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Sunday, 20 August 2017

Sunderland v Leeds Utd. August 19th 2017.

Inevitably any fixture between Sunderland and Leeds will have the media dusting down their archive material and fawning over Bob Stokoe, Jim Montgomery and that Cup Final way back in another century. Thank god I was on a train trundling towards Wearside and not watching the Sky Sports Leeds build up to yet another televised match with a stupid kick off time. The game had all the hallmarks of a tense battle between two teams with promotion aspirations. Sunderland fresh from a woeful relegation season in the Premier League and Leeds fresh from a woeful end to last season's promotion campaign. The late kick off left plenty of time for pre match refreshments which the travelling army made good use of. The hot topic amongst the Leeds fans was would Wood go or would Wood stay before the transfer window slams shut? I was more inclined to worry about the here and now. What midfield pairing would TC's put up against Cattermole? Would Shaughnessy continue his impressive form? Saiz or Hernandez or both? As ever the adrenaline was surging through my veins as I made the trek to the top tier of the Stadium of Light ready for kick off.

TC's team selection answered the Chris Wood question as he was left out completely with his move to Burnley done and dusted. Ekuban took his place up front with the mouth watering threesome of Alioski, Hernandez and Saiz tucked in behind. Philips and O'Kane straddled the midfield with the back four of Anita, Cooper, Jansson and Ayling looking for a 3rd clean sheet on the bounce. The away end was absolutely bouncing as the game got underway. Sunderland started the better with attempts from McGeady, Vaughan and Grabban in the first 15 minutes all repelled forcefully by the rock solid Leeds defence. Leeds started to find their feet though with Alioski giving Galloway a torrid time on the flank as TC's positive style oozed out of his players. On 20 minutes the Leeds back line was so nearly breached as Grabban got free but saw his shot headed onto the bar by Cooper and back into Wiedwald's hands. Leeds were about to deal Sunderland a double whammy though.

Leeds broke swiftly through the Sunderland ranks and fed Alioski on the right. He ran at the back pedalling defence and slid the ball into the path of Saiz who never broke stride as he took one touch and then buried it in the net for the opening goal. Fantastic finish to a fantastic move. 1.0 Leeds and the travelling support were in raptures. Chris who? Minutes later Leeds's bad luck with injuries struck again as Hernandez left the field to be replaced by Roofe. Leeds looked in control and were playing with confidence. Alioski was terrifying the home defence, Ekuban was working hard up front not getting caught offside like his predecessor and Saiz was just peerless in midfield. When Sunderland did break they were met with the absolute stonewall that is otherwise known as the Leeds defence. Cattermole tested Wiedwald from 25 yards but the goalie got down well to save. Half time came with Leeds winning 1.0 and left the field to thunderous applause.

The urinal philosophers were besides them selves with joy......."who needs Chris fucking Wood when we play like this" screamed one fan while another was drooling over Alioski and Saiz " That Alioski and Saiz are destroying them" the final comment summed up the positive feeling engulfing the Leeds support " Suddenly it's a real pleasure to watch Leeds" Heady days following Leeds on the road!

The 2nd half started with the Leeds granite rearguard in dominant form stifling Sunderland's attempted comeback. Leeds looked dangerous on the attack though. On 60 minutes yet another injury blow for Leeds this time Ekuban limped off leaving no centre forwards on the pitch or on the bench. Dallas replaced him. The vociferous Leeds fans urged their team on relentlessly. Alioski thumped a free kick goal wards only for Steele to punch the ball away but the Leeds tide was beginning to submerge the Mackems. On 76 minutes Leeds got a deserved 2nd goal that typifies the current skills and spirit within the team. The granite defence headed the ball away for the hundredth time to Alioski 75 yards from goal. He won the ball and left his defender for dead and sprinted up the field with the Sunderland defence in tatters. As he reached the box he slid the ball to Saiz who nonchalantly beat his man and fizzed a cross to Dallas at the back post where the substitute headed home with ease. 2.0 Leeds and game over. The Leeds fans celebrated whilst the home fans fled to the exits. They'd seen enough but the joyous away support bayed for more.

The ironic rendition of "Leeds are falling apart again" tumbled down from the away fans up in the gods. Leeds saw the game out with ease to maintain their 100% record on the road and their unbeaten start to the season. Add another clean sheet to that mix and there's no wonder Thomas Christiansen is fast becoming a Leeds cult hero after just 5 games in charge. The whole team received a thunderous ovation at the end. Man of the match could have been anyone from Alioski, Saiz, Cooper, Jansson, Phillips for me. If pushed I would go for Saiz. This was as good a showing I've seen from Leeds for a long time. Fantastic!

I still had a big grin on my face when the train rolled into York. Football does that to you. Tonight was all about side before self and the team picked up on that with gusto. We might not have a fit centre forward now but who cares if we play like this? Goals will come from all over the pitch. Who needs Chris Wood? What a time to be following Leeds! Forest up next at the City Ground. A repeat performance from TC's artisan footballers and the championship will be sitting up and taking notice. Bliss.

Can't wait.


PS: My Father died on Wednesday this week after a long illness. I somehow felt this was the ideal performance to send him on his way. God bless Dad.


Andy P said...

Hi Andrew. Great report and absolutely right what a time to be a Leeds fan. So sorry to hear of your Father's passing.

The bee wife said...

So sorry, my predictive text spelt your surname incorrectly - please don't publish my earlier comment. But please accept my sincerest condolences for your sad loss. Regards The bee wife

Dermot Culliton said...

Great report Andrew.May Dad Rest In Peace.M.O.T

Andrew Butterwick said...

Bee Wife & Andy,
Thanks for your kind words. MOT

eddie said...

Sorry to hear about your dad Andy, MOT
From Eddie, Al and Rhys

Andrew Butterwick said...

Eddie, Al, Rhys, Dermot,
Thanks for your kind words.

andy hinks said...

hi Andrew
massive Leeds fan down in Tunbridge wells Kent! always read your blog & send on to my fellow LUFC friends elsewhere always-wonderfully honest & with burning passion & great humour!

more importantly sincere condolences for the loss of your dad on Wednesday!

it was my dad who got me into Leeds back in the late 60's like many LUFC fans!
best wishes

andy hinks

David Smith said...

I don't follow many on Twitter, but always enjoy reading your match report. Thoughts & prayers with you & your family at this time.

Andrew Butterwick said...

thanks for your kind comments. Glad you enjoy my musings.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks David.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Sincere condolences on your sad loss. Cracking report like you I thought the team were excellent as for Woods excuse for not playing.... TOSH!

Andrew Butterwick said...

Leeds watcher,
Thanks. Love your description of Wood's excuse!

chris wild said...

as always Andy a good read and so sorry to hear of your loss

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks Chris.

Unknown said...

As always a great read! So sorry to hear of your loss.

Andrew Butterwick said...

thanks for the kind words.

Unknown said...

Hi mate, been reading your match reports for a few seasons now. Excellently written, entertaining, amusing. I look forward to them after every game. Thanks for continuing to write them.

Really sorry to hear about your dad. MOT.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for your comments. Glad you enjoy.

Unknown said...

My deepest condolence Bro, Power report again. Tq for the tonic.


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