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Saturday, 14 January 2017

Leeds Utd v Derby County. Jan 13th 2017.

Leeds United v Derby County is a fixture that always reignites special times deep in the memory bank for fans of a certain age. Hunter v Lee, Revie v Clough the cabbage patch that was the Baseball Ground and the infamous 44 days of havoc that Clough wreaked at Elland Road. In recent years though the rivalry has been a tad difficult for those of a West Yorkshire persuasion but times are a changing in LS11 and tonight's game was a real mouth watering clash of two teams with genuine promotion intentions.

Despite the ridiculous timing of the game Elland Road was alive with expectation and excitement as we headed for the stadium. Could Monk's Band of Brothers see off McClaren's rejuvenated Rams? Could Leeds keep yet another clean sheet without the rock that is Jansson? Would Doukara survive the chop after his aberration at Cambridge? All topics that were eagerly debated during the pre match refreshments.

Surprisingly Doukara did keep his place as Monk once again showed he wasn't afraid to be bold in his team selection. Vieira alongside Bridcutt, Ayling at centre half, Coyle at right back, Hernandez in the central role lined up against a strong Derby side. Over 25,000 were inside Elland as the game got underway after a poignant minutes applause for the late Graham Taylor. Many times this season Leeds have played it cagey in the first half. Not tonight. Plan A was clearly to hit the Rams with everything Leeds had right from the first minute and the Leeds players followed their instructions like brainwashed disciples of Monk the Messiah. Leeds were just irresistible. It was like watching Football porn. Leeds overwhelmed Derby with a quality of football that hasn't been seen at Elland Road for decades. Wave after wave of attacks submerged the early Derby efforts like a raging, unstoppable tsunami. Derby somehow survived a sequence of 5 corners in 3 minutes but Leeds just kept coming forward prompted by the sublime artistry of Hernandez. Vieira smashed a thunderous shot that Carson pushed away, Doukara hit a low shot inches past the left post, Bridcutt tested Carson with a 20 yarder. Bartley had two headers go close then a Doukara header just missed to the left. To say a goal was coming was like saying night follows day. This was awesome and Elland Road was bouncing. Delicious!

Half time was approaching though and Leeds still didn't have a goal to show for their dominance. Hernandez, Vieira and Roofe had carved up the Rams in ruthless style creating chance after chance. Bartley had missed a golden chance at the back post with the goal yawning in front of him. The only threat Derby had shown was thwarted by a superb block by Green when Bent found himself one on one with the Leeds goalie. If the home side didn't convert their overwhelming superiority into goals they could well regret it in the 2nd half. Then just when fans were drifting away for a half time pint Chris Wood finally breached the Derby goal. Hernandez swung in his 375th corner of the half and the New Zealander rose serenely to power a header past Carson. 1.0 Leeds and the roof came off Elland Road. There was still time for that Dad's son to rasp a superb shot at Green but the Leeds goalie wasn't going to let that spoil an almost perfect 45 minutes for Leeds as he expertly tipped the ball over the bar. Half time 1.0 Leeds. Wow. It might have been freezing but the vintage champagne football Leeds had served up warmed the cockles of the hearts of everybody inside the famous old stadium.

The urinal philosophers were beside them selves with superlatives. Stunning, awesome, sublime, jaw dropping oozed from the beaming mighty whites followers but the most common comment was simply "fucking brilliant" That summed up the first half nicely along with a consensus that this was the best football we'd ever seen, well at least since the likes of Giles, Bremner, Gray et al were in their pomp. If we're not careful we'll start to be other fans favourite 2nd team! That would never do would it?

McClaren had a challenging team talk. His team had been ruthlessly dismantled in front of a baying Elland Road crowd and millions on national TV. His response was to send on Hughes and Vydra and fire up his team to go in search of the equaliser. Suddenly the blonde haired Hughes was ghosting into space in the midfield causing Leeds new problems. A slack pass back to Green saw Bent charge down the ball and into the net but the ref judged the big Derby striker had used his hands. Phew. Sit down Derby fans. Bartley bundled Hughes over on the edge of the box earning himself a yellow card. 25,000 fans held their breath as Ince stepped up to take the free kick but the giant Leeds wall blocked the shot. For the first time on the night nerves started to jangle amongst the home fans. They needn't have worried though. Hernandez just stepped up another gear and it wasn't long before Leeds were back in control with the diminutive Spaniard scuttling about the pitch like a matador teasing the big burly Bulls, or in this case Rams, before placing strategic swords in their wounded body. The twirling scarves in the stands accompanying a joyous session of WACCOE added to the image. Suddenly Beeston was Barcelona!

Chances continued to flow for Leeds with the only nagging worry that we couldn't put the Rams out of their misery with a 2nd goal. Berardi so nearly brought the house down though when he returned a corner clearance with a dipping volley that missed by inches. Mint. Vieira, Hernandez and Roofe were almost obscene with the skills they were demonstrating in the middle of the park whilst Ayling had slotted into the back four so seamlessly that Jansson wasn't missed. That is some achievement for the bargain buy of the century, Ayling. At right back Coyle revelled in his opportunity. Such an old head on young shoulders. For a patched up defence this was an awesome foursome.

The game progressed towards the inevitable Leeds win with more chances for Leeds and a late red card for ex Elland Road favourite, Johnson. Final score a one nil roasting for the Rams and yet another home win for the mighty whites. I'm in heaven. You could feel the magnetic positiveness all around as we headed back to the car. What a performance from Leeds not just from Hernandez but the whole team. If the fans had picked the team Doukara would have been sat in the stands after Monday's dire showing but Monk stuck to his guns and was more than rewarded. Ayling and Bartley were like two Colossuses at the back. Both full backs were a threat going forward and like a pair of Yorkshire terriers at the back. The midfield was a slick well oiled defensive destroying machine whilst up front Wood continued his rich vein of form. It's all a bit surreal to be honest. Nothing to be gut wrenchingly disappointed about, nothing but positives. All of a sudden Elland Road has changed to the Theatre of Joy under the unbelievable direction of Garry Monk. Brilliant.

It's difficult to see Leeds ever losing again after that performance but Barnsley will try next Saturday. What a cracker that will be.

Can't wait.



Fencreative said...

Great review, as always, Andrew. I actually made Ayling my man-of-the-match. MOT

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks. As for Ayling I bet Bristol fans were crying watching that last night!

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Bristol City must have some cracking players that Ayling was surplus to requirements, good read as always

Unknown said...

Power! MOT!

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