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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Leeds Utd 3:0 Oxford Utd. 28th Aug 2012

With work finished for the day I pointed the faithful Scirocco eastwards on the M62 towards the Theatre of Hope.  Midweek games are always a rush even for home games and consequently create a different matchday atmosphere. Your head is still full of work issues competing with thoughts about the forthcoming game but as Elland Road comes into sight football starts win the mind games. Once in the sparsely populated members bar accompanied by a sumptuous helping of Chilli con Carne and a pint of Boddingtons I'm 100% in game mode though.  What team will NW pick to beat the team from the land of Inspector Morse in the latest round of the Capital One Cup?  Part of the mystery was solved by the injured Norris stood on stage in the members bar indicating that Becchio, Ross Mac, Kenny and Varney would all warm the bench.  Mmmm not sure I like the idea of "resting" too many players but it does give a chance for Byram, White, Ashdown, Gray and Michael Brown to get a full run out as well as the battered body of Mr Kisnorbo.

Nearly 14,000 fans had made it to LS11 including a decent number from Oxford.  Diouf and Gray started up front for Leeds as the game kicked off in bright, late sunshine.  Oxford started the better as they eagerly grasped the opportunity to pit themselves against higher league opposition encouraged by their perfect league start of three wins out of three.  Jamie Ashdown deputising for Paddy Kenny was the busier of the two goalies in the first 5 minutes as Oxford knocked the ball about with ease and created at least one decent half chance.  For a League 2 side they looked good but in El Hadj Diouf Leeds had some extra quality and his silky ball holding skills drew a couple of late challenges resulting in free kicks to Leeds. 15 minutes had ticked by and the game was shaping up very much like the Shrewsbury game with the visitors gaining the upper hand as Leeds looked a tad lethargic.  I exchanged a worried glance with the Happy Chocker after all we have had our fair share of "disappointing" Tuesday night games in the recent past.  Was this going to be another one?

The answer to that question was emphatically rebuffed in a ten minute spell that lifted the home crowd inspired by the Leeds young guns.  First Aidey White's infectious energy won him the ball and he tore into the Oxford defence before cutting back and rolling the ball across the edge of the box for The Beast, Ruddy Austin, to smash a stinging drive into the Oxford net.  Get innnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! A bolt from the blue from our favourite Jamaican. "Ruddy Austin's having a party, bring your Rizlas and Bob Marley" belted out from the kop.  The goal stung Leeds into life.  Suddenly everybody wanted the ball with Austin, Diouf, White and Byram weaving passes around the Oxford defence as if the played a life time together.  Oxford were on the ropes like a boxer stunned by a sudden upper cut.  Leeds went for the kill.  What followed next will stay long in the memory of all 13,798 fans in the famous old stadium.

Diouf started the move by toying with the Oxford midfield before playing what seemed like an innocuous ball into Byram on the edge of the box.  In a flash he dropped his shoulder and turned his defender before delicately flicking it by the 2nd would be tackler to leave himself with just the goalie to beat from 16 yards out.  Cool as a baby cucumber that's been in the freezer for a month he played a sublime chip over the goalie and into the net.  As the ball past over the goalie there was a gasp from the crowd not really sure if they had seen what they'd seen but as the ball nestled in the back of the net and Byram turned away a massive roar greeted one of the best goals seen at ER for a long, long time.  2.0 Leeds and we were cruising.

The boxer was now staggering and Leeds pushed on for the knock out blow.  Austin smashed a free kick into the wall and soon after Diouf so nearly screwed the ball past the oncoming goalie after more good work from White.  Half Time 2.0.  Austin was king of the midfield and Byram was once again showing what a talent he is for such a young age.

The 2nd half got under way with Leeds playing towards the packed kop.  An early Diouf corner created a scramble in the penalty area with the ball running out to Pearce who had his legs pulled from under him just as he was going to fire home the third. PENALTY! But no the ref just waved his arms like a windmill and played on.  I hate it when ref's do that.  I mean he was all of three yards away from the incident so he couldn't possibly have seen it could he! Bast***!  Next up Austin decided to try his luck from 30 yards and crashed the ball against the bar and into the adoring kop.  He is already a cult hero on Planet Leeds.  Diouf was enjoying himself as well as he teased the Oxford defenders with his mazy dribbles.  On one such run he pulled a delightful ball back from the bye line for Byram to scream a volley inches over the bar.  If that had gone in Sam Byram would have given the freedom of Leeds!  In between the Diouf, Austin and Byram show Aidey White was flying about like Speedy Gonzales causing havoc in the Oxford defence when ever he got the ball.  With steadier finishing he could have had a hat trick.  Tuesday nights aren't that bad after all I mused.

Tom Lees got the inevitable third as he headed in another terrific Diouf cross on 75 minutes.  Leeds played out the remaining of the game with little trouble.  Poleon replaced Diouf who received a standing ovation.  Will this be his last Leeds game? Zac Thompson replaced the imperious Austin and finally Peltier came on to allow Byram his own standing ovation.  The game ended 3.0.  Yes it was against League Two opposition but  suddenly Leeds have an edge about them that they didn't possess last year.  Byram and White were outstanding and with Diouf weaving magic with the ball at his feet and Austin owning midfield there was only ever going to be one winner.

Despite Byram's wonder goal my MOM was Austin.  He was all over the pitch breaking up play and playing good passes as well as getting forward to support the front two.  No wonder the Essex Police couldn't find that Lion....I think Ruddy must have eaten it!  The only negatives of the night were Gray and Kisnorbo.  The former had a very quiet game and the latter just doesn't look fit at all.  At least twice he was done for speed by a labouring Oxford forward.  Not nice to see.  The years of injuries would appear to have taken a toll on poor old Paddy.

So were in the 3rd round draw and a confidence boost ahead of Saturday's clash with Blackburn.  Not a bad night's work.  Norwich at home in the next round anybody?

Can't wait.

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