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Saturday, 9 April 2016

Burnley v Leeds Utd. 9th April 2016

Grey skies and rain seemed rather appropriate given the current mood on Planet Leeds as we headed across the hill for the lunchtime clash with Burnley. As usual the Happy Chocker and Quiet One were on board as we discussed the challenge of upsetting the current Championship leaders on their own turf. We concluded our chances of coming away from East Lancashire with three points were the same as picking the winner of the Grand National...............slim. Still we'd had a bet on the famous race on the off chance and likewise we had a tiny glimmer of hope of somehow getting a return from the Clarets as we parked the car and headed for the stadium nestled amongst streets of back to back terraces. This is an old school stadium, not a retail park in sight and no hotel built into the main stand. You could almost smell the ghosts of post war football as fans of both sides scurried through the warren of close knit streets towards the ground.

The watery sun belied the chill wind as the teams walked out to an almost full stadium. Evans had picked Silvestri, Bamba and Diagouraga in favour of Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci and Bridcut. The away end was booming out a hearty chorus of MOT as the game got under way but before the Leeds anthem could be completed the Clarets had snatched the opening goal! Bamba, Dallas and Berardi all seemed oblivious to the threat from Scott Arfield as he placed a perfect shot past Silvestri from the angle of the box. 30 seconds and we were one nil down. Fantastic. This could be a long afternoon.

Leeds responded to the early setback well as they enjoyed good possession against the League leaders. Carayol jinked inside only to see his shot blocked and Bamba stabbed a shot goalwards from a corner. Murphy also snatched at a shot. Burnley were nervy but dogged in defence. They also were pressing Leeds relentlessly whenever the team in yellow tried to push forward. After the disappointing performances from Leeds over the last couple of weeks this was much better from Leeds. George Boyd reminded the vociferous travelling support of the danger Burnley can pose as he slid a shot inches past Silvestri's post from the same position that Arfield scored from. As the clock ticked past the half hour mark Leeds piled on the pressure. Wood's header was saved down low by Heaton and then Berardi finished a spell of pin ball in the Burnley box with a shot that went high and wide. The experienced Burnley midfielder, Barton, then had a convenient injury that slowed the momentum down. Surprisingly he was fit to continue after a few minutes rest!

Bamba popped again just before half time with a low shot but the half closed with Burnley holding a slender one goal lead. Cooper had kept Gray quiet whilst Bamba was getting the better of his titantic battle with Vokes. All we needed was a goal. It wasn't as if we hadn't had enough possession and shots we just needed that oh so important bit of extra quality to breach the home defence. Leeds started the 2nd half on the front foot as a Cook inspired move finished with Wood turning and shooting high over the bar. It was all Leeds as next Murphy drove a fierce shot over the bar from a corner. Burnley were now on the ropes and battling hard as Leeds began to turn the screw. Carayol found space on the left wing and swung a delicious cross right onto Wood's head just 6 yard out............Get innnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! I screamed as the Leeds striker somehow steered the ball into the baying Leeds fans behind the goal. How the f*** did he miss that?

In pushing for the equaliser Leeds were leaving themselves exposed at the back and Gray almost took advantage on 58 minutes but for a superb block tackle from the dominant Cooper. Leeds continued to dominate possession but too many times the final ball or shot didn't match the build up play....probably the summary of the season overall? Antenucci replaced Carayol just after the hour and nearly scored with his first touch as he he turned his defender in the box but couldn't get any power on his shot. Was he leant on as he shot though? Time was ebbing away for Leeds though as the continued to batter on the Burnley defensive door then just when I thought it was not going to be our day Wood had another glorious chance. This time it was Taylor clipping a sweet cross onto the strikers head with the goal gaping wide in front of him......Get innnnnnnnn! the whole of the travelling support shouted as he unbelievably headed wide again. Bollox! Wood held his head in his hands knowing that both of the chances would come be back to haunt him with good cause once his head hits the pillow tonight........hope he doesn't miss that as well?

The final ten minutes Leeds threw caution to the wind and launched a series of sustained attacks mainly via the long ball into the Burnley box. Adeyemi mysteriously replaced Diagouraga for the final assault closely followed by Mowatt on for Dallas. If anything the changes took some of the momentum out of the Leeds push. 5 minutes of added time weren't enough for Leeds as an exciting game finished 1.0. The Burnley fans celebrated another three points in their promotion vault although I suspect even their most dyed in the wool fan knew their had ridden their luck today.

Cooper was immense today with good performances from Diagouraga and Murphy in midfield. Cook ran himself senseless. In the end Wood's two glaring misses were the difference between the two sides. Not for the first time the majority of Leeds fans streaming away from the ground were muttering sentences starting with "If only we'd taken our chances.............."

Birmingham away on Tuesday up next. The start of the final run in for another frustrating season for the mighty whites. Leeds still lack that bit of quality needed in the championship to mount a promotion challenge and with the likes of Villa, Toon army and Sunderland/Norwich coming down from the Premier League with their pockets bulging with parachute payments life won't get any easier next season. Still we can always hope?

Can't wait.


PS work commitments mean I'm missing the Brum game.

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