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Saturday, 20 January 2018

Leeds Utd v Millwall. 20th Jan 2018.

It's fair to say that there's been a bit of January turbulence on Planet Leeds this week.  This is not unusual as the low pressure front of Leeds United's transfer spending meets a high pressure front of fan's over expectation that has been building through December and creates storms over low lying parts of Twitterscape and in exposed areas of Facebook. Laurens De Bock and Adam Forshaw made it through the inclement weather to bolster the Leeds squad with Cameron Borthwick-Jackson being blown back across the Pennines to Old Trafford which also increased the squad's ability. There are a number of strikers in the cloud of possibility hanging to the North of Elland Road but none have landed in West Yorkshire despite massive pressure from Leeds's extended scouting network on social media.  Watch this space.

Our friends from South Bermondsey are today's visitors to Elland Road and they are sure of a warm reception by the locals.  News that Forshaw is injured for the game is a bit odd given that apparently one of the reasons he was brought in was to cover for injuries and suspensions after O'Kane's moment of madness at Ipswich? On the flip side Vieira was fit again.  To say the Leeds midfield has been poorer during his absence is like stating the bleeding obvious at a World conference for stating the bleeding obvious alumni. Another near capacity crowd was heading for The Theatre of Hope as I pondered what had become another "must win game" for the mighty whites.  Would De Bock start? Can we keep 11 players on the pitch?  Would Morison prosper against Jansson on his return to Elland Road?  We were about to find out!

TC had to shuffle his pack due to injuries and suspensions.  In came De Bock at left back and Vieira in for O'Kane. Lasogga started up front with Roofe in the ten role and Hernandez and Alioski out wide.  A nice attacking selection against a team who have yet to taste the sweet taste of victory away from South London this season.  The game kicked off and immediately exploded into life as first O'Brien tested Wiedwald in the first minute after good work by ex Leeds man Morison then Lasogga got on the end of a cross from Alioski but headed wide with barely a minute gone!  Both teams clearly had no intention of playing defensively as chances came and went at both ends. Millwall had a goal chalked off for an offence in the box before Lasogga wasted a glorious headed chance when he was unmarked just 8 yards out.  Then Phillips released the much maligned striker again in the box but the Millwall keeper thwarted him with a good save. At the other end Wallace, Morison and Gregory were all enjoying time and space against the less than frugal Leeds back four.  Gregory should have scored when he got beyond Cooper but pulled his shot wide.  Phew!  "You're f****** shit" belted out the Kop to the grieving striker.  "You only sing that when you're 3.0 up not 0.0" I shouted to anybody that would listen. 3 minutes later I was sadly proved correct.

Leeds again stood off their Millwall counterparts allowing Morison to ping a cross to the far post for O'Brien to head home unchallenged at the far post.  A good goal but schoolboy defending from Leeds.  We were falling into the same trap as we did at Millwall and losing all the 2nd balls and winning no headers in our half of the field.  This didn't look good.  1.0 Millwall.  Leeds were wobbling and couldn't find an answer to any ball launched into their box where Millwall were winning everything with a simple tactic of keeping the ball away from Jansson and also keeping Jansson away from the ball.  Leeds were looking very vulnerable and were in desperate need of some inspiration.  What they got was another wild error of judgement by Liam Cooper as he lunged after a ball he'd mis-controlled and got a straight red for an over the top challenge on Saville.  3rd Red card on the trot for Leeds FFS.

So after the two benches had a heated debate over the sending off the Millwall fans celebrated and the  32,000 Leeds fans once again were left in utter despair and frustration at the plight of their team.  Of course in true Leeds style it soon got worse as Jansson conceded a so called free kick and got a yellow for his protestations in the meantime Millwall took a quick free kick and while the Leeds defence were still feeling sorry for themselves Morison clipped a ball into the path of Gregory to double the Lion's lead and kill the game with just 42 minutes gone.  Surely Leeds couldn't back from this with eleven men never mind ten? Half time came just in time to avoid Leeds conceding again.  Boo's rang around the Theatre of Frustration as the teams headed off for their cup of tea.  Shocking.

As you can imagine the Urinal Philosophers were in unforgiving but humorous mood......"I'm going to need to drink a lot more if I continue to watch this shite just to numb the pain" said one disgruntled fan whilst another was livid because "No passion, no f****** fight and no idea......just like at Millwall"  " If Lasogga had only put those two chances away early on....." bemoaned one hopeful fan.  Yes at this moment of time the Urinal Philosophers had decided our season was finished such is the raw emotion of following a football team like Leeds.  TC now needed to change something and fast.  The team needed also to get a grip and play as if they wanted to win despite being a man short.  Thankfully we were about to witness an unbelievably emotional 45 minutes of football!

Pennington was on for Vieira.  Leeds erupted like a team possessed to rock Millwall to the core.  A minute into the half and a mistake by Millwall gave Roofe a chance with the ball in the inside left position.  He drove into the box and laid back a perfect ball for Lasogga who made no mistake as he thumped it into the back of the net.  2.1 Millwall and Elland Road was bouncing.  Millwall were visibly wilting as the ten men of Leeds changed their approach.  Gone was the hesitancy and lack of passion of the first half replaced by raw determination and commitment something the crowd sucked up with joy.  Leeds were now counter attacking with speed and intensity.  On 51 minutes Wiedwald somehow clawed away a header from Gregory and Leeds immediately sprung an attack.  De Bock overlapped and fired in a cross that Archer dropped in the Millwall goal......three Leeds players pounced like hungry Hyenas on the loose ball in the Millwall box with Roofe finally getting the ball over the line.................2.2 and the decibel level went off the scale as the home fans celebrated a remarkable and courageous comeback.  Unbelievable.

The Lions were licking their wounds but Leeds now smelt blood and went in for the kill. Hernandez saw his shot squeak wide as Leeds applied the pressure making light of the one man disadvantage.  On 62 minutes the impossible happened.  Leeds flooded forward again.........Hernandez teased the Millwall defenders before finding Lasogga in the box.  The big German turned and fired a sweet shot into the bottom corner to give Leeds the lead at 3.2.  Absolutely incredible and Elland Road was a sea of bodies apart from the 1,200 away friends.  This is why I love football.  One minute you are in the depths of despair and then you're on cloud nine.  Just the 28 minutes left for Leeds to hang on though.

Another ex Leeds man, Tom Elliot, came on for Millwall as the Lions tried to get back in the game.  15 minutes left and suddenly Pennington is flying out of defence and hurtling down the right wing on attack.  Very entertaining but FFS we're one nil up with ten men!  Sure enough the ball was lost and swiftly moved down field by Millwall through the space he'd left and Leeds conceded a corner.  Leeds now started to sit deep and invite Millwall onto them as tired legs took their toll.  Shaughnessy came on for Lasogga so with Roofe already departed for Dallas Leeds now didn't have a striker.  Mmm this could be interesting.

With just three minutes left on the clock Leeds conceded yet another corner.  Jake Cooper won the header and Tom Elliot finished in style to break the hearts of fans and players alike.  3.3 and still 4 minutes added time to go.  2 minutes into added time saw Dallas lose the ball on the half way and Morison sprint into the open space in front of the Leeds box before releasing Wallace who's deflected shot flew agonisingly into the Leeds net and give the Lions the lead.  4.3 Millwall and utter dejection in the Leeds stands.  How was that possible?  Why couldn't we just hold onto possession?  I was still in post goal shock as the final twist of a remarkable game played out.  Leeds attacked again and with possibly the best move of the game sliced Millwall in two for Shaughnessy to get on the end of Phillips cross but somehow Archer made the save in the Millwall goal.  Unbelievable.  The game finished 4.3.  In the end an absolutely thrilling game that saw the full rollercoaster of emotions over the 90 minutes.

Leeds paid for a very poor first half and poor defending against a hard working and resolute Millwall side.  De Bock had a good debut and Lasogga showed why TC brought him back into the starting line up.  Ultimately Leeds paid a heavy price for Cooper's red card and some naive defending which spoilt a courageous 2nd half comeback.  Football is a 90 minute game though. Conceding 4 at home to a team that hadn't won away all season is not the hallmark of a top six team in this ultra competitive league I'm afraid.

Hull City up next which for me working in East Yorkshire has added spice.  Please don't let me down?

Can't wait.



Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Wow what a game, discipline seems a major issue, Coopers tackle was pathetic and he's the captain for Christ's sake. I see some fans calling for TC's head I personally think not what about you Andrew wherein do you think lies the problems, I suppose giving the bloody ball away constantly doesn't help but I would be interested in your take.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

That was some game, Cooper should hang his head in shame what a stupid pathetic tackle, don't get me started on keeping the bloody ball, I suppose after following this great club all over England and Europe I would be used to it but it still keeps the passion rising. MOT

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Sorry about the double post I lost the connection and did not realise the first post had been sent. MOT

Andrew Butterwick said...

Leeds watcher,
I think there are a combination of reasons we are not quite there as a team. Individual errors have hurt us badly such as Dallas losing the ball from the throw in for the last goal. Tactically we're still wet behind the ears in my opinion. We were battered by Millwall's direct approach at the Den yet we didn't seem to make any accounting for that yesterday? The ability to keep possession when we are pressed hard is currently lacking. Discipline is now an issue as well with the number of suspensions beginning to bite. On the positive side we have got players who can open teams up especially when we play on the break and we have got a decent back four. A lot of the defensive chaos yesterday stemmed from midfield failings. Lasogga is a clever striker. If you look at the goals he got yesterday especially the 2nd his positioning is top draw. Needs match fitness though.


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