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Saturday, 23 December 2017

Leeds Utd v Hull City. 23rd Dec 2017.

There was an intoxicating mix of a Localish derby and pre Christmas excitement filling the air as a sold out crowd hurried along Elland Road for the clash with Hull City. Thankfully it was an all too rare 3pm Saturday kick off on Christmas Eve Eve. The recent upturn in fortunes for TC's men and the  slow descent towards the relegation quagmire from our visitors along the M62 meant Leeds entered the game as favourites. Would the arrival of Hull's new boss, Nigel Adkins, change the Tigers fortunes though? Or would the full house of scarf waving home fans provide the intimidation to quieten the Tiger's roar? One thing for sure we were in for a rip roaring West v East Yorkshire contest and this Leeds fan who works in the heart of East Yorkshire couldn't wait!

The team news wasn't exactly full of festive joy for the Leeds fans as Saiz didn't make the starting line up after picking up a calf injury in training.  Mmmm even with Hernandez replacing him it would be huge loss as I waited patiently in the long beer queue in the Pavilion.  They really do need to sort the service out in there. So with over 35,000 crammed into Elland Road the match opened with a spectacular show of scarves during the pre match rendition of MOT.  You can keep your clappers, singing sections, goal music and all the other artificial atmosphere generating props nothing beats a full Elland Road in good voice with scarves twirling above the heads. Mint.

Despite the pre match posturing by the home fans it was the Tigers who roared into action first as they belied their lowly League position and took the game to Leeds immediately.  Grosicki, Larsson and Tomori all had chances in the first 5 minutes.  Thankfully Felix Wiedwald was on form as the much maligned Leeds goalie resisted the early Tigers pressure in confident style. Leeds were struggling to get any sort of grip on the game as Hull continued to dominate especially out wide where Grosicki was enjoying his duel with Ayling.  This wasn't in the script.  The home side were in generous mood as they continuously handed out early gifts of passes back to their East Yorkshire rivals.  Frustration began to gnaw at my pre match confidence as yet another Leeds pass found a black and amber shirt.

Then out of the gathering gloom and doom came a heavenly present sweetly delivered by McGregor in the Hull goal.  Leeds pressed forward but Hull channelled the ball back to the goalie who made a complete hash of his clearance and found SeΓ±or Hernandez 35 yard out from goal all by himself.  The Spaniard controlled the ball and sprinted forward before chipping a delightful shot over the distraught goalie and into the Hull net.  1.0 Leeds and a huge roar of relief rose up into the West Yorkshire sky.  "1.0 it's your goalie's fault" belted out from the South Stand behind the Hull goal as McGregor cut a forlorn figure as the game restarted.

Hull weren't shaken by the goal and continued to have the Lion's share of the possession.  Toral hit Wiedwald's post with a curling shot as the Leeds defence dug deep to repel the marauding Tigers.  Leeds did briefly show some glimpses of why they are challenging for a top 6 place none more so as they swept down field just before half time.  Ayling picked up the ball wide left and drove into Hull territory, looked up and pinged a lovely cross to the back post where Cibicki headed the ball back into the path of Alioski who's fierce volley forced McGregor into a stunning save.  The half finished at 1.0 to Leeds with Hull feeling rightly aggrieved that they hadn't capitalised on their dominance of possession.

Most of the Urinal Philosophers had lost their Christmas spirit as they reflected on the half, "How many times have we given the ball away" one fan moaned only to get a brutal response "Every f****** pass" from a disgruntled scarf waver. "Thank god for Wiedwald" thought another fan and in doing so showed yet again how player fortunes can change so quickly in the minds of your average football fan. To be fair to Hull we were lucky to be in front.  They had hurt us out wide nearly every time they attacked. Jansson, Cooper and some determined chasing back from midfielders had kept Hull goalless. TC had to change something and he did by bringing O'Kane on for Phillips. Was it tactical or did Phillips have an injury though?

The second half got under way with the home fans nervously watching more disjointed play, more misplaced passes and more baffling refereeing decisions. This was fast falling into the awful to poor category of games.  It was about as appealing as a soggy, overcooked sprout and giving the same amount of indigestion. For all their possession the Tigers looked toothless in front of goal but it was still enough to send the majority of Leeds fans into that stomach churning clock watching for the last 20 minutes of the game. Lasogga replaced Roofe on 76 minutes. Could he silence his doubters with some late joy in front of goal?  Not on the evidence of his first two challenges and a sweet through ball from O'Kane which he resembled an overweight Santa with the speed to match as he tried to chase it down.  Either that or he had concrete in his boots.  Eventually he did show some form as he controlled a difficult ball and turned before firing a good low shot the McGregor saved.

The game finished 1.0 to Leeds but this was a poor display from the home side.  They lacked any sort of cohesion and did miss Saiz in the middle of the park.  The main problem was the amount of balls they gave away though.  Wiedwald was the man of the match for his shot stopping and excellent distribution.  As for Hull they battled well but thankfully suffer from the lack of a finisher. In the end it was another 3 points that lifts Leeds nicely into the top 6 for Christmas but definitely a result that will look a hell of a lot better in the newspaper than it did to watch.  It wasn't a rip roaring derby in the end but at least going into work on Wednesday will be oh so sweet!

Burton up next on Boxing Day. Another 3 points up for grabs? Will Saiz return? Will Lasogga start?  Another intriguing away trip me thinks...........

Can't wait.


Merry Christmas.


Unknown said...

Thank you Andrew was there to day and your report is spot on all the best for xmass and the new year MOT πŸ‘πŸ‘πŸ‘

Andy P said...

Thanks Andrew great report as always, although didn't sound like a good game at all. Merry Christmas to you and all your family from all the Leeds fans worldwide that look forward to reading your blog. MOT

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

I attended the Norwich game last weekend and by all accounts it was pretty much like this one except we Were slightly better last weekend, good to be in the top 6 though. Thanks for all your reports I find them really enjoyable reading, happy Christmas to you and yours MOT

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments and Seasons greetings to one and all. Oh and a promoted New Year!

Unknown said...

Great read as always

Anonymous said...

Thanks for another excellent report. Agree with you about the goal music - if ever it's introduced at ER it will be desperate day indeed.

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