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Sunday, 6 August 2017

Bolton Wanderers v Leeds Utd. 6th August 2017.

So another season of hope and expectation finally arrives. After a very encouraging pre season that saw the departure of Garry Monk and Mr Cellino but more significantly the arrival as 100% owner the smiling Mr Radrizzani and with it the sweet smell of a professional broom sweeping through the remains of the club at break neck speed. A new Head Coach appeared along with new players not only for the first team squad but also the development squad from all over Europe, Existing youngsters have been signed up on decent contracts, Elland Road is now owned by the club and fans have now been given real hope that this really will be the start of the road back to the's all a bit surreal but the proof of the pudding is in the eating. Could the new look Leeds United do it on a wet Sunday afternoon in Bolton? We were about to find out.

The ridiculous 4.30pm kick off time on a Sunday hadn't deterred the Leeds faithful as the allocation of 4,500 tickets sold out in 15 minutes. The Mighty Whites travelling army was on the move heading for Lancashire as I pointed the car west to join them. For those of a certain age 4.30pm on a Sunday used to be reserved for Jim Bowen on Bullseye, Harry Secombe on Highway or Robert Robinson on Points of View. Not today though as the only Points of View were who was going to play where in Thomas Christiansen's first starting eleven and whether those who had eagerly got the names of the new players emblazoned on the back of their new shirts had chosen the correct spelling!

TC's team selection saw Wiedwald in goal with a back four of Berardi, Cooper, Pennington and Ayling. Phillips and O'Kane were the anchors in midfield with Alioski, Hernandez and Roofe in behind Wood up front. No place on the bench for either Bridcutt  or Dallas.  The slate grey skies turned to rain as the game got under way. Bolton with their off the field difficulties preventing any new signings over the summer were a hotch potch of players left from last season and loanees cobbled together by Phil Parkinson. Their tactics were clear from the off. Launch every ball towards Gary Madine and look to feed off the scraps. Leeds however were keen to keep the ball on the floor and probe the giants in the home defence at grass level.

On six minutes Leeds won a corner after a swift counter attack. The applause for Bradley Lowery had just started as Hernandez swept the corner to Phillips who broke from the edge of the box to clip the ball beyond the Bolton goalie and into the net to send the away fans into raptures. 1.0 Leeds after the first real attack of the match. Sweet. The goal gave Leeds confidence and with Pennington and Cooper repelling the Bolton Artillery raining down on them things were looking good for Leeds. On 30 minutes Leeds were in first game heaven. The sprightly Roofe danced down the right flank before delivering a superb back post cross for Alioski who headed back to Wood inside the 6 yard box who's header cannoned in off the bar. 2.0 and carnage in the Franking Sense stand away end. This was pure gold from Leeds!

Leeds's joy was somewhat dampened 4 minutes later though as yet another howitzer came crashing down into the Leeds box........heads went up and the ball was cleared but Berardi was left on the turf clinging to his shoulder in agony. A stretcher was called and the Leeds warrior left the field with a dislocated shoulder. Ouch. Anita replaced him at left back. Roofe conceded a corner as Bolton attacked again. The ball was hoisted to the back post where Bolton had a significant height advantage. Madine came crashing in and thumped a header into the net. 2.1 and the home crowd came alive. "you're not singing anymore" they taunted the stunned away fans as Hernandez slid an exquisite ball through the Bolton defence to free Wood who scrambled the ball to Phillips who restored Leeds's two goal advantage. 3.1 Leeds. Now guess what song was belting out of the Franking Sense stand? Yep "you're not singing anymore" Karma.

Leeds played the rest of the half out in style. Alioski could have added to the lead after good work by Roofe. Half time 3.1 Leeds and the away side trotted off to thunderous applause from their adoring support. The urinal philosophers were in good form. "Phillips has scored twice.....unbelievable" one fan shouted whilst another saved his praise for Hernandez "Pablo's on fire today" he beamed. Of course we all needed the eternal pessimist to bring us back to earth with " we can still f*** it up from here" Mmmmm! The half time tannoy man did an excellent impression of Brian Potter from Phoenix Nights as he drew the Prize Draw with ex Trotter Stelios. Comedy Gold!

Leeds started the 2nd half where they finished the first in cruise control. Alioski again went near after more good work from Roofe before Anita stung the Bolton goalie's hands with a vicious drive from 25 yards. All was going well until another injury unsettled Leeds. Pennington fell awkwardly after another barrage of artillery balls and limped off in some pain. Who's going to centre half now was the question. Shaughnessy was the answer. "Who's this?" queried the bloke behind me emphasising the paucity of cover we have for defenders. The young lad from Ireland was certainly going to get a baptism of fire against the Bolton artillery.

It took just two nervous minutes for the young centre half to make a disastrous mistake as he tried to remove Gary Madine's shirt at a corner. Penalty! Le Fondre stepped up and smashed the ball past Wiedwald into the net 3.2 Leeds and still 22 nervy minutes to go. What Leeds needed was an instant reply and they so nearly got it. Leeds swept down the right flank with Ayling to the fore in a lovely move before releasing Hernandez who's shot rattled the bar with me already jumping to celebrate the 4th goal. The goalie never moved! Bolton now scented blood as Leeds looked vulnerable for the first time in the game. They poured forward with long ball after long ball looking for an unlikely equaliser. Nerves were jangling in the Franking Sense stand as the Leeds defence wobbled. With 5 minutes to go Sacko replaced Alioski. Not exactly the sort of defensive player you want to dog out the last few minutes. Unfortunately he exasperated the away fans with loose passes and an awful miss with the goal gaping to seal the game.

The minutes ticked away into a total of 8 added minutes. Leeds survived unlike my fingernails to register a 3.2 win.  Leeds at times looked like a well oiled machine with O'Kane, Phillips, Roofe, Hernandez and Ayling contesting the man of the match honour. In the end it was a good result that only added more emphasis to the need for bringing in more defensive resources. As usual the gridlock getting out of the Macron Stadium allowed plenty of time to reflect on the game. Definitely more positives than negative was my view and Kalvin Phillips is now joint top scorer in the championship. Now that's a sentence I never thought I would write!

Port Vale in the League Cup on Weds. Let's hope for another win to keep the momentum going for Saturday's visit of Preston.

Can't wait.


leeds watcher since 65 said...

Welcome back i enjoyed your account as always, i watched on tv what was the Gary Monk chant after we scored i could not make it out. Your memories of a Sunday at 4-30 spot on.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks leeds watcher. F*** Garry Monk was the chant. One I hope is consigned to the dustbin as we go forward!

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Ah! Not so clever

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