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Tuesday, 18 October 2016

Leeds Utd v Wigan Ath. 18th Oct 2016

Wigan Athletic arrived at Elland Road languishing in the relegation zone of the Championship with only a solitary point gained on their travels this season. Just the ideal team to play after the frustrating defeat at Derby? Especially with Leeds looking for their 5th straight win on the bounce at the Theatre of Hope. All rationale logic suggested a handsome win for Garry Monk’s men…………..but since when has logic had the remotist relationship with Leeds United?

We joined the 19,000 crowd just in time for kick off. Just the one change for Leeds as Roofe got the nod over Mowatt on the left wing. A chance for the ex-Oxford man to show he is adapting to the hustle and bustle of the Championship? The away end appeared to have more stewards than fans as the game got underway. Jacobs and Powell had early shots for the visitors but neither troubled Green in the Leeds goal. Both teams tried to play the game on the floor in the first twenty minutes but with each team pressing hard possession swapped frequently between both sides.

Wood had Leeds first real shot on 23 minutes as he snapped a left foot shot from distance low to the Wigan goalie’s right but minutes later he went one better. Sacko started the move with a quick break down the right as he ran at the fullback he benefited from a fortuitous heavy first touch before swinging a delicious cross to the back post. Wood drifted off his marker, chested the ball down and smashed it into the net in some style. 1.0 Leeds. The goal lifted Leeds and they enjoyed a good period of pressure. Wood excnaged passes with Roofe and the winger should have done better with his shot from 12 yards. Phillips then clipped a free kick over the bar. Wigan did recover some composure and threaten the Leeds goal with Jacobs seeing his shot blocked before Jansson doused Will Grigg’s fire with a superb block on the edge of the box. A minute later it took an excellent double save from Green to keep the whites in front though. Half Time 1.0 Leeds.

Leeds weren’t firing on all cylinders but with their noses in front the home fans were hoping for a 2nd goal to kill off their Lancastrian rivals. Monk’s half time team talk seemed to have done the trick as a sweet one two between Wood and Sacko released the flying winger and the young loanee hurtled into the box only to drive the ball too near the keeper and for him to scramble it away for a corner. Wood snatched at a half chance from the corner but this was encouraging from Leeds. Wood was winning his duel with the Wigan defence, Ayling and Taylor threatened down the flanks and Sacko looked not only a danger to the defence but also himself as his erratic touch bamboozled most people in the ground. Ayling and Roofe had decent shots on goal as the hour mark approached. Leeds were relatively comfortable but there was still the nagging issue of just the single goal lead. On 66 minutes Grimes replaced Sacko. The young winger received a standing ovation whilst the Wigan bench did a celebratory jig. Strange substitution?

Leeds continued to look for a second goal and they nearly succeeded when Wood met an Ayling cross and looped a header to the far post drawing a good save from the Wigan goalie. Hernandez was next to be subbed making way for Mowatt, cue another jig in the Wigan dug out! The two players who were creating the most threat to the Wigan back line were now watching from the bench. Still there was only 26 minutes to go………………… The subs did impact the game but in Wigan’s favour. They seemed to get a second wind sensing they could get an equaliser. Max Power tried a shot from outside the box but it went high and wide. 10 minutes left and the confident encouragement from the Leeds fans started to be drowned out by the sound of squeaky bums. Misplaced passes from the men in white exasparated the situation. Antonsson then replaced my man of the match Wood for the last 5 minutes. Len Goodman had now arrived in the Wigan dug out to judge the celebratory dances.

So it was with sickening predictability that Wigan got their reward in the 91st minute as a deep corner was headed back into the box for MacDonald to fire into the top corner of the Leeds goal leaving the vast majority of the crowd frustrated, angry and absloutely gutted. Unbelievable Jeff! It was too late for Leeds to respond and the game ended 1.1. Bollox.

You could hear the seething frustration oozing from fans as we headed back to the car. Why did we sit back? Why did he sub Sacko/Hernandez/Wood? or words to that affect was the general view. Football is a very cruel mistress at times. Leeds had classically snatched a draw from the jaws of victory and in doing so had created a black cloud of depression over LS11.

Wolves away on Saturday. Will Leeds find their killer touch? Will Roofe keep his place? Will Sacko improve his first touch? Time will tell!

Can’t wait.


Saturday, 15 October 2016

Derby County v Leeds United. 15th Oct 2016

Thankfully the international break is a distant memory of statatco, disjointed football played by overrated and overpaid prima donnas……..well it is if you hail from the green and pleasant land that is England. Today proper football returned with all the tribal passion anyone ever needs when watching a game as we headed to Derby to see if Leeds could continue their impressive form against the struggling Rams and their new boomerang manager, Steve McClaren. There was plenty to debate as the packed train trundled towards the East Midlands. Would Monk’s vow of silence in the stands affect Leeds adversely? Could Wood replicate his stunning goal last time out against Derby? Who would the Janssonator terminate today?

The atmosphere inside the iPro Stadium was electric as the game got underway. Mowatt replaced the injured Dallas in an otherwise unchanged Leeds team. Derby presumably buoyed by the return of Steve McClaren to the dugout started the game brightly in front of a 31,000 crowd. The early exchanges were cagey and cautious from both sides. Johnson tried a long range shot that went safely over Rob Green’s bar as the Leeds defence looked as mean as ever with Bartley and Jansson bossing things at the back.

Leeds were sitting deep but counter attacking at speed when the opportunity arose. On 28 minutes Leeds swept majestically out of defence and moved the ball sweetly to the overlapping Ayling. The pony-tailed full back looked like he was going to burst a lung as he swung a vicious ball into the box where Wood met the cross full on but the ball went just over Carson’s bar. This raised the decibel levels even higher from the Leeds travelling army as they urged the visitors forward. Leeds were content to bide their time though with both midfields cancelling each other out the match became one almighty stalemate as half time approached. Just on half time Leeds forced a corner as they tried to unlock the Derby defence. Mowatt curled a beauty right onto Bartley’s head but his thunderbolt header cannoned off the bar with me and 3,200 other Leeds fans already celebrating the goal. Half Time 0.0.

The first half was very much like watching two chess grandmasters checking each other out without wanting to reveal their attack. Leeds needed to open up in the 2nd half if they were going to take three points back up the M1. Mowatt on the left wasn’t quite working and although we had had some decent possession we hadn’t added that killer touch needed to turn possession into goals.

The 2nd period started with the angelic Will Hughes scything down Mowatt earning himself a yellow card for his troubles. Bartley then made a classic “man and ball” tackle that ended Anya’s game as he limped off to the tunnel. Russell replaced Anya. Minutes later Leeds regretted the appearance of the Derby substitute. Jansson conceded a corner. Leeds defended the first phase of the corner but when the ball rolled out to the edge of the box there wasn’t a Leeds player in sight as Russell drilled the ball through Green for the opening goal. Bollox! 1.0 Derby.

The home fans were in full voice and the Rams were now on a mini rampage. Leeds held firm though. Roofe replaced the slightly disappointing Sacko. Will Hughes brought a good save from Green with a stinging shot from outside the box. If Leeds conceded now it would be goodnight Vienna. Vydra had the ball in the net but was ruled offside. As the game entered the last twenty minutes it was Leeds who had the momentum as Derby sat back to defend what they had. Phillips had a shot saved quickly followed by Roofe seeing his shot blocked as Leeds finally built up a head of steam.

Grimes came on for Mowatt and Antonsson replaced Wood as Monk tried to change things from the stands. Hernadez, Grimes, Bartley and O’Kane all had shots saved or blocked in a frantic 5 minutes as the game slid into 6 minutes added time. With seconds ticking away another late Leeds move saw Antonsson turn and hit a sweet shot that rattled the post with Carson well beaten. It just wasn’t Leeds day. The ref blew the whistle and the home fans danced with delight whilst the vociferous away fans gave their team a thunderous ovation.

In the end Leeds paid dearly for a cagey approach in the first two thirds of the game. With a bit of luck they could have had at least a point but it wasn’t to be. The defence was strong again today and overall it wasn’t a bad performance. The balance of the side suffers though when Dallas isn’t playing. Onwards and upwards. We will win more than we lose playing like this. Wigan up next on Tuesday. Can we get back to winning ways against the Pie Munchers? Course we can!

Can’t wait.


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