Wednesday, 7 March 2012
Hull City v Leeds Utd 6th March 2012
Thankfully the M62 was kind to me as I dashed across the Pennines to the KC stadium for the clash with the Codheads of Hull. The nearer I got to the East Yorkshire port the more cars I saw bedecked in Leeds. Strange how that gives you a glow of anticipation? The LUFC extended family on the march once again.
After depositing the car in the vast car park I made my way to the home of the Tigers. It was bloody cold. Winter had certainly returned to Codhead country! So naturally Justin turned up with only his Leeds top on and a scarf round his neck to keep out the biting cold. He made me feel cold just looking at him. The team news was as expected with Webber replacing White and Connolly filling in for Bromby at right back. New signing, left back Paul Robinison, was on the bench. I’m sure he used to play in the goals when he played for us first time round didn’t he? Optimism amongst another massive away following was high after Saturday’s heroics although Big Steve brought a bit of cold reality to the pre match discussions as he offered his rather downbeat take on events against the Saints. Mmmm.... I still thought Ross Mac would secure Leeds a win whilst the Happy Chocker wagered a cheeky bet on Clayts scoring the last goal.
The atmosphere in the stadium was full of derby day electricity as the game got under way. Leeds started well and within two minutes Becchio found space in the box but fired high over the bar. Would tonight see the first goal of Colin’s reign as Leeds manager? He had set his team up in the same 126.96.36.199 formation he deployed at Pompey. The less than perfect pitch wasn’t conducive to pretty football not that either team seemed intent on playing anything other than a high tempo, frenetic pressing game. The opening salvos were not for the faint hearted as both teams went at each other like hammer and tongs. Hull made their intention clear on how they were going to deal with the threat of Snoddy..............clatter him every time he got the ball but taking it in turns so as not to earn the wrath of the rather lenient Mr Atwell. Snoddy did escape the roughhouse tactics long enough to whizz a shot just the wrong side of the post. 10 minutes gone and Leeds had started brightly.
But Hull are not in the position they are by luck and they began to get the upper hand in the game as their midfield coped much better with the bobbly pitch than their West Yorkshire counterparts. On twenty minutes a slick move by the home side released Stewart in space in the box but he fired high and handsome. Leeds soon replied as Becchio tried to get some power on a header from the penalty spot but the Hull keeper saved easily. The game was tense and a shade on the scrappy side “It’s just like last year’s game” HC commented. As the half wore on Hull became more dominant. Lonergan had clearly taken inspiration from the Saints goalie as he pulled off a string of excellent saves as Koren (twice), Evans and Stewart all tried their luck with stinging shots but Lonners was equal to all of them. Maclean also missed a header when he was left unmarked from a corner. Half time couldn’t come quick enough as Leeds began to wilt under the pressure. It was still 0.0 though as Mr Atwell blew his whistle for half time. “It might be cold out here but I bet Colin will turn up the heat in the dressing room” I mused.
The 2nd half continued as scrappy and frenetic as the first but Leeds did get more of a grip of the game but with the ball taking the aerial route all too often it wasn’t pretty to watch. By now Snoddy had been fouled at least 467 times but Mr Atwell still didn’t produce a yellow card until the 85th minute by which time his body must have been black and blue. Lonners produced his best save of the night to keep the game goalless whilst at the other end in truth Leeds struggled to really threaten the home goal. Too many attacks fizzled out to nothing when looking promising. Leeds did work tremendously hard though but in the end the game finished as it looked as it might do for most of the match, 0.0. The 2nd clean sheet in three games would indicate that Colin has worked a miracle with the defence. Both O’Dea and Lees look full of confidence in front of the excellent Lonergan. Connolly struggled at right back but Pugh again looked a lot more solid than of late. Could it be the arrival of Paul Robinson has focused his mind? This was an ugly performance that yielded a point whereas under Lord Larry I am sure we would have lost. A point at Hull is always a good return and tonight was no exception. Becchio battled well again as did Webber until he tired and was replaced by Sam.
The long drive back to Trafford soon went by. Leeds are now difficult to beat and although I think it’s too late to hit the play off’s we can look forward to upsetting a number of teams before the season closes starting with a strong Boro team on Sunday. After three goalless games surely we must score at the Riverside? I do hope so!