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Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Leeds find a cure for insomnia in 1.1 bore draw!

Charlton Athletic are not the most attractive opposition that will travel to Elland Road this season.  I always see them as a type of invisible club.  In the harsh world of football opinions and allegiances Charlton Athletic are definitely not the type of club who create any sort of divisions of opinion amongst fans.  You neither love them or hate them.  They are the Roy Cropper of the championship although I am sure they have got plenty of passionate fans............somewhere.  So I wasn't expecting the Theatre of Hope to be bursting at the seams for the visit of the South Londoners but neither did I expect to see the stadium as sparsely populated as it was when I took my seat.  Swathes of blue seats outnumbered the loyal fans from both teams who had bothered to turn up on a grey, murky Tuesday night.  Still those who had stayed away were going to miss a treat weren't they?

Mr Warnock had changed the team that fought back so well at Hillsborough with Austin, Tonge, Pelts and White missing from the starting eleven.  Tonge and White were on the bench though.  A midfield of Green, Brown, Norris and Varney did raise a few eyebrows amongst the Leeds faithful though.  Even taking into account the low crowd the atmosphere at kick off was as flat as I can remember for a long while.  Was it the reaction to events on Friday night?  Had fans immediately taken on board the club's anti chanting campaign? Or was it just a horrible Tuesday night and the crowd needed something to spark them into life?  Mmmm the latter I suspect.

The game kicked off with Leeds playing towards a half empty South stand.  The comparison with the electric  atmosphere at Hillsborough couldn't be more different.  The game itself meandered along lacking tempo, skill or direction.  Pearce gave Leeds fans their first bit of mild excitement as he headed over from a corner and soon after Norris tried a shot but was smothered by the blanket Charlton defence. Both teams provided lots of huffing, puffing and high balls but little in the way of entertainment as the crowd got quieter and quieter.  Then just when I was thinking the stay away fans knew something I didn't the game burst into life.  As the match progressed on the pitch the linesman's flag collapsed.  The ref rushed across to assist with the repair but there seemed to be a problem.  Frantic waving to the bench to get a replacement proved in vain as the crowd, awoken from their slumbers, cheered every move.  Eventually the men in charge figured out a way to continue................just hold the flag bit not the sticky bit! Genius. Game on.

Inspired by the excitement on the touchline Leeds suddenly got a new lease of life and started to pass the ball on the floor.  Not only that they were passing to players in a white shirt.  This was better and a Diouf led attack freed up Byram on the right who carved out an opportunity that Varney failed to connect with.  "Tell me....why is Varney playing?" Brother Chris asked me.  I couldn't reply.  But better was to follow as minutes later Leeds found more joy down the right a cross came deep to Becchio who headed down for Norris to swivel and smash home the opening goal.  1.0 Leeds.  Now we can push on and take the game by the scruff of the neck.  Well we could have done but we didn't.  In fact we did the opposite and within a minute Charlton should have equalised as Leeds gave up possession far too easily and Johnnie Jackson missed a golden chance from the edge of the box.  Leeds didn't heed the warning and were nearly caught out with the final act of the half as Tom Lees kneed the ball onto his own bar from a corner.  HT 1.0 to Leeds and a significant amount of snoring was wafting around Elland Road.  I had witnessed the poorest 45 minutes display of the season but we were still in front.  Even better Uddersfield were getting thumped at Posh.  This could be a good night after all.

In terms of entertainment the 2nd half was possibly worse.  Charlton tried to play some football with the ball on the floor and their heavy manned midfield was winning the battle for possession as the match progressed at a lethargic pace.  Even the home crowd couldn't get inspired.  The Vile Animals of Friday night had turned into cat napping kittens on this Tuesday night.  Charlton equalised with barely 5 minutes of the 2nd half gone when a nothing type shot from 30 yards skimmed along the floor and beat Paddy Kenny to his right.  1.1.  Maybe that goal would ignite the game into a rousing battle for three precious points.  Err no it didn't.  Too many high long balls brightened up by the odd flash of Diouf brilliance inter mingled with some jittery defending against a Charlton side who show all the signs of having a long hard season in front of them was the only dish on the menu. As entertainment it was right up there with watching X Factor whilst extracting your own finger nails with a pair of pliers.  It was awful.

For the record Tonge and Gray replaced Varney and Becchio and Paddy Kenny pulled off a stunning last minute save to keep the scores level and the game finished 1.1.  Man of the match was the linesman's flag closely followed by Diouf.  The point lifts Leeds to 7th and extends their unbeaten run to 6.  What else can I say.  There was no chatter as the crowd made their way to their cars and home.  It was just a very poor game with no tempo or structure to it.  Hopefully Saturday will be different when Lee Clark's Brummie side are in town?  Neil Warnock's famed powers of inspiration and motivation will be put to the test between now and Saturday.  I do hope he gets it right.

Can't wait.


Travels of a Leeds Fan.

Leeds 1 v 1 Charlton 23/10/2012 by sparkyman2

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