Saturday, 22 March 2014
Leeds ride their luck to tame the Lions.
One topic did manage to interrupt the talk of the takeover debacle. The return to Elland Road of a certain Mr V. Jones. Oh how we yearn for a midfield presence such as Vinnie Jones especially against Millwall. Misty eyed memories of goals, crunching tackles and that Leeds salute flooded back to fans of a certain era. Brian McD stuck with the same eleven that did so well at Burnley last week. 23,000 fans settled down for what was a vital game for both teams but for very different reasons.
Millwall still looked a threat though without really testing Butland in the Leeds goal. The quality of football on the pitch matched the awful weather as torrential rain sent the East stand fans scuttling to the back in search of shelter. Typical of the play was a shot by Wickham after Mowatt had created him space he ballooned the ball high into the South Stand. The game inched to half time with Millwall still having the better of the scrappy play. Then a tenacious tackle from Tom Lees ricocheted the ball up field where Capt Ross reacted first to gratefully run the ball into the box before sliding the ball between Forde's legs and into the goal from a ridiculously tight angle. This time I was out of my seat as the league's top scorer celebrated yet another goal in his prolific season. "How the f*** Danny Ings won player of the year in front of Ross is beyond me" HC commented pointing out that Ross Mac's goals have come playing in a bang average team whereas Ings has had the luxury of a decent team round him. Good point well made I thought. 2.0 Leeds.
Leeds so nearly made it 3 when Tom Lees of all people found himself free in the box but his shot was blocked and bounced away for a corner. Half time came with Leeds still leading 2.0. The urinal philosophers were quite succinct in their assessment of the half. "We're the better of 2 rubbish teams" on fan thought. "We might not deserve it but 2.0 is 2.0 and that'll do me" said one thankful mighty whites fan. I scuttled back to my seat to see Hollywood star and Elland Road cult hero, Vinnie Jones, milk his rapturous reception in front of the kop inevitably culminating in him leading a couple of choruses of Marching on Together. Delicious!
The second half continued pretty much as the first half finished with lots of endeavour and virtually no finesse. Beevers tested Butland with a low shot before Butland then grabbed the ball in the 6 yard box after a mad scramble. Smith flicked a header wide after good work by Mowatt in front of the kop but the longer the game went the more Millwall looked like scoring as Leeds seemed incapable of retaining any possession.
On the hour Holloway brought on the giant Maierhofer together with Jackson and DJ Campbell to try and get the goal that would give the Lions a chance of a draw. Leeds did create a couple of chances to kill the game off first Murphy trying an ambitious volley before Ross Mac shot wide after finding space down the inside right channel. That nattering feeling that we needed a 3rd goal was eating away at my insides as Millwall continued to push forward looking for a goal................and on 72 minutes my worst fears were realised as Campbell hit a stunning volley from a lay off from Maierhofer to reduce Leeds' lead. 2.1 Leeds and the nerves were now jangling like a hyperactive tambourine.
Austin conceded a free kick on the edge of the box. Garvin lined up for a shot that I was sure would end up in the Leeds net but thankfully floated high and wide. As the game entered the final ten minutes the Leeds defence resembled a scene from the Alamo as Millwall launched attack after attack into the heart of the home defence. Tonge and Hunt replaced Mowatt and Wickham. HC's had a puzzled look as he tried to figure out the logic of that move. Desperate blocks and tackles were now the order of the day as Leeds hung on for dear life. 5 minutes added time seemed like an eternity before Leeds caught Millwall on the break. Ross Mac crosses for Smith who's shot cannoned away for a corner. The final action of the match saw Ross Mac then Tonge so nearly get a 3rd for Leeds as Forde panicked in the away goal. Thankfully the ref's whistle blew and Leeds scraped home with a very welcome 3 points.
Nobody was under any illusions as the fans streamed out down a bitterly cold Elland Road. Lady Luck had for once shone on Leeds today as Millwall will count themselves unfortunate not to have returned to South Bermondsey with at least a point. Lees, Pearce, Wickham had reasonable games with Mowatt playing better than of late. This was an instantly forgettable and frustrating game highlighted by the deafening silence in the car on the way home. I wonder what Vinnie made of it all?
Bournemouth away on Tuesday night a game I will miss due to work commitments. Difficult to see anything other than another struggle for Leeds though. This season can't end soon enough for many fans.........oh and hopefully the off the field farce finally gets resolved. I'm not holding my breath though. Roll on the mighty Donny next week!