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Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Leeds Utd v Kettering Town FA Cup replay

The thought on everybody's minds before the match was the possibility of a mouth watering trip to Greater Manchester to play the Salford Yanks. A disappointing crowd of only 10000 was expected at ER as we made our way to the Kop bar for a swift half to settle the nerves. The Happy Chocker had managed top lose the Quiet One between the Peacock and the Kop bar................very careless! So after a mini panic and finding the afore mentioned Quiet One sat quietly in his seat we proceeded to get in match mood.
Becchio was starting alongside Beckford and the dependable Hughes had got the nod over Crowe at full back. On the otherside Capaldi had given way to Aidey White. A nice strong team to sweep away our non league opponents. Any pre match nerves were soon dispelled as Leeds started in a hurry and ravaged the Northants side for the first 20 minutes. It was like an old game of shots in as the Leeds players took turns to nearly score, Kilkenny, Beckford, Snoddy, Becchio all went near as Kettering wilted under the white heat of the Leeds onslaught. Maybe this was a night where I could relax and sit back and enjoy a goal feast?
Certainly looked like it as Becchio planted a sublime header passed the "Flying Pig" in the Kettering goal to open the scoring. Now on Saturday I had rashly predicted a 6.1 win........perhaps I was correct and I'd just got the wrong match?
Around me in the crowd everybody was happy mentally planning the journey across the M62 to the Theatre of Shite. On the pitch we continued to dominate and another goal for Leeds was a racing certainty. Kettering broke out of defence and ex Leeds man Elding spurned a half chance as he blazed the ball high and wide. That gave the 1000 strong away following hope and they cranked the decibel level up. Leeds finished the half on a high though as more chances were created but none taken. A single seed of doubt crept into my mind.
The rain was pouring down from the grim West Yorks sky as the second half got underway. It was only a matter of time before Leeds would get the killer goal. Leeds were now attacking the kop. Slowly but surely though that well known feeling of gut wrenching worry started to creep into the minds of the Leeds diehards on the Kop as Leeds' play became more and more fragmented. Worse still was that Kettering had started to throw men forward in the hope of pinching an equaliser. Crosses were going into the box.........Casper was well Casper and my nails were disappearing faster than Tiger Woods' credibility. Then the inevitable happened as Elding rose unchallenged to head home yet another cross into Leeds soft underbelly. 1.1 ffs.
My head was now spending more time in my hands as we pushed forward looking for the winner only for the final shot or pass to let us down, Beckford and Snoddy key culprits.
A tired Becchio was replaced by Kandol.
With Kettering chancing their arm to try and win the game Leeds piled forward on the break time and again, and time and again a combination of the "Flying Pig" in the Kettering goal, good luck and downright bad finishing kept the scores level. I had that horrible sinking feeling. Surely this couldn't be happening? What's happened to Grayson's well oiled machine? The natives were definitely restless in the stands around me as the game went to the last 5 minutes. Now I counted at least a chance a minute during that time where Leeds could have sealed it but didn't. Unbelievable!
Tresor missed a golden chance with his head when he was unmarked no more than 7 yards out. Then rose again in the dying seconds only to see his header scrambled off the line. Extra Time. The dreaded P word was mentioned as we waited for the restart. Penalties! I was now in a bad dream. This wasn't happening. We've had disappointments a plenty in recent years but this could top the lot if we didn't find a way to score the vital winning goal in the last 30 minutes.
Step up to the plate Lord Grayson as he subbed Hughes for Grella to add more attacking options to his team. Although we turned round still level Kettering were about to get one final onslaught as Leeds played towards their baying fans in the kop.
All the nerves and worry were banished as the admirable Bromby battled past a floundering Kettering defender and crossed for Mr USA, Mike Grella, to fire home. Relief all round as if we'd just won the cup, not just scored in extra time against a non league team! Funny old game isn't it.
Kettering faded quickly as Tres headed a third quickly followed by another from Grella before eventually Beckford got his name on the scoresheet to make it 5.1. Nothing to worry about in the end was there?
The Kettering players got a deserved standing ovation and we got what we wanted..........a trip to the Theatre of Shite. Magic.
Back in the car all the talk was of how many shots we'd had, 197, and how much the tickets for the next round will be, £51...............racketeering at it's best. Still with 8500 Leeds fans inside OT the atmosphere will be electric to say the least. Can't wait.
We got there in the end but my heart could have done without all the tension and drama along the way. I think I aged 10 years during the last 15 minutes of normal time. Leeds have a lot to answer for.
One thing for sure the trip to OT should be one to remember.........................and there's the tiniest of possibilities that we might just get a result. Now that would be a blog post to look forward to!
In Grayson we Trust.

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