Sunday, 15 April 2012
Leeds Utd v Peterboro 14th April 2012
The platform at Selby station was noticeably absent of a number of the regular mighty whites fans as we boarded the train for Leeds. The recent dramatic dip in form and failure to make any sort of challenge on the play off positions had finally taken its’ toll on the resolve of a growing number of Leeds fanatics. The Happy Chocker, Quiet One and brother Chris were still prepared to witness another dose of whatever Leeds could throw at us though. Optimism was in very short supply though even though we were playing Peterborough. As we walked behind the kop to the Captains Lounge the biting cold wind howled ominously across the temporary car park. “We must be mad” I offered..............nobody disputed the statement.
The team news raised a mild stir amongst the die hard fans............Billy Barndoor was starting after a season in the shadows. Was this the game he would finally show the Leeds public his worth? I had a sneaking feeling it would be so with the backing of a couple of pints inside me I wagered £2 on a Paynter hat trick at 80/1. At least that might spark a bit of interest in what was sure to be very much an end of season game. Other changes included Charlie Taylor in at left back and Robbie Rogers starting in midfield with Bromby at centre back.
The game kicked off and Leeds were immediately on the attack. Billy found space 20 yards out and Clayton found him with a slick pass............go on Billy I urged..........as he fired high and wide into the kop. But at least we seemed to have some urgency about our play unlike recent showings at the Theatre of Depression. The sparse crowd inside the famous old stadium were encouraged by Leeds’ bright opening. Young Taylor at left back showed some promise moving forward whilst Robbie Rogers strove to make good use of his rare start in the first eleven. His joy didn’t last long though as an injury to his right leg saw him limp off down the tunnel with barely ten minutes gone. He does seem to be quite injury prone? On his other start at Elland Road he was carried off concussed after a similar time. Webber replaced him as Leeds tried to attack Posh down the flanks at every opportunity. This might not be a bad match after all?
The goal gave the London roaders some impetus and they enjoyed a good period of play with the gypsy like Boyd displaying some of his silky skills in the Peterborough midfield. Surely Leeds weren’t going to surrender weakly yet again at Elland road? Time would tell. One factor that did appear to be working against Leeds was the referee as he ignored what seemed to be two good penalty shouts as Snoddy was felled in the area in quick succession. At least Billy was battling gamely as he tried to etch his name into the “players to keep” column on Mr Warnock’s note book unlike the back four who had Lonergan to thank for keeping them in the game when he thwarted a Posh attack with a fine block. Should have been 2.0 to Posh and game over though.
The game meandered to half time with frustration building amongst the weary Leeds fans. Then with the half time whistle ready to be blown Leeds got a smidgen of good fortune and Billy equalised in front of the kop. A deep cross came in from the right that the Posh goalie should have caught easily but under the challenge from two of his own defenders and an eager Billy lurking with intent he fumbled the ball and the Leeds number nine inelegantly bundled the ball into the net to the delight of the Kop. Billy celebrated as if he’d just scored a goal that secured promotion and even threw his shirt to a young fan in the crowd. 1.1.
The half time debate was still critical despite Billy’s first goal of the season. “Billy Barndoor’s played well but it was still shite” one urinal philosopher commented. “He can sell all of them for me on that performance” another moaned. The general feeling was one of relief though, in more ways than one, at Leeds finally showing a spark of fight in their play in front of their own demanding fans. In the home dressing room Warnock was exploding like an angry volcano pouring out his frustration at the naive defending and frivolous waste of chances by Leeds. Charlie Taylor’s game was cut short as Robinson replaced the unfortunate young full back. The pep talk had an immediate effect as Leeds hit Posh with a whirlwind of attacking that sliced their shaky defence into a million pieces. First Ross Mac took advantage of a looping ball to the back post courtesy of a huge Bromby throw in and a head on from Billy to smack home Leeds’ second quickly followed by his second as he rounded off a lightening break with Clayton and Webber both involved after a thumping headed clearance by Billy as Leeds strode into a 3.1 lead. This was better. The Posh defence was visibly buckling under the pressure of the Leeds attacks as the home side for once looked masters in their own back yard.
The ease with which Leeds were now controlling the game was not lost on kop as an ironic chant of “What the fuck is going on” drifted into the freezing West Yorkshire sky. All I needed now was for Billy to fire in his hat trick and I would be £160 better off. The considerable frame of the scouser was making a nuisance of himself as he looked to add to his classic first goal. He struck a volley from the edge of the box that had me out of my seat. If he gets a 2nd one it will be squeaky bum time I mused. On the 72nd minute the hat trick dream came alive as Snoddy teased the Posh defence down the right before releasing an overlapping Tom Lees who’s cross was converted by Billy to make it 4.1 to the once again mighty whites. Game over. Leeds dominated possession for the remainder of the game as I urged Billy to score just one more time.............please. He did go close twice as I started to see pound notes every time he touched the ball. Then just as he was clearly going to complete his hat trick he was outrageously substituted with a minute to go! He got a standing ovation from the appreciative Leeds fans as he was replaced by Becchio. Surely he’d done enough to earn further consideration for next year? Two goals and two assists. He does look like a Warnock type of player.
So Leeds ran out 4.1 winners. “Can we still make the play off’s” I joked as we streamed away from the Theatre of Depression. It was good to get a win at home and for once there were lots of smiling faces on the crowds leaving Elland Road. Paynter was the obvious benefactor from today’s performance. He’s not pretty but he was effective in providing some better link play with the likes of Ross Mac and Snoddy.
Blackpool on Tuesday night is next. Hope it’s a bit warmer than today and Leeds can continue their unbeaten run of one game?