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Saturday, 18 February 2012

Leeds Utd v Doncaster Rovers. 18th Feb 2012

After such a negative week news of Neil Warnock's appointment as Leeds' new manager added a significant buzz to the journey to Elland Road for the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and yours truly.  The over whelming view amongst the Leeds faithful was that Uncle Ken had finally got one decision spot on.  Warnock, who from now on will be known as Colin (see anagram of his name) caused a stir in the West stand when he took his seat for the game as he received a warm ovation from the Leeds fans.  "First time he's ever got any applause at Elland Road" HC commented.  Although Redfearn was still officially in charge the presence of the new supremo in the stands must have had an influence on the both the temporary manager and the team.

Inevitably changes were made to the team after Tuesday's woeful performance.  Bruce came in at right back, Townsend started on the left wing and Pugh moved to the central midfield spot the injured Delph had vacated.  The game kicked off accompanied by a vicious swirling wind.  The euphoria of having a strong new manager was soon tempered by the fact the team on the pitch was similar to Tuesday's. Which meant a similar level of disorganisation and lack of confidence especially in defence and midfield.  This manifested itself all too clearly on 10 minutes when Bamago found himself totally unmarked on the penalty spot and tried an audacious back heel that clattered against Lonergan's post.  Oh dear maybe this was still going to be a long afternoon?

The quality of the play on display was poor as both teams struggled to cope with the difficult conditions.  Another disappointing crowd was relatively quiet and the atmosphere very flat.  As the game stumbled to the 30 minute mark Colin had already filled one note pad with a list of "what we must do better".  Top of that list must have been "mark players tightly and don't allow forwards any space"  One such forward Mr Diouf was starting to cause Leeds problems with his clever touches and intelligent running.  His notorious past and liking for sharing phlegm with other human beings was not forgotten by the fans in the kop as he came to take the first Donny corner.  He responded to the torrent of abuse by "applauding" the fans before getting on with the game setting the tone for the rest of the game. Leeds defensive weaknesses were soon exposed in all their disorganised glory as a long ball out of the Donny defence was headed straight to a red and white hooped shirt who knocked the ball onto Hayter who left O'Dea for dead............Lonergan smothered the shot but Bagayoko was first to react and tucked away the first goal.  1.0 Donny as Colin filled another chapter in his note pad entitled "What we will practice on Sunday, getting to the 2nd ball first"

The match stuttered to half time with Donny looking the most likely of two less than average teams.  Boo's rang round the ground as the Ref blew for half time.  I glanced toward's Colin to make sure he hadn't sneaked out to reconsider his position after another poor 45 minutes from Leeds but he was already gathering up his note books and striding towards the dressing room for a few gentle words of advice to Redders and the team.  Half time saw a toddler waddle onto the pitch unnoticed before his Dad raced on to bring him back.  Presumably even at that tender age the young Leeds fan realised what a monumental task lay in front of him supporting Leeds for the next 70 years and was trying to make a quick exit before the drug took hold!

The urinal debate was blunt and to the point.  "Another day same old shit team" one fan commented.  "I bet Warnock wishes he'd gone to Wolves after watching that load of shite" was another opinion.  Suffice to say there weren't many fans too impressed with the first half performance.  It was too disjointed and the team just seemed to lack any sort of structure or plan.

The 2nd half got underway with Leeds playing towards the frustrated kop.  The frustration soon turned to horror as bottom of the table Donny went two up.  Bruce allowed a cross to go deep into the Leeds box where the ball was knocked easily back to Bagayoko who shrugged O 'Dea off to head the 2nd.  2.0 Donny.  Colin was now scribbling "FFS does anyone know how to defend at this club?  The toddler was now screaming and clawing at the gate to try and escape.  Dad was arrested for child cruelty for imposing such heartache on an 18 month year old.  Things were not going well.

Then Leeds got a toehold back in the game.  The lead up to the goal was hardly a classic.  Ross Mac fought for the ball and headed towards the Donny box..............his shot was deflected into the path of Becchio who layed it off behind Pugh in the box who teed up Townsend to drill into the bottom corner.  2.1 Donny.  The crowd came alive as Leeds began to smell the faint whiff of Doncaster's blood.  It was Donny's defence who was now creaking.  Townsend tried a shot from distance and then got round the back of the Donny full back before crossing for Becchio to thump a header goalwards.  Leeds were suddenly back in the game and searching for the equaliser although we looked exposed at the back every time Donny got the ball.  Lonergan made a terrific stop to prevent a third Rovers goal before Ross Mac just failed with a one on one with the Donny goalie.  What ever Colin had said at half time had certainly livened the Leeds team up.

Brown replaced Pugh in midfield and Rogers made his Leeds debut on 79 minutes.  He was about to have a debut he wouldn't remember.  Leeds were now going for Donny's jugular...........before they severed ours....and were rewarded with a stunning equaliser.  Snoddy jinked his way down the left before whipping in a cross for Clayts to volley into the roof of the net. Get innnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! 2.2.  The momentum was now clearly with Leeds as they pushed for an unlikely win.  Tempers were fraying with Diouf doing his best to wind every single player and fan up he could.  Rogers debut came to a worrying end as he clashed with Spurr leaving both players motionless on the ground.  The medics surrounded both players as they put them both in the recovery position before moving them onto a stretcher.  The sight of a rather over weight paramedic "rushing" at snails pace from the NW corner to help  with the words "Rapid Response" emblazoned on his high viz vest made more than a few fans chuckle.  After a long delay Forssell replaced the concussed Rogers.  There were still 5 minutes of added time to play as Leeds piled on the pressure looking for a much needed winner.  Then it came in the 99th minute!  The ball dropped invitingly to Becchio...who cleverly scuffed his shot into the back of Forssell before hitting a perfect curler in off the post.....a shot Messi would have been proud of!  Elland Road exploded with relief.  3.2 Leeds.  Donny had given up a 2 goal lead and were not happy.  The niggles and tantrums of Donny's "Premier class players" yes I mean you Mr Diouf and Chumbonda, boiled over at the final whistle as the police were called to calm things down in the tunnel.  Colin was completing his 4th note book before going to the press conference.  "Must be in early on Monday, lots to work on before the Pompey game but with a few changes we can go on a decent run with this team"

This was a great comeback if not a great performance.  Becchio had one of his better games and his winner was absolutely sublime.  All the defensive frailties are there for all to see though. Something tells me Colin is going to enjoy his time at the Theatre of Renewed Hope!
Can't wait.

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