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Sunday, 29 April 2018

Norwich City v Leeds Utd 28th April 2018.

Norwich away is always an endurance test for Leeds fans given the geographical location of Norfolk's senior football team.  So after passing what seemed like a million flat fields on the train journey through the soulless Fens I arrived at Norwich station to be greeted by a slate grey sky and persistent rain dampening the last away game of a massively disappointing season.

The pre match banter on the train and in the pub was subdued and laced with gallows humour as we desperately searched for some positives to draw from the latest campaign.  Bailey Peacock Farrell's emergence as the No 1 goalie and Pablo's contract signing was as far as it got.  The negatives are too many to list here but suffice to say there was a rebellious mood from fans who have just had enough bubbling under the alcohol fuelled preparation for the clash with Norwich.  The fear was the final away performance would mirror the disjointed, rudderless and quite frankly embarrassing efforts that we have witnessed since Xmas.  Bums were clenched and fingers optimistically crossed as kick off approached.

This was Wes Hoolahan's last home appearance for the Canaries and Delia's Yellow army were there in force with kleenex at the ready to give their star player a fitting send off.  PH had made the one change from the Barnsley game with Cooper's experience getting the nod over O'Connor in the back four.  Leeds kicked off and immediately were on the attack with a good move that ended with Vieira testing the Norwich goalie in the first minute. Soon the season's weaknesses started to show through though in all their glory.  Lost possession far too easily in midfield allowed Norwich to move with ease towards the Leeds goal.  Maddison should have done better with his first chance but he blazed it over the bar.  The first 30 minutes were scrappy with both teams guilty of bad decision making and even worse implementation of attempted moves.  This was a game that would only remain goalless if the finishing was as bad as the ball retention on both sides.

Handley received a yellow for a cynical foul on Saiz as he turned the Norwich centre half on the halfway line.  Then on 39 minutes the game came to life.  Another Leeds free kick was drifted into the Norwich box where Gunn punched half clear.............Vieira lined up a speculative volley which he made a complete hash of but the ball fell to Phillips who hit a sweet shot past the despairing Gunn to give the visitors a surprise lead.  1.0 Leeds.  Minutes later Leeds tore through the groggy Norwich defence again but Roofe failed to convert the chance from 14 yards.  Leeds would regret that miss dearly as the game progressed.

Leading one nil and heading for the break was a comfortable position for Leeds but in true self destruct Leeds style they chose the 45th minute to present Hoolahan with his leaving present.  Vieira lost another ball in midfield.........the ball was moved quickly to Hoolahan who advanced towards the retreating Leeds defence and lined up a shot from 25 yards.............Jansson half heartedly stuck a leg out to block the shot but all it did was deflect the ball in a loop over BPF........the ball hit the inside of the post and rolled agonisingly across the goal and just over the line.  Bollox. Carrow Road erupted as if Mustard had just been announced as the ultimate cure for Cancer.  The local hero had scored on his final home appearance..........well actually I would have chalked it down as a Jansson own goal but that might have been a tad pedantic?  HT 1:1.

The sad thing with the urinal philosophers is that they don't get mad anymore.  Nobody was surprised Norwich equalised.  Nobody was surprised we gave possession away without the slightest shrug of the shoulders.  Nobody was surprised the team lacked shape and cohesion.  This is a team in serious relegation form after all.

The second half was so predictable.  Leeds had their chances, Alioski, Roofe, Saiz and Forshaw but all failed.  Alioski's was the best effort of the bunch.  At the other end BPF kept the score down to a reasonable level with another performance beyond his years.  Inevitably Norwich got the winner when Murphy fired home from inside the box after yet more good work from Hoolahan on 70 minutes.  When Murphy shot there were 4 Leeds players within 5 yards of him.  Nobody got tight on him before he received the ball.  Nobody closed him down before he shot.  It appeared nobody gave a fuck!

Grot came on for Alioski and then Lasogga made an appearance.  You will not be surprised to hear that their combined impact on the game was equal to that of trying to trace the impact of dropping a tennis ball with a seismometer.  The game ended in a Norwich victory by 2.1.  Two very average teams on show with little quality other than Hoolahan to brighten up a gloomy day.  BPF had an excellent game.  Cooper also put in a good shift but the sum of the total effort was shocking.  No real passion, no leadership and no hope.  PH has had a negative impact on the team since he arrived.  The team lose shape when they lose the ball which is often and seem incapable of stringing more than three effective passes together.  The team was booed at the end and the pre match feeling of rebellion in the ranks was now boiling over.  Still I'd just the 4 hour hour train journey home to reflect on another shocking performance.

Thankfully just the final game of the season to go next week at Elland Road.  I fear for what will happen over summer.  At least I will be protected from weekend depression until August!

Can't wait.



David Smith said...

Always a good read, even though your shared pain is palpable ! Possibly some encouraging news on the Bartley front's the hope that kills! MOT

Matt said...

Best bit was the inflatables; more effort knocking those about in the crowd than was on the pitch. Collect 'em all; there was the football beach ball, the beach ball, the crocodile, the shark, the orange saxophone and the Nemo from Finding Nemo.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Can I just thank you for your blogs throughout the season, to write as you do about the total garbage on show is a credit to you. I took in the Barnsley game last weekend and all the errors you wrote about today were there for all to see last Saturday, we did manage to win so I suppose the 450 round trip was worth it. I hope we have a good summer but if I'm honest I am beginning to doubt PH, such a mess.

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Do think Arsene Wenger fancies a proper challenge

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for all the comments.
I'll believe the Bartley rumours when he's signed. As for Arsene I assume that was written tongue in cheek?

Leeds watcher since 65 said...

Unfortunately yes

Anonymous said...

Once again the "travels of a Leeds Fan" have illuminated a thoroughly drab and depressing season.

Thank you.

There was one opening paragraph a few months ago, comparing the weather in Yorkshire to the climatic conditions on Planet Leeds United, which was sheer genius.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Andrew for your excellent reports throughout what has become another depressingly familiar season.

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