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Saturday, 11 March 2017

Leeds Utd v QPR. March 11th 2017.

Way back in the dark days of August Leeds Utd were humbled at Loftus Road in the first game of the season. The Leeds team sheet that day had names such as Diagouraga, Grimes, Bamba and Antonsson on show. Jansson was still an unknown Swede on Garry Monk's wish list, Cook had departed to  Bournemouth and to top it all Berardi went off injured after 22 minutes. Ex QPR keeper, Green, had a horrendous debut so all in all the depressing trip back from West London was an absolute worryfest of how we could possibly avoid relegation to League 1 with this collection of clueless, journeymen footballers. How times change.

If any fan had then suggested Chris Wood would pass 20 goals for the season with ease by March, Rob Green would become the best keeper in the Championship and our defence would become as mean and miserly as Scrooge they would have been deposited at the local institution for the clinically deluded in double quick time. How things have changed as we welcome QPR to Elland Road for today's crucial championship game and huge credit for that transformation lies at the feet of Garry Monk and his coaching team. The fact that Garry Monk is still the Leeds head coach is a miracle of epic proportions given the track record of Cellino's hair trigger finger. To be honest it's all a bit surreal for your average Leeds fans who have dieted on disappointment, frustration and a distinct absence of hope for the last decade.

30,000 hopeful fans had descended on Elland Road for the game hoping to see Leeds take another step to the play offs. Monk selected both Bartley and Ayling who were one booking away from a 2 match ban. Vieira came back into midfield along with Hernandez and Wood returning up front. QPR started the livelier with the fleet footed Connor Washington and Luke Freeman catching the eye for the visitors when they had the ball. When they didn't have the ball they formed a formidable back five and midfield four to challenge Leeds to break them down. Even the repetitive new chant of "Luke Ayling and Berardi, Pontus Jansson Kylie Bartley" couldn't inspire a strangely ponderous Leeds in the early stages. On 13 minutes Washington sprung the home defence only to see his shot expertly saved by Rob Green on his 600th appearance. Mmmmm not the start we hoped for? On 34 minutes things got worse as Ayling clattered into a 50/50 tackle and received a harsh yellow card that keeps him out of the next two games. Bollox!

The game was hardly easy on the eye. Leeds had the Lion's share of possession but stuttered and spluttered to open up the QPR defence. Wood hardly saw the ball as the three QPR centre backs smothered the few balls that came his way. When the visitors did have the ball they broke far too easily for my liking to pressurise the home defence. This was definitely not going to plan and even worse there didn't seem to be anybody on the pitch in a white shirt who had the quality to unpick the Rangers defence. Just before half time Roofe threatened when he cut inside but his shot went wide. Half time 0:0. The eerie silence of the Urinal philosophers told it's own story. Very few highlights from the first 45 minutes but at least the teams around us were struggling as well. Surely a good half time team talk from Monk with a little tweaking of the tactics would do the trick? Well as it happened Nope!

The 2nd half played out to the same pattern as the first as the home crowd became more and more frustrated with misplaced passes and poor final balls from the under par home side. "Has Smithies touched the ball yet?" I enquired as Sacko replaced Roofe on the hour mark. Maybe this would be Sacko's chance to drop his tag as a massively frustrating player with lots of potential...........Mmmm not quite. On 68 minutes there was a flash of hope as Wood connected with a Hernandez cross but his header went wide. Minutes later Sacko finally hit a lovely cross into the box.............Wood tumbled to the ground and the ball cannoned off the QPR centre half safely into Smithies hands. "Does that count as a shot on target" I mused as I still couldn't remember Smithies having to make a save.

Doukara came on for Leeds to try and pinch a winner but in reality it was QPR who looked the most likely to snatch a win in a very dour stalemate. A lot of the crowd were heading for home as the 4 minutes of added time started. Not surprisingly it ended 0:0. Very, very frustrating for the home fans. Credit to QPR they came with a plan and implemented it perfectly to blunt the Leeds attack. Leeds didn't manage one shot on target. The point was better than the performance with Reading and Sheff Wed both losing but Fulham's impressive win at Newcastle has certainly jangled the nerves of the teams in the play off places. They are now just 2 points behind Wednesday with a game in hand. Maybe Tuesday's point at Craven Cottage wasn't too bad after all?

Squeaky bum time is definitely here until the final match at Wigan. Next week's clash with Brighton is huge but I can't see the Seagulls defending as QPR did which might give Leeds a bit more room to attack. Steady nerves needed by all concerned though as we enter the final straight of a fascinating season. Tighten your seat belt it's going to fun!

Can't wait.

MOT

PS I'm away on holiday for the Brighton game so there will be no blog but I will be willing the team on from deepest darkest India....#DelhiWhites

5 comments:

David Evans said...

Thanks for the quality report.
Tense few weeks to come.
Have a great holiday.

David Evans said...

Thanks forthe excellent report.
Tense few weeks coming up, let's hope the boys can do handle it and get back to the premier league.
Enjoy your holiday.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Good read as always enjoy the Super Marigold hotel

mixermac said...

Not so much a comment Andrew as i just wanted to contact you.As a Leeds fan here in the west of Ireland i just spotted a link on Twitter for the Made in Leeds channel, and so was delighted to be able to watch you on the programme. You mentioned your favourite all time Leeds Utd player was Johnny Giles. You may have heard this already but recently Johnny did a podcast with his friend Eamonn Dunphy where he talks about his early years in Dublin, his time at Man U and of course at Leeds Utd. Keep up the good work and this is a link to Soundcloud. All the best,Michael
https://soundcloud.com/thestandwitheamondunphy/ep-30-in-conversation-with-john-giles

Andrew Butterwick said...

Mixermac,
Thanks for the kind comments and the copy of the Giles podcast.
MOT

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