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Saturday, 21 October 2017

Bristol City v Leeds Utd 21st Oct 2017.

It's exactly 211 miles to Ashton Gate from my house. Having lost 4 out of the last 5 games and facing a Bristol City side flying high in the championship on the back of an impressive run of form my optimism was not exactly the highest it's been all season as I pointed the car south for the long trek. Still the championship results have been as bonkers as ever this season so who's to say we can't come away with a comfortable 2.0 victory? And so began the inevitable creeping increase of optimism that match day brings. No matter how poor we've been in the last match by the time kick off arrives Leeds are always going to win aren't they? Or is it just me?

By the time I got to Bristol Storm Brian was in the vicinity or for those of a northern persuasion it was a bit wet and windy. TC had certainly bitten the bullet with his team selection. Jansson dropped to the bench in favour of Pennington Vieira back into a centre midfield with O'Kane and Alioski and Saiz out wide. Phillips in a sort of No 10 role supporting Lasogga up front. Wow! The 3,700 travelling army took in the team changes as the game kicked off in front of a packed Ashton Gate. From the first minute this was a different team from the abject one that were defeated against Reading. Challenges were won, 2nd balls were greedily snapped up by the black shirts as Leeds ripped into high flying Bristol. This wasn't Storm Brian this was Storm Leeds and after just 4 minutes the away fans were in raptures. Phillips chased a Bristol defender and blocked his clearance. The ball ran to Lasogga who drove into the box before back healing the ball to Saiz who's shot deflected past the Bristol goalie into the net. Goallllllllllllllll Leeeeeeds! The noise from the away end was like rolling thunder as the recent weeks poor performances were all lanced like a nasty boil with a collective outpouring of relief and pleasure. Mint!

Leeds were on fire just as they were earlier in the season. Vieira snapped at anything loose in midfield, Saiz and Alioski posed a threat on both flanks whilst Lasogga and Phillips were bullying the  supposed rock solid home defence so it was no real surprise when Leeds doubled their lead on 14 minutes. Saiz and O'Kane exchanged delightful passes in the centre circle............O'Kane drove towards the Bristol box and released a slide rule pass for Alioski who's shot was blocked but up popped Saiz to blast home his 2nd of the game...........more rolling thunder and more joyful celebrations by the whole of the Leeds team. Delicious!

Leeds were purring like a well oiled machine when they moved forward and as miserly as Scrooge when they defended their 18 yard line. What a transformation! Pennington and Cooper were winning everything at the back as the whole team gelled together despite the formation change. Phillips looked a different player in the more advanced role and as for Vieira well there aren't enough superlatives to describe the impact he was having on the game.......and he's only a teenager!

Half time came with Leeds cruising at 2.0 and all of a sudden all was right with the world. The Urinal Philosophers were in ecstasy with the first 45 minutes "Why hasn't Vieira played all season" one fan queried whilst another thought "We're not missing Jansson, Pennington's not missed a ball" finally one fan dreamily declared "I think Saiz could turn me gay" What did Harold Wilson, ask your Dad, once say about a week being a long time in Politics........it's a lot longer in Football. The Reading performance seemed light years away from today's showing.

Leeds started the 2nd half on the front foot as they attacked the end housing their adoring fans. Phillips got up well to meet an Alioski cross but couldn't keep his header down. Soon after Lasogga ran strongly before unleashing a strong shot that the goalie saved low to his left. The away fans were enjoying the performance as the decibel levels lifted. Alioski just couldn't finish after a superb move sliced open the home defence with the Leeds fans drooling behind the goal. Just after the hour Hegeler was yellow carded for trying to pinch Vieira's shirt as he sped away from him. The Leeds player kept driving on with the Bristol player still clinging to his coat tails. Lasogga took the free kick but it deflected off the wall for a corner as Leeds turned the screw on the desperate home side. Phillips trotted over to take the corner. His pin point corner was met by Lasogga's head as the ball flew into the net. 3.0 Leeds and game over. Fantastic.

Bristol pushed forward looking for a consolation but were met with stiff resistance from the Leeds team. With 12 minutes left Berardi fouled Taylor. Free kick. Taylor jumped up and ran to Berardi and thrust his face into the Swiss full back's face.......bad move! Taylor was left writhing on the floor with a broken nose whilst Josh Warrington's ring walk partner stood glowering over him. Both players got a straight red. Jansson then thought he'd offer the entire Bristol bench out just to add to the drama! If we've been guilty of being too soft in recent weeks that soon put paid to that.

Bristol should have had a consolation goal but Diedhiou made a horrible hash of a free header 8 yards out. The game finished 3.0 to Leeds with the 3 sides of the ground nearly empty and one side belting out a raucous rendition of MOT followed by the Samuel Saiz song. Absolutely music to my ears. Vieira was my man of the match for an awesome return to the first team but every player deserved massive praise for an inspiring response to their poor recent form. The grid locked city centre and the long drive home didn't worry me one jot. A 13 hour round trip was well worth it to watch that performance. Can they repeat it against Leicester on Tuesday and probably more importantly blunt the Blades on Friday night? Course they can.........

Can't wait.

MOT.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Leeds Utd v Reading. 14th Oct 2017.

With the exciting International break neatly filed in the "Cures for insomnia" folder I boarded the train with Mrs MOT for the short journey to Leeds along with an army of Little Mix fans with their Mums heading for the afternoon gig in Leeds. Ironically Jaap Stam's Royals were the visitors to Elland Road tasked with infusing some exciting football entertainment to the sold out Elland Road crowd. Statisticians who marvel at the % possession figures of a team were salivating themselves into a frenzied coma at the prospect! Meanwhile I was worrying about more down to earth issues. Could Leeds take advantage of Cardiff and Bristol City's slip ups last night? Would the home comforts of a packed Elland Road inspire a victory? Had Leeds learnt from their capitulation at the Hillsborough horror show? We were about to find out.

The main talking point with TC's selection was Lonergan replacing the vulnerable Wiedwald in goals a decision welcomed by the majority of fans. The old stadium was bathed in sunshine as the game got underway with the obligatory songs welcoming Jap Staam back to Elland Road! The opening exchanges were scrappy to say the least. On 12 minutes Lasogga should have done better with a header from the back post with Roofe unmarked in the six yard box but the big German striker's header nestled safely in the Reading keeper's hands.

Leeds were doing nothing to convince their critical fans that they had solved the lack of bite and winning the second balls in midfield as the game meandered along in disjointed mediocrity. Leeds were playing slowly out from the back. Reading were sitting back and letting them just as Millwall, Cardiff and Sheffield Weds did. Once again Leeds were finding it difficult to create any real chances whereas Reading were finding joy on both flanks. This wasn't looking good. On 40 minutes Lonergan pulled off a superb save down to his right to keep the scores level. Half time couldn't come quick enough. 0.0 and there weren't many in the 33,000 crowd impressed with what they'd seen least of all the Urinal Philosophers. "That was rubbish" one fan moaned while another asked a pertinent question "What the f*** has happened to Jansson?" Finally one frustrated fan declared " I wish I'd gone to see Little Mix instead" It was that bad. Even Mrs MOT was pointing out the failings of Pontus and the fact we don't win any tackles in midfield anymore.

The 2nd half started pretty much the same as the first and when Jansson strode forward from the back only to try a ridiculous shot from 40 yards that sailed into the kop my head sunk into my hands for the 99th time since kick off. The referee was having as bad a game as Leeds with some weird decisions that riled the already frustrated home crowd. All in all this had the all too familiar feeling of home matches going badly wrong that I thought we had finally got rid of with the new regime? But I was wrong this was as bad as any Ken Bates or Cellino inspired team I'm afraid.

With just over an hour played there were two significant substitutions. Mo Barrow came on for Reading, yes that Mo Barrow who looked clueless during his time at Leeds, and then Sacko replaced Roofe for Leeds. Both changes lifted the tempo of the game. Sacko had a couple of long runs that gave an smidgen of hope to the home fans whilst Barrow pulled a shot wide with his first touch. Both teams realised the game was there for the taking and pushed forward looking for a winner. O'Kane drove forward purposely from midfield but shot horribly wide. Hernandez pulled a shot wide as the game stuttered into life. At the other end Barrow found space and fired a vicious shot at the Leeds goal but once again Lonergan pulled off another superb save.

With 12 minutes left Grot replaced the disappointing Lasogga as Leeds tried to get up a head of steam. Jansson should have done better from 10 yards after Hernandez pulled a ball back from the bye line. It was going to be one of those days. Minutes later Saiz had a tame header saved. With 5 minutes left Leeds watched in horror as Barrow slipped home a simple chance after some woeful non-defending from Leeds. The ex Leeds man was booked for over-celebrating. 1.0 Reading and the home stands started to empty.

Leeds weren't finished though. Phillips hit a volley from outside the box that seared over the bar and then in the 91st minute Leeds were handed a life line as the Ref awarded the most dubious of penalties after Saiz went down in the box. Up stepped Hernandez and hit a weak shot that the Reading goalie easily saved. Speechless! More fans heading for the exits. The game finished 1.0 to Reading. Another poor showing from Leeds and their 4th defeat out of the last 5 games. Jansson was poor today but then again other than Lonergan everybody was off colour. We're lacking any sort of steel in midfield and we are bullied off too many 2nd balls. Not good. Surely Vieira would add value to this team? Also whilst I love Berardi we need to play a left footed left back to give the team balance going forward.

The journey home was interesting to say the least as the train guard announced "this train will be delayed as there is a suspicious package on the platform at Selby station, the Bomb squad are on their way" Stunning! Just a perfect end to a perfect day! The bomb squad did their job and we eventually got home. The suspicious package turned out to be an old sleeping bag in the end. Unfortunately this will be another weekend ruined by Leeds United. It's not the first and won't be the last but just when you think we've got a team to challenge for the top six we start playing like we've never played together before. Nobody does Leeds United like Leeds United though. Bristol City away next week. Should I bother going? Course I should..........bring it on!

Can't wait.

MOT.

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