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Saturday, 2 May 2015

Leeds United v Rotherham United. 2nd May 2015

During the week Neil Redfearn declared that "all I am doing is fighting for the club and if that's a crime then I'm guilty" yet another indication from the unassuming Head Coach that he "gets Leeds" unlike the owner and his deputies. Incredibly Cellino had chosen not to renew Redfearn's contract before today's final game against Steve Evan's reprieved Rotherham United side. With the rotound Millers boss threatening to turn up in his beach wear against the background of a wave of emotional support for Refearn today promised to be...............well as the Monty Python announcer used to say "Now for something completely different"

Elland Road was buzzing as the Quiet One, Daughter Saz and yours truly dumped the car and headed for the Pavillion for some pre match refreshments.  Redfearn kept the same starting eleven from last weeks victory at Wednesday. The game got underway in front of a remarkable 32,000 crowd for this meaningless end of season game. The opening exchanges did little to enthuse either side's fans as each team cancelled the other out in a low tempo first twenty minutes. Bamba then launched himself at a free kick only to see his header drift wide before our newly prolific goal scorer, Morison, slid the ball into the net only for the goal to be ruled out for offside. This flurry of mild excitement inspired chances at both ends as the game meandered to half time. Austin hit a scorching drive just past the post from 30 yards whilst Lafferty wasted the best chance of the half when he sent his flying header straight at Taylor in the Leeds goal. The frustrating, dreary half finished 0.0.

The support for Neil Redfearn was as vocal as ever in the opening period supplemented by numerous Purple beach balls bouncing around the ground in defiance of Mr Cellino's dislike of the said colour. "The send half won't be as disappointing as the first" I rashly announced to daughter Saz as she marvelled at how so many fans continue to watch what she described as frustrating rubbish.

Now I'd like to report that Leeds came out for the second half with all guns blazing and treated the crowd to a 45 minutes of high octane entertainment to finish off another challenging season........but they didn't. Neither team seemed capable of anything other than some very pedestrian paced passing and very conservative decision making in both attack and defence. A classic it was not. Liam Cooper did raise hopes on 53 minutes when he connected beautifully with a corner only for the Rotherham keeper to make a comfortable save.  Billy Sharp came off the bench on 55 minutes to replace Barardi as Redfearn switched to a more attacking 4-4-2. He did add a little impetus but not enough to truly threaten the goalless score line.  Morison was replaced on 81 minutes by Montenegro as Leeds did build up a slight head of steam.  Austin did test the keeper with a viciously dipping shot that he was glad to parry away for a corner and Mowatt wasted a glorious chance from a free kick.

 White came on for a lively cameo near the end but a tepid Yorkshire derby ended 0.0 to bring the curtain down on another season. We stayed behind to salute the players and Redfearn on their end of season lap of honour.  The burning question on everybody's lips though was how many of them will be still wearing the white shirt of Leeds come August? Just to put the cap on a frustrating afternoon we had the delight of taking one hour to exit the car park. Mint! Bamba and Cooper stood out for me in a very disappointing game which only highlighted the fact that whilst we currently have a very talented core of young players we desperately need an influx of 4 to 5 quality players if we are to challenge for promotion next season. Of course before that could happen we need clarity on the Head coach position from our absent owner.  Another summer of chaos at Elland Road is on the cards me thinks.  Still it couldn't be any worse than last year could it when we had a non league Head coach who took us half way across Europe to thump a pub team 16 nil before training in an ice cold river?

Have a good summer everyone and thank you for reading my ramblings throughout the season. God willing we will do it all again come August because one year we will get it right. There will be no off the field mis-management, no selling star players or buying second rate journeymen, an owner we can trust and an influx of true quality to bolster the team.  Well I can dream you never know.......

Can't wait.


Saturday, 25 April 2015

Sheff Wed 1:2 Leeds United. 25th April 2015

Hillsborough was the destination for our last away game of another hugely frustrating season. Dark clouds hung over South Yorkshire as the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and yours truly headed down the M1 for the lunchtime kick off. There were no last minute withdrawals from the squad this week although none of the "sick note 6" were available for the clash with Sheff Wed but I don't think any of the 4,000 away fans heading for the Leppings Lane end could give a flying f***.  They only want to see players who want to play for Leeds. The one's that don't know where the door is.

The minutes silence before the game for the 56 Bradford City fans who lost their lives in the Valley Parade fire 30 years ago took on a more poignant meaning as I stood in the very stand where 96 Liverpool fans also perished in tragic circumstances. Such sad memories of so many lives wasted unnecessarily.

Redfearn had switched back to the 4-5-1 formation with Billy Sharp making way for Barardi. The atmosphere inside the stadium was nicely warming up as our latest Yorkshire derby got under way. Leeds went oh so near in the first minute as Byram hassled the hesitant defence and slipped a sublime ball through to Mowatt as he strode into the box but Westwood spread himself to deny the young midfielder the opening goal and me £90 in winnings for the first goal scorer. Bastard! Leeds took inspiration from the early chance and took the game to the Owls. Murphy tried a shot which Westwood easily held whilst Lavery jinked into the Leeds box before curling his shot high into the Leeds fans behind Stuart Taylor's goal.

The frenetic start was littered with free kicks as you expect in a derby and Helan got the first yellow for the home side as he scythed down Byram 20 yards out. Right in Mowatt territory. Mowatt stepped up and struck his shot just the wrong side of Westwood's post as once again I sniffed the possibility of a successful bet.  Leeds continued to have the better of a scrappy game as the away fans sang Neil Redfearn's name. Then just when everything was going well for Leeds we once again fell to the curse of the penalty. Byram tussled with Isgove in what seemed to be a good yard outside the area but the referee calmly pointed to the spot to outrage of the travelling fans. The fans outrage was nothing compared to Sol Bamba who went absolutely ballistic and had to be restrained by both sets of players. "he'll get a red for this" I wrongly commented to HC. Mcguire stepped up and dispatched the penalty with ease before goading the Leeds fans on his way to celebrate in front of the ecstatic Owls fans. 1.0 Wednesday.

The goal rattled Leeds and it was the Owls who were now pushing forward looking for a second as half time approached. Tom Lees sent a header goalwards but Taylor tipped the ball over for another corner just before the half time whistle. HT 1.0 Wednesday. The ever critical Leeds fans were not happy. "Morison's a waste of space" one assistant coach sat behind me declared before slating Redfearn's tactics from a half that we were on top up to the dubious penalty. Football is a funny old game at times.

Leeds recovered some composure after the break and started to test the Wednesday defence. Austin hit a shot into the ground and just past the post from a corner as Wednesday looked to hang onto what they had but on 55 minutes the away side got just what they deserved. With Aidey White warming up to replace Taylor the referee penalised Semedo for grappling Bamba on the edge of the box at a free kick. Leeds lined the ball up with both Murphy and Mowatt positioned to take the shot. Murphy strode forward and hammered the ball into the wall but the ball fell to Morison who tried a shot with legs flailing all around him from 8 yards.......the ball deflected onto the 6 yard line where Charlie Taylor toe poked the ball home to the delight of the travelling hordes. I could hear Noel Whelan shouting get innnnnnnnnnnnnn! along with 4,000 other passionate battle weary fans. 1.1 and definitely game on. Poor old Aidey White put his bib back on and slumped to the bench!

The game was now nip and tuck as both sides looked for a winner.  Stevie May came on for the Owls and he escaped his markers to head wide from a dangerous cross. For a game with nothing to play for suddenly the tension levels were lifted. Billy Sharp entered the fray at the expense of Mowatt and immediately lifted the away side with a couple of niggling runs at the tiring home defence. Wednesday were starting to wilt and Leeds smelt blood. On 71 minutes Leeds broke quickly out of defence. Byram glided onto the ball on the half way and motored forward before releasing "waste of space" Morison with a defence splitting pass. The much maligned Leeds striker bore down on Westwood's goal with 4,000 fans trying to suck the ball into the net...............his first shot was saved but that didn't worry the Leeds forward he just picked up the rebound and dispatched it into the Owls net from a tight angle to give Leeds a 2.1 lead. The Leppings Lane end erupted with even Morison's harshest critic doing cartwheels behind me.

Leeds should have killed the game two minutes later when Morison broke away again but this time he chose to the pull the ball back to Taylor on the far post with Billy Sharp wide open on the penalty spot. A few nervy minutes later we were all celebrating a welcome victory as the ref blew his whistle to give the signal for about 1,000 riot police to trot across in front of the away fans to keep them off the pitch. Comical really especially when the Leeds players walked through them to throw their shirts to the crowd.

In the end a good win for Redfearn's men. Barardi had an excellent game at left back with Bamba and Cooper commanding the centre of the Leeds defence. The pitch wasn't the best and the ball spent a hell of a lot of time in the air so it won't go down in memory as a classic but it was a win. It seems inconceivable that Redfearn will be sacked after the Rotherham game next Saturday after all he's done to turn a season round that was heading for disaster as a result of the barmy decisions of our mad Italian owner but I fear this will be the unassuming Redfearn's last away game in charge. Absolutely ridiculous.

So another season of away games comes to an end. We've seen the highs of victories at Bournemouth, Huddersfield, Fulham and Boro mixed with the usual lows that we now accept as part of the membership of the LUFC family. As ever the travelling support has been phenomenal and I do wonder it would be like if we ever put up a real promotion challenge? Maybe next year?

Can't wait.


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