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Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Carlisle Utd v Leeds Utd JPT area Final

Sometimes your morning starts well and sometimes it doesn't. Well this was definitely the latter as my VW Golf spluttered to a crawl slap bang in the middle of the road works on the M62. After pulling over to the hard shoulder and calling Mr Green Flag I pondered which crisis to deal with first.................missing an important high profile business meeting or figuring out how I was going to get to Carlisle later in the day without my less than trusty Golf. So after putting out cries for help on Twitter and Facebook in an attempt to solve the Carlisle transport problem I rang my boss and gave my apologies for the morning meeting.

Cyberspace and Leeds fans seem to go together well so one minute I had a ticket for the match and no lift the next minute the lift was sorted courtesy of the generosity of Kev Stokes and his long as I could get myself home from the garage in York, get changed, finish my work and get across to Halifax in time to hitch a lift in Kev's 8 seater "Green Army" vehicle. Simples!

So I had the pleasure of Kev, Richard, Big Jon, Daniel, Joseph and Glyn's company for the trip up to Woolyback country.................the only downside was the frequent obnoxious emissions from somewhere in the vicinity of Daniel's backside!

After reaching Carlisle we made good use of the hospitality on show at Carlisle rugby club and looked forward to the game. Would Beckford play? Errr no, Would Kissy be fit enough to return? Errr no. But we still had enough firepower in our team to claw back the one goal deficit from the first leg. Predictions from our group were wildly optimistic with the angelic Joseph leading way with a rather hopeful 100 nil to Leeds. I was sticking with a Leeds win after a penalty shoot out with Casperman getting the winning penalty.

Although the ground wasn't full there was plenty of atmosphere, at least in the Leeds end. A scrappy opening quarter didn't settle my nerves as the ball rarely touched the grass. Becchio started with Snoddy up front but soon a combination of Mad Max and Snoddy were partnering the Argentinian. At times in the opening quarter Leeds looked a tad lethargic in comparison with their Cumbrian opponents who seemed to be relishing the chance to progress to Wembley. Leeds seemed to be carrying on where they left off at Hartlepool looking anything but title chasers.

The wake up call came after half an hour when lack of concentration at the back and a deflected pass broke back to Carlisle and all of a sudden Carlisle's Clayton found himself free to roll the ball past Casper for the opening goal and increase the home sides advantage to 2. Clayton should have done better moments later when he lifted a shot over the top from an excellent position. I was beginning to question my sanity in moving heaven and earth to get to the match as Leeds stuttered to half time. They looked no more capable of overturning the lead and getting to Wembley than Paul Gasgoigne does of having an orange juice when he walks in a pub!
Ah well at least I'll save £200 if we don't get to Wembley.

One thing I've learnt over the years following Leeds is always to expect the unexpected. So just when they think it's all over............................we come straight out for the 2nd half and score an immediate goal with Snoddy ghosting into to head a precious equalizer on the night. This is better! We look like a team that wants to win as we pushed forward with more guile and determination. Chances started to flow and the 1300 hardy souls who had followed the mighty whites to Cumbria began to crank up the volume. Maybe we could just do it? Johnson and Kilkenny came on and made an immediate impact. Johnson chose to head back across a Snoddy across for Crowe to finish from an offside position...........why didn't he just head it in? But the tide was turning and confidence was returning to the team and their noisy fans. But of course it was too easy just to get a couple of goals and put the tie beyond doubt? We'd got to give them a soft goal thanks to Lubo's Sunday League type error! Suddenly it was the Cumbrians who were singing again.

But Leeds wouldn't die. Killa and Mad Max had a lovers tiff over yet another offside flag. Lord Grayson withdrew Nayls and threw on Grella for one last attempt to snatch the tie................and we so nearly did as first Crowe then Grella snatched superb goals to level the tie and send the game into extra time......................what did I predict?

Now penalties are a lottery and when Bradders missed Leeds first I thought our chance had gone but the see saw of emotions continued into the sudden death phase with each kick greeted with excruciating tension until Shane Lowry drew the short straw and missed giving Carlisle the trip to Wembley.

The home crowd erupted in joy and spilled onto the pitch to celebrate whilst the Leeds fans stood there with that familiar big game disappointed feeling. The Leeds players couldn't cross to thank their fans due to the numbers of home fans now on the supposed out of bounds pitch. Ironically we had a strong line of stewards and police with yapping dogs facing the well behaved defeated fans whilst behind them the home fans seemed to be able to do what they liked on the pitch, including punching Leeds players? Farcical.

It's always a long way home when we've lost but the first part was passed with Big Jon revelling in his new found fame as the "fat bare chested Leeds fan who was caught on the TV cameras at the end of the game" The picture winged it's way around cyberspace at breakneck speed.
So another route to Wembley blocked for another year. We've now got 18 games to ensure we don't now get a trip the Wembley we don't want.................... in the play offs.
Can't wait.

PS. Once again thanks to Kev for the lift to the match. Top man.

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