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Tuesday, 19 January 2010

Leeds Utd v Carlisle Utd: Jan 19th 2010 Paint Pot Cup

Despite being within touching distance of Wembley the crowds were hardly flocking to ER for the Northern Area Final (ie Semi Final) of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. That says a lot about where this competition comes in the minds of the majority of fans. Still I found myself drawn to the game like a moth to a light bulb and after exchanging homilies with big Steve in the Kop bar I settled into my usual seat to watch our attempts to halt the mini blip in form.
Carlisle have become a bit of a bogey team but I was still confident Simon The Messiah would work his magic and on that basis was predicting a nice 4.0 victory. I think that's defined in the dictionary as "wishful thinking"
Leeds started with Crowe and Grella in the team at the expense of Becchio and Kissy with Howson replacing Doyle. After a bright start from the whites it was Carlisle who nearly scored first with Hughesy scrambling the ball away off the line when it looked easier to score. The pace was frenetic at both ends and any thoughts that either team was taking the game lightly were dispelled as both teams slugged it out toe to toe and chance for chance. On 20 minutes the perennial thorn in our side Graham Kavanagh opened the scoring after Crowe was exposed on the right for the millionth time and the lively Robson crossed for Dobie to nod down into the path of the unmarked advert for Grecian 2000 to smack into the net. Still the chances flowed and Beckford in particular was having a field day in getting onto the end of creative balls from his colleague......................on another day he'd have had a hat trick by half time. In reality the players trotted off with the Cumbrians in the lead 1.0 but the score could easily have been 3:3.
Things were not looking good. The malaise from Saturday was quickly dispelled but too often we looked over eager and tried one flick too many. Periods of possession for either team were frustratingly short. Any scout from Tel Aviv Hotspur would have been sat there wondering how an earth Leeds had beaten Man U.......and they weren't the only ones!
Leeds came out for the 2nd half with a lot more vigour and swarmed all over Carlisle and their first bit of truly incisive passing bamboozled the visitors freeing up Hughes on the left who crossed deep for Crowe to fly in and head Leeds level...................brilliant. And when they repeated the move minutes later only for Crowe to lift his shot over the bar things were looking up for the home side. The crowd , lifted by the goal, found their voice and tried to suck the ball into the net for a priceless 2nd. Time after time Leeds attacked but a combination of good defending and goalkeeping, luck and some poor finishing the scores remained level.
Carlisle always looked dangerous on the break though and Doyle's value to Leeds as the holding midfield player was clearly missed as the Cumbrian's weren't frightened of throwing people forward when they had the ball. Leeds were dominating the chances though and it seemed impossible that they wouldn't score another goal. As the game entered the last 10 mins a tired Grella gave way for Becchio. The Argentinian arrived just in time to see Ian Harte float a teasing free kick in front of a static Casper and the Carlisle sub poke home the winner. All of a sudden we appear to have rediscovered our soft underbelly in defence?
Leeds as ever never gave up and when Becchio rose majestically to a meet a cross with seconds left to go his header had goal written all over it until the Carlisle goalie somehow scooped the ball away but Howson returned it with credit and the ball appeared to cross the line, well from my vantage point in the kop it clearly did! before a Carlisle defender booted it clear. I looked hopefully to the bench for Dougie Freedman to come on and work his magic again but to on avail.
In the end an exciting end to end game but not good watching for Leeds fans. The 2nd defeat on the bounce and 5 goals leaked in 3 games since Jermaine's famous winner at OT. Where has all the confidence and assured play that was oozing from every game leading up to Xmas gone? Not the best preparation for our screen test against the Spurs on Saturday.
The tie is far from over though and the return at Brunton Park is set to be another night of high drama with a trip to Wembley as the prize. Sounds familiar doesn't it. I just hope we've secured some more league points by the time we go there.
Steady as she goes Mr Grayson...........choppy waters lie ahead!

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