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Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Leeds Utd v Hull City 16th Aug 2011.

The prospects of playing a Yorkshire derby on a Tuesday night last season brought me out in palpitations, in fact playing anybody on a Tuesday night seemed to end in inevitable disaster during the last campaign.  So you can forgive me for being ever so slightly apprehensive as we gathered for the clash with codheads from Hull, especially with the squad so depleted by injuries and suspensions.  News of a further injury to Bromby and the announcement of the team news in the Capt's lounge didn't exactly have fans rushing to take advantage of the generous odds on a Leeds win.......................but as kick off approached I felt positive stirrings in my uber-optimistic crystal ball changing my intial "happy with a point" view to a 4.3 win to the mighty whites.  After all the fishy Tigers haven't triumphed at Elland Road for an eternity and Leeds are usually at their best when you least expect it.

Aidey White came into the team at left back shuffling O'Dea across to centre half whilst Tom Lees remained at right back.  Kissy was captain in a 4.4.2 formation with Keogh making his debut alongside Ross Mac.  The illusive Nunez replaced Mad Max on the left.  From the first kick the game was remarkably open as both teams seemed to be hell bent on attack.  Leeds bossed the first quarter of an hour as wave after wave of attacks bore down on the Codhead's goal.  Keogh's first touch nearly set up a goal for Kissy in a goal mouth scramble..............Snoddy drilled in a testing shot at the goalie............Nunez returned a mis hit clearance just past the post.............Ross Mac latched onto a neat through ball and just shot wide...........Nunez curled a shot onto the bar with the goalie beaten...............Ross Mac should have done better with the resulting header.  Phew! it was like a game of "first goal's the winner"  Then Leeds did get the first goal as Snoddy weaved a tantalising pattern that teased the Hull left back before standing up a cross that screamed "don't you dare miss this" which Ross Mac directed a firm header at the keeper who kept it out but that just delayed the inevitable as SuperMac followed up and buried the ball in the back of the net.  1.0 Leeds and the Theatre of Hope was alive again.

Whilst Leeds were throwing caution to the wind at one end the skilfull Brady was doing his level best to make Aidey White's night as uncomfortable as possible at the other.  To his credit the young full back showed his maturity as he manfully stuck to his task and whenever Hull launched the ball anywhere near the goal the impressive Lonergan snatched the ball dismissively from the air.  Things were looking good........very good!  A group of young kids in the West stand even led the chanting as the Kop returned a chant of "Leeds" to their high pitched "United"  Leeds continued to pour forward and everything was right with the world.  Andy Keogh was working tirelessly and running the channels well capping an encouraging opening 20 minutes with a rasping left footed shot that fizzed over the bar.  Then just when I was getting that nice confident feeling when we are in control of the game we scored another goal..............but this time in the wrong goal!  Young Tom Lees got all at sea as a teasing cross came in and hit a perfect shot past the stunned Lonergan as he tried to clear the ball.  1.1.  Mr Lees was devastated but didn't get his head down as supported by his team mates Leeds looked to hit back.  Problem was that the Codheads suddenly came to life boosted by their good fortune and attacked Leeds forcing them onto the backfoot.  Corner followed corner but with O'Dea and Kissy to the fore the defence started to look solid with Lonergan coolness personified behind them.  "This game has lot's of goals left in it" The Happy Chocker correctly observed.

When Leeds finally drew breath they continued to attack with either adventurous or naive vigour as Nunez, Snoddy, Ross Mac and Keogh revelled in the service provided from predominantly Adam Clayton.  He really does look like a good player after his return from loan spells.  At the back O'Dea looked a million times more comfortable at centre half than he did at left back.  He even has aspirations to emulate Glen Hoddle as he attempted one or two 40 yard pin point passes out to Nunez and Snoddy.  Hull's purple patch started to subside as half time approached and Leeds greedily regained the lead.  Nunez, who looks a real handful for defenders, jinked around a full back and swung a cross in which the keeper spilled.  The ball spun out to Lees on the edge of the box and he coolly slotted the ball into the top corner of the net.  Goooooooooooooooooooooooal Lees. 2.1 Leeds.  So when Mr Deadman blew his half time whistle Leeds went off to a thoroughly deserved standing ovation.  Who needs expensive signings when we can play like this with a significantly depleted team?

The Happy Chocker was late back from the half time bar as my uber-optimistic crystal ball predicted a goal before he arrived.............sure enough Ross Mac won a free kick and then Snoddy hit a sublime shot into the corner of the net. 3.1 Leeds and we were on fire.  The game took on a slightly bizarre tone as both teams attacked at will.  I don't think I've seen a game that was as open as this or had as many chances for both teams in a long time.  Lonergan made a stunning save to deny a McLean header and not long after he made another good block to maintain Leeds' 2 goal cushion.  The kop belted out "there's only one Andy Lonergan" as memories of our last shot stopper faded into history.  Kasper who?

Inspired by a relatively solid, if not unconventional at times defence, Leeds continued to attack with verve and adventure.  Snoddy was winning his battle with the full back and delivering some tantalising service into the box whilst Nunez was bamboozling the Tigers defence with his darting runs and eagerness to shoot.  As Hull became more desperate to find a way back into the game they left spaces at the back which was only going to mean one thing...............another goal to Leeds and it came on 70 minutes as Ross Mac picked up the ball and ran at the tiring defence before picking out the Honduran, Nunez, in acres of space in the box.  He simply controlled the ball and rammed it home.  4.1 Leeds.  Nice one Ramon.  Now who said anything about being apprehensive and not liking Tuesday night matches?  This one was absolutely delicious as the Leeds fans gorged themselves on roast Tiger followed by barbecued Codheads.  Yum Yum!

Even at 4.1 with the game won Leeds still played an expansive game that meant the last 20 minutes was like a game of shots in at each end.  The imperious Clayton nearly capped a fine performance with a goal at the death but it was not to be as it finished a very nice 4.1 win to Leeds.  That will look good in the paper tomorrow!

As we streamed away from the ground the Hull fans were a tad upset at the fact that they had struggled to contain our "depleted" side and tried to bait us with jibes about Ken Bates but it mattered not a jot to me.  They were going back down the M62 with their fishtails well and truly between their legs.  Happy days!

A terrific performance in which Lonergan, Clayton, Snoddy and Nunez stood out.  Ross Mac had his best match in a Leeds shirt and Andy Keogh went a long way in proving me wrong about his signing with a good hard working, intelligent game.  The back four played well as a unit but they are not the finished article yet.  Lees and White look far better prospects at full back than we've had for quite a while.  So Lord Larry has now got a selection dilemma for the trip the Hammers.  Do we go 4.4.2 or revert to 4.5.1?  Do Howson and Gradel displace members of a winning team?  That's the sort of headache he can deal with though.  We're still only three games into the season and we've already experienced the ups and downs of the world's biggest rollercoaster of emotions.  Keep those seat belts tightly fastened..................West Ham will be a very bumpy ride.........but make no mistake with this team spirit and no little skill we can make a real impact in this division starting at Upton Park on Sunday lunchtime.  Now just excuse me while I finish off the last of the roast Tiger and the BBQ codhead.  I do like good local food!  Roll on Sunday.
Can't wait!

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