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Saturday, 6 February 2010

Hartlepool United v Leeds Utd Feb 6th 2010

Hartlepool away in February is not a fixture for the faint hearted. Firstly the temperature is guaranteed to be triple Baltic and secondly the small compact ground is not the best place to either watch or play. Beefy, The Happy Chocker and the Quiet One accompanied me as we blasted up the A19 towards Monkey Hanging Land.

Once safely parked we found our way to a local hostelry for some pre match refreshments and discussions. Now from the bar all I could see was a solitary Spurs shirt sat in the TV lounge so once we'd got served we headed across to investigate. Beefy looked very wary as we sat down near the geographically challenged Tottenham fan. Certainly the knee length boots, stockings and short skirt didn't match the Spurs shirt but then on closer inspection neither did the rough man's body who was wearing them! We'd found what I suspect is the only transvestite Spurs fan in Hartlepool....................Beefy was furiously trying to log onto to his Facebook account and tell the world whilst the Quiet One was failing miserably not to snigger. "Must be cold dressed like that in these parts?" I ventured "It is a bit but I've forget my coat" it replied. Now tempting as it was to get the camera out and take a picture of the weirdo I resisted. It soon became apparent that the guy was at least three slices short of a loaf as he prattled on about following Millwall and West Ham as well as Spurs and despite his strong cockney accent he was actually born in Germany.................that'll go down well with Spurs Jewish contingent? We tolerated the smell emanating from his unkempt body for 10 minutes and then we made our way to the ground. Safe to say that all four of us didn't stop chuckling about Mr or Mrs Weirdo for the next 20 minutes.

At the ground news that Snoddy, Hughes & Johnson were benchwarming while Killa and Kissy were still injured. McSheffrey, Lowry and Mad Max started. The fog had cleared by kick off time as Leeds set about securing a precious 3 points against Jeff Stelling's favourites.
Leeds were soon in control against a side clearly lacking in confidence and quality. This was going to be one of the easier afternoons watching our frustrating heroes? Just after 10 minutes Becchio tested the home goalie with a header that he tipped over the bar as Leeds looked threatening each time they advanced. The opening goal had an inevitability about it as Beckford and Gradel got free on the right for Jermaine's pin point cross to be met by a trademark Becchio header to nestle firmly in the back of the net. 1.0.

Leeds cruised through the rest of the half with the home goalie kept busy by Howson, Becchio and McSheffrey. It all looked too easy but we still went in for the half time break only one up. After struggling through the throng of Leeds fans to the toilet i reflected on the opening 45 minutes. No real sign of an FA Cup hangover. Mad Max scuttling about looking dangerous with Becchio and Beckford looking a threat and Hartlepool looking poor. Not a match to get the pulse racing but still we were in front and in control.

First signs that things were going to take a turn for the worse was the sight of Snoddy replacing the injured Beckford as we kicked off the 2nd half. It was a scrappy opening period but slowly the home side seemed to be coming back into the game helped by what seemed to be Leeds' inability to keep the ball for more than two passes. Lubo went close with a header but the Monkeymen were getting up a head of steam and although our defence was holding relatively firm the mid field were suddenly over run. Casperman was now in the game and he reproduced his recent good form as he turned a superb effort from Boyd round for a corner. WTF was going on? This should have been a walk in the park for Leeds and yet all of a sudden we were defending desperately against a revitalised home side who could now smell the fear of their illustrious visitors. My worst fears were realised on 70 minutes as yet more misplaced passes gave up possession and Boyd ended up rifling an unstoppable thunderbolt past Casperman and into the net. The majority of the 9000 crowd celebrated as the forlorn faces of the 900 away fans told their own story. Still Charlton and Norwich were also suffering away day blues so all was not lost.

Leeds did respond though and rather against the run of play we were back in front. McSheffrey hit a stunning volley that the goalie just tipped over. From the resultant corner the ball was hooked back goalwards by Nayls only to be denied by the post...............up steps Becchio to knock in the rebound and grab his second of the game and restore our lead. With only 10 minutes to go surely we would kill the game?

Nope we continued to give the ball back to Pool and invite them onto us with their final assault. I could feel the blood draining from my face as they seemed to attack at will with Leeds conceding corner after corner. The Happy Chocker glanced over with that look I've seen too many times over the last two we go again!

We stumbled into the 3 minutes of added time with me and plenty of other Leeds fans screaming at the team to just put a foot on the ball and pass to a yellow shirt but to no avail. With the 3 minutes of added time almost up we conceded a dubious free kick out wide. The pit of my stomach was tied in knots as I watched a blue shirt flick the cross on to the UNMARKED Sweeney, ffs, who gobbled up the chance with glee! A draw snatched from the jaws of a win. The home crowd were in ecstasy and this fan was as mad and frustrated as I've been for a long time with Leeds for throwing away 2 precious points. News that Charlton had also equalised at Swindon in stoppage time did nothing for my mood. Still Norwich had lost.

As we stomped back to the car I exchanged pleasantries with some neanderthal Hartlepool chav who thought it was a good idea to turn up in a scum shirt. An understanding Policeman saw my point of view and hauled him away for a chat.

I hate it when we lose but when we lose a game we should have won by half time it's more difficult to take. It took at least 30 miles before we were able to resurrect the weirdo in the Spurs shirt anecdote and bring a smile back to the car.

Tuesday night at Carlisle looks a difficult one. Lord Grayson will not be happy with today's performance. Once again he has some work to do to lift the team for Carlisle and more importantly next week at Orient. We are still sitting pretty in the league though 2 points behind Norwich and 2 games in hand and 4 points ahead of 3rd placed Charlton with 2 games in hand.
A bad day at the office today and two points thrown away though.
Roll on Carlisle and dare I say Wembley.
Can't wait.

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