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Saturday, 28 November 2015

QPR 1:0 Leeds United. 28th Nov 2015.

After the ludicrous Black Friday event I was looking forward to a White Saturday as we boarded the train and headed south to the capital for our clash with QPR. Thankfully our decent form away from the Theatre of Despair gave some hope of success against Mr Warnock's expensive under achievers as we debated team selection and other matters Leeds whilst gobbling up the miles towards London. Will Taylor be back? Will Byram fight Coyle off for a place on the bench? What will the latest loan signing be like? Can Leeds withstand 90 minutes of the opposition playing their socks off without fault? Oh I do like a good old fashioned London awayday.

The team news filtered through as we got to Loftus Road. Byram was still on the bench, Wootton somehow still at right back and Murphy made way for Bridcutt. Charlie Taylor replaced the suspended Berardi. Even the substantial pre match refreshments we'd consumed couldn't disguise the concern in persevering with Wootton at right back together with throwing Bridcutt straight into the team without any game time this season. At least the dangerous Austin was on the bench for QPR and not starting. Still we squeezed into the away end along with the other 3,300 masochists and the game was under way.

Bridcutt was soon in the action as he chased back and robbed Hoilett of the ball on the edge of the box but the ref amazingly not only gave a free kick to the home side but also booked the Leeds debutant. Thankfully the free kick sailed into the massed bank of Leeds fans behind the goal. The game was scrappy and disjointed reflecting the league position of both teams. Leeds struggled to get any fluent passing movement going but were defending well when QPR attacked. Charlie Taylor soon reminded the Leeds faithful what they had been missing during his absence with a number of timely tackles and clever interceptions. Leeds first chance came after 25 minutes when Cooper released Wood with a ball beyond the QPR high line defence. Wood coolly rounded goalkeeper Green.............shoot ffs........but no he then took another couple of touches and ended up blasting over the stand from four yards out. The reaction from the travelling support was understandable. Safe to say his reputation as a striker who doesn't score was massively enhanced.

QPR were dominating the game though and it was only some last ditch blocks and tackles from the over worked Leeds defence that prevented Silvestri from being peppered with shots. Half Time 0:0 but Leeds rushed off the field like a boxer desperate to reach his corner to recover from a volley of body shots that were sucking the energy out of him. Leeds had not been in the game in the first 45 minutes with a tendency to play without any width and rely on the long ball out of defence. Very frustrating because the home side were not a lot better than the mis-firing Yorkshiremen. Still there was always the half time team talk to freshen things up a bit?

Both Dallas and Antenucci had "attempts" on goal in the first 5 minutes of the second period which injected a small dose of false hope into the veins of the long suffering away fans. That hope lasted about two minutes as Warnock sent on his star striker, Austin, at the 56 minute mark to the accompaniment of the sound of 3,300 clenched buttocks in the away end. Charlie Austin is lethal in the championship and the thought of him rampaging through our brittle defence sent shivers down my spine. My worries were almost immediately justified as he nearly latched onto a through ball but Silvestri came to the rescue. That was only a short stay of execution though. The very next attack QPR waltzed through the open spaces that the right back would normally patrol but with Wootton in that position the home side had no problem in firing in a teasing cross deep into the Leeds box where thankfully Taylor diverted it behind for a corner. Now if you were defending a corner against one of the top guns in the championship you'd normally put your best defender on man marking duties wouldn't you? Well not at Leeds their infinite wisdom they allowed Austin to make a simple run across the box and head unchallenged into the net with his first touch of the ball. Bollox and double bollox! What were they thinking about? 1.0 QPR.

From there on in Leeds were doomed Silvestri kept the score respectable with two stunning saves but the sheer ineptness of the Leeds performance just increased the longer the game went on. Wootton just got worse each time he touched the ball but still Byram sat on the bench. Botaka and Erwin did replace Mowatt and Antenucci but apart from a late surge to the bye line by Dallas and a ball across the six yard box Leeds offered nothing in attack. The game ended at 1.0 with boo's spitting out of the fuming away end.

Leeds were simply atrocious from start to finish playing with little apparent direction. They had no width even when Botaka came on he seemed to play as an inside forward. Wood was awful again and as for Wootton I can't find words that would do justice to his performance. If Byram is out of form that much that he couldn't do better than Wootton then he must have had his legs surgically removed. Bridcutt understandably struggled in his first start but what do expect when you bring in a Sunderland reject who's had next to no game time this season? The only bright spots were Charlie Taylor and Silvestri.

The long journey home was painful. With performances like this we are going only one way and it's not up the table. The fans sang Byram's name loudly followed by a heartfelt chorus of "We're f****** shit" much to the amusement of the home fans. These are dark days for Leeds with the chaos off the field dragging the club down to new levels of despair and embarrassment. The team isn't good enough neither is the manager but most of all neither is the mad owner and his entourage in running a football club. God knows were this will all end for our famous old club but I really fear for what will happen before the end of the season.

Just high flying Hull City up next...........what could possibly go wrong?

Can't wait.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

Leeds United 0:1 Rotherham United. 21st November 2015.

As ever after an international break I was chomping at the bit to get back to watching proper football and what more could you wish for than an intriguing Yorkshire derby laced with fascinating sub plots to ease you back into the routine...............and with a 3 pm kick off! Winter was in commando mode though as the bitter biting wind arrived under the camouflage of brilliant sunshine and a spectacular bright blue sky to pick off any piece of exposed skin amongst the 26,000 fans heading to Elland Road. To be blunt it was f****** freezing!

The Happy Chocker and Quiet One were joined in the car by two fans of today's enemy, the mighty Millers from Rotherham, which made for an interesting debate on the managerial qualities of Mr Evans and Redfearn respectively. By the time I had parked the car at the Theatre of Despair it felt like we had been fine tuning the script for a sequel to that iconic Eddie Murphy film, Trading Places. We headed for our different stands with all the usual pre match anticipation burning through our minds, Will Byram start? Will Mowatt score another screamer? Will the managers sit in the correct dug out? Has Cellino been sectioned yet?

Evans replaced his injured captain Bamba with Cooper in a starting eleven that still didn't include Byram. A poignant minutes silence for the victims of the Paris terrorist attacks preceded the start. Redfearn received a warm welcome as he headed for the unfamiliar away dug out and then we were underway. The game took some time to warm up but on 18 minutes Leeds had the ball in the net after good work by Wood presented Dallas the opportunity to side foot a parried save from Camp into the net. Luckily for the Millers Wood was adjudged to be offside. This did spark Leeds into life though and a spell of pressure on the hesitant Millers defence saw chances for Mowatt, twice, and Cook wasted. Camp did deny Mowatt with a decent save though before he attempted another long range stunner but this time the ball ended up nearer the corner flag than the goal.

Rotherham did threaten Silvestri's goal after a foul gave Smallwood a chance from 25 yards out. His free kick rattled the post with Silvestri stranded before the ref made him take it again due to Antenucci's encroachment. What would he have done if the ball had gone in the net? The half time whistle blew with the game at stalemate. 0.0. Not the most uplifting 45 minutes of football I've seen at Elland Road and soon the urinal philosophers were in agreement. "I could have been in Asda with our Lass rather than watching this rubbish" one disgruntled fan thought whilst another moaned "What an earth is Wootton doing on the pitch?" To be fair he wasn't having his best match in a Leeds shirt.

Leeds came out for the 2nd half fired up and within a minute Antenucci got on the end of a slick move but steered his shot wide followed quickly by two corners. This warmed the crowd up and all of a sudden there was a feeling that Leeds were moving up a gear to brush off Redfearn's team and secure a welcome 3 points. Then came a horrible crunching of the gears as Leeds engaged reverse. The ball was lost meekly in midfield and Rotherham attacked down the left flank where Smallwood looked up in amazement to see Newell all alone in the box. His cross was headed home with ease by the Rotherham front man to the delight of the travelling fans. Bellusci had apparently gone walkabout like an aged Australian with Alzheimer's disease. 1.0 Rotherham and suddenly it seemed a long, long way back for Leeds against the division's basement club.

Leeds started to huff and puff in their search for an equaliser. The long ball from the back became the weapon of choice for Steve Evan's men much to the delight his former team who gobbled up the majority of the aimless balls with glee. This had all the hallmarks of another deeply frustrating Leeds performance at Elland Road. Antenucci should have done better on 65 minutes when he snatched at a decent head down from Wood before Evans made a double substitution. Adeyemi on for Murphy and Botaka for Dallas. A glimmer of hope for the Leeds fans was soon extinguished as the illusive Botaka didn't get a touch of the ball for fully ten minutes.

Just when I was thinking things couldn't get any worse they did. Leon Best smashed his elbow into Berardi's face...............the mild mannered Berardi jumped to his feet and pushed the smirking Best to the ground before nearly sending the linesman with him as the official attempted to separate the pair. The inevitable two red cards eventually followed from the referee after an elongated discussion with his colleagues. Leeds now had just over 15 minutes to rescue the game from the ashes of a another woeful performance. They did give it a go as Erwin came on for the unusually quiet Cook. Botaka eventually began to get the ball and gave the Millers plenty of trouble. Wood missed a glorious chance as his header went straight at the goalie from 8 yards but it was too little and too late. Rotherham ran out winners at 1.0 as the frustrated Leeds fans streamed home from yet another home defeat.

Too many long hopeful balls and too few men in white prepared to get on the ball were the building blocks of this defeat. The midfield was bypassed time and again as we tried to get our forwards in around the back of the Rotherham defence.............which seemed a strange tactic for a team with little pace up front. Especially when the Rotherham centre backs looked most vulnerable when Leeds did get the ball on the floor and run at them. Very, very frustrating.

So Redfearn enjoyed his first win of his new assignment back at his spiritual home. Rotherham just about deserved their win because they took one of the few chances that came their way even though it was gift wrapped in a way that the long suffering home fans are all too familiar. It's still one step forward and two back for Leeds. Onwards to QPR next week to do battle with two more members of the burgeoning Ex Leeds managers club in Mr Warnock and Mr Blackwell. That should be interesting?

Can't wait.



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