual pre match refreshment and match talk. HC was even speculating on a 3.0 win for Leeds.  Hopes were high.

News that Lonergan would miss the game and then be out for the next 6 weeks was a big blow but Paul Rachubka is an able deputy and shouldn't let us down I thought.  The atmosphere inside the Theatre of Hope was flat as another poor crowd of just over 21,000 braved the chilly West Yorkshire weather.  Even with the game priced at the lowest category C level the stadium was only half full.  Leeds opened brightly taking the early initiative.  Snoddy made good use of the space Coventry gave him as he teased the visiting left back.  Crosses from the Scotsman's left and right foot created chances for both Ross Mac and Keogh but none turned into goals.  Things were looking good as Leeds dominated the first 15 minutes although Coventry soon showed that they couldn't be taken lightly as a rasping shot from one time Leeds target, Clingan, was parried away by Rachubka straight to the feet of Jutkiewizc who sizzled a shot inches over the bar.  Maybe this wasn't going to be a stroll after all?

Leeds were soon again pressurizing the Coventry goal though.  Leeds were awarded a free kick 25 yards out which Snoddy tested Murphy in the sky blue's goal with a dipping shot that he turned away for a corner.  Leeds kept the pressure on as the corner was scrambled away, retrieving the ball and feeding Snoddy on the right who danced towards the box before teeing up Connolly to drive a good cross into the heart of the Coventry box...................the ball was not cleared.............up popped Pugh or was it Howson? No it was O'Dea who rifled an unstoppable shot past Murphy. 1.0 Leeds and surely the floodgates could now be opened?

Clayton was buzzing about in midfield and whilst Leeds never reached the heights of their domination against Donny they were well in control of a scrappy game as they pressed for the all important 2nd goal.  But chances came and went.  Keogh swapped passes and got to the bye line before picking Ross Mac out just 6 yards out but he ballooned his shot over the bar.  The game headed for half time with Leeds looking more and more likely to bag another goal..............but it didn't happen and they trudged off at HT just the one goal in front.  Shouldn't matter though as our new found solid defence was looking, well solid!

Coventry made two changes at half time with Bigirimana and Macdonald coming on for the ineffective Platt and Deegan.  Although this added a bit more fluidity to the away side's game Leeds were still in the box seat. Clayton finished a sublime move latching onto a Snoddy pass and weaving into the box before shooting too close to Murphy.  After that Leeds seemed to take their collective foot of the gas and allow Coventry more and more possession.  The Sky Blues grasped the opportunity with both hands and started to knock the ball about with confidence as Leeds did exactly the opposite in choosing to concede possession back to the away team, usually by a good old fashioned hoof down the field, every time they got the ball.  A change was needed and on 70 minutes Lord Larry did just that, but strangely he took off the two most likely players in white shirts, Keogh and Ross Mac and replaced them with Forssell and Becchio.  I say strange because what was needed was fresh legs and ideas in midfield where we were looking decidedly second best.  The move back fired big time.  Any hoofs up the field were at best flicked on and not held up as possession was just continually frittered away by the home side.  The frustration in the crowd grew with each minute that passed.  The only saving grace was that the defence did look pretty solid and Coventry were relying on hopeful balls into the box which were in the main dealt with easily by O'Dea and Lees.  In midfield Howson and Clayton had suddenly gone on the missing persons list.

The clock ticked excruciatingly slowly towards 90 minutes as Leeds clumsily tried to close the game out.  Then as the game entered added time disaster struck.  A simple ball into the box went straight to Rachubka who made a complete hash of trying to catch the ball and dropped it at the feet of a grateful Coventry player who gleefully slotted home the equaliser.  Triple f****** Bollox!  Virtually the last kick of the match and we'd thrown 2 points away, 2 points that would have propelled us to 5th place in the table!

As the crowd streamed away from the ground frustrated fans were venting most of their anger at the double substitutions and the fact that we sat back too much in the 2nd half.  For me it was simple we just gave too much of the ball away in the second half after spurning good chances to kill the game off in the first half.  Despite continuing our unbeaten run it definitely felt like a defeat as we trudged home seething at the way we had just thrown away a game we should have won comfortably.  Football's a funny old game at times.

I should just about have recovered from this disappointment by the time we get to Posh for the High Noon game on Saturday.  Back to winning ways me thinks?
Can't wait!

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