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Sunday, 7 May 2017

Wigan Ath v Leeds Utd. 7th May 2017.

Even the dawn chorus wasn't awake as I dragged myself out of bed for the final game of a fascinating season for Leeds United. We might have blown our play off hopes on the final run in but that wasn't going to stop 5,000 Leeds fans enjoying the last away day in style. Wigan was bathed in sunshine as we made our way to Wetherspoons for some pre match refreshments and despite the clock only just getting past 10am the place was rammed with Leeds fans enjoying the season's last hurrah. There was a party atmosphere amongst the fans as the disappointment in missing out on the play offs was soon swept away by copious amounts of alcohol and the anticipation of putting on a fitting finale to the campaign against a Wigan team already consigned to playing League One football next season. Mmmm!

The team news was interesting. No Cooper or Taylor. Ayling at centre back with Coyle at right back and Berardi on the left. Vieira and O'Kane in midfield and Roofe, Hernandez and Dallas behind Chris Wood up front. The away end was packed in stark contrast to the sparsely populated other 3 sides of the ground. Now if we could just get an early goal you never know................I mused as chants of "Sign Garry Monk" gave way to "14 goals who gives a f***, we're Super Leeds and we're going up" Leeds started the game with a bang as Roofe and Hernandez went close in the first two minutes giving a large dose of false hope to the eager fans behind Rob Green's goal. That false hope lasted until the 6th minute.

Leeds's Achilles heal in recent weeks has been their inability to stop the opposition midfield flooding through their ranks when a Leeds move breaks down. Relegated Wigan were about to demonstrate that flaw in all it's glory as Jacobs scampered through the middle before releasing Tunnicliffe who rounded Rob Green to give the Latics an unexpected lead. 1.0 Wigan. "15 goals who gives a f*** we're super Leeds and we're going up" sang the defiant away fans with more than a touch of irony. Wigan's goal rocked Leeds as they struggled to gain any sort of foothold in the game. The wonderfully named Omar Bogle was giving the Leeds temporary centre back pairing a torrid time whilst the porous Wigan defence was coping easily with any attack the erstwhile promotion hopefuls tried to launch. This wasn't going well.

As the half progressed Wigan gained in confidence and tested Rob Green on more than one occasion. Green even got a yellow for delaying a throw in after chasing a long ball into touch. As half time approached Leeds at last stirred from their slumbers as Vieira, O'Kane and Berardi all had efforts blocked or found the empty seats behind the goals. HT 1.0 Wigan and it could have been more. The urinal philosophers were mellow but realistic. "That was shite" said one fan. "They're already on the beach" thought another harshly whilst a final fan said "why can't we play for a full 90 minutes" as he anticipated a more inspiring 2nd period.

Garry Monk sent out his team early for the 2nd half presumably with the proverbial flea in their ears? Would they respond though? We were about to find out. Leeds started with the urgency that was missing in the first half and within 3 minutes they got their reward as O'Kane dribbled into the box before going to ground with the slightest of touches from Wigan's goal scorer Tunnicliffe. PENALTY. Mmmm not sure myself but that didn't stop Wood grabbing the ball and placing it on the spot with the Leeds fans baying for Berardi to take it. Not a chance with Wood needing just the one for 30 goals in the season. Wood calmly rolled the ball into the net despite the ref trying to unnerve him before he took it. 1.1. Now can we put on a show for the final 40 minutes? Initially it looked as if we would.

Leeds now looked the more likely. Roofe rattled the bar with a superb volley before testing the Wigan keeper with a header. This was more like it. O'Kane was now driving through from midfield instead of getting caught in possession. Hernandez was buzzing around looking for openings and Dallas was coming inside looking for the ball. Then just when we seemed to be building up a head of steam we had the wind taken out of our sails as Vieira, contrary to the song, gave the ball away as he passed back to Green........Bogle rounded Green but couldn't find the net due to some last ditch arms, legs and bodies stopping the shot. The game then became more scrappy as the half progressed. Pedraza and Sacko replaced Hernandez and Dallas. Unfortunately Sacko had his frustrating lack of confidence head on as he continually turned the ball back inside instead of taking his man on. Pedraza had his moments but the game drifted away to an inevitable draw. A disappointing end to a what was for a long time a promising season.

The Leeds fans stayed to deafen the team with their appreciation at the end. Certainly nobody could be in any doubt about their wish to see Garry Monk signed up for next season. A poor game to finish with which probably showed all too well the areas that need strengthening over the summer. News that Taylor had refused to play in this game filtered through as we made our way home. The young left back has made a massive mistake with that decision regardless of his reasons. In the majority of fan's opinion refusing to play for the team is a cardinal sin that will never be forgiven. Such a sad end to the day.

So another season comes to an end. One that tantalisingly showed for a long time the chance of making the play offs only for the team to be found wanting in the final run in. Garry Monk has done a fantastic job and hopefully will be given the chance to build on this over the summer and into next season. As ever we've had some gut wrenching disappointments but tempered with some genuine magic moments watching the mighty whites. Who can forget Jansson scoring and then celebrating in the crowd at Norwich and then young Vieira hitting the winner? Beating Brighton at Elland Road and what for me was a pivotal moment of the season beating Sheff Wed at Hillsborough. Shall we do it all again next year? Course we will God willing! Now when are the fixtures out?

Thanks to all my blog readers for reading my musings and thoughts on the mighty whites. I hope you all have a good summer and we come back stronger next August. Thanks to Garry Monk, his backroom staff and the players who have put some pride back into Leeds United and not forgetting the fantastic fans who make Leeds United what they are.

Don't forget there will be some tasty potential local Derby's to look forward to next year.......Huddersfield, Bradford, Sheff Utd, Hull, Boro, Scunny, Sheff Wed.............

Can't wait.



Anonymous said...

Always love your summing up of Leeds games TOALF ...big fan here in Ireland so only get over for a few games a season ..not bad this season Villa & Norwich at Elland Road and Fulham Away. Anyway looking forward to next season already "CANT WAIT" keep up the great work MOT

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments. MOT

Anonymous said...

Hi Andrew
Thanks very much for all your work throughout the season, it is a shame that you do not have a regular article in the YEP. It is great that you tell it like it is , warts and all and very much appreciated by this arm chair southerner supporter. Have a great time until the new season when we start all over again, bring on the heart pills and the alcohol!!!

Unknown said...

Have a great summer.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Thanks for such comprehensive reviews I always look forward to reading your take on the games. I do still go but nowhere near as much as in previous years so your articles give me a feeling of the atmosphere, and for that I thank you.

Anonymous said...

Always my first post match read Andrew. I like your approach of enthusiasm, tempered with honesty.
Looking forward to reading more next season.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for all the kind comments. Glad you enjoy the blog. Roll on August!

Wigan Fan said...

Nice Post and Good Luck next season as a young lad Leeds where my 2nd team...

Andrew Butterwick said...

Wigan Fan,
Thanks and good luck to you.

Unknown said...

Superb as ever and it's been a priveledge to carry your superb blogs on our site.
Can't wait until it starts again in August
One day Andrew, one day it will be all ours !

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