Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Leeds United 3 - 0 Southampton

After the last two 'performances'....And the fact that it was a Tuesday night, I wasn't expecting much to come of this Capital One Cup, Fourth Round tie against Southampton.

On the way to Elland Road, I was arguing with myself thinking, a win might do us the world of good, get some confidence back in the side but then again, it's an extra game to play and we really should be concentrating on the league....But, if we do go through, it's more money in our pockets....Well, not in MY pocket, cos I'll be the one forking out for another ticket, anyway, by the time I'd gotten into the ground, I'd stopped thinking about it and decided to take the 'whatever will be, will be' attitude.

Both sides had made changes to the starting 11, Jamie Ashdown and Luke Varney started in place of Paddy Kenny and Luciano Becchio.

We began with a lot more pace than we had done in previous games, we were passing the ball around well against Nigel Adkins' side. Sam Bryram and Aiden White both had crosses cleared away.

On the 14th minute came what is being dubbed as 'miss of the century' by Luke Varney.
Varney found himself with a perfect opportunity, he was looking at a completely open net when the ball fell to him, he went to hit it, from one yard out and missed was more difficult to miss!! We didn't know whether to laugh or cry.

Diouf had a chance a minute later but that just missed, wide right, in less spectacular fashion it has to be said ha ha.

In the 10 minutes that followed, we were all over them, plenty of crosses in to the box, lots of opportunities but sadly, no goals scored.

Luke Varney had two more chances to open the scoring. On the 26th minute he took a shot that missed right of the goalmouth. On the 28th minute, he saw the chance to put the ball over the keeper who was on the edge of the box and it looked for all the world it was in, but it bounced off the post.

This sparked off chants such as 'If Varney scores, were on the pitch' and 'Who needs Van Persie, we've got Luke Varney'.

A goal for us was coming, Rodolph Austin was the next to try his luck on the 32nd minute when Sam Byram sent a cross over, but his header was left of the goal.

Finally though, Michael Tonge scored on the 34th minute from the edge of the box to put us in the lead and a very well deserved lead at that.

That was the most significant thing to happen before the ref blew his whistle for half time.

Luckily the break hadn't stopped the way we were playing before the half ended and on the 53rd minute, Michael Tonge had a chance from outside the box, but it went just wide of the target.

Two minutes later and Danny Butterfield tried to cross the ball but Tom Lees cleared it from any danger.

Kelvin Davis saved a shot from Luke Varney on the 63rd minute.

Emmanuel Myakka missed just left of the goal after attacking the Leeds back line on the 70th minute.

We definitely still had a firm grip of the game, though Southampton were showing signs of getting back into it as the game began to draw to a close but El-Hadji Diouf made sure it was well out of reach for them on the 85th minute after Rodolph Austin shot on goal, Davis originally stopped it from going in, but Diouf was there to make sure it went in.

Three minutes later, Richard Chaplow had a chance for Southampton but Ashdown saved.

Danny Pugh came on in place of Lee Peltier and Luke Varney made way for Luciano Becchio as Neil Warnock looked to change the side in the closing minutes.

Luke Shaw gave away penalty in the first minute of added time when he brought down Tonge in the area and Becchio was there to step up and smashed it past Davis to make the score 3 - 0.

Warnock made another change and brought on Andy Gray for El-Hadji Diouf which was pretty much the last thing to happen before the whistle blew for full time.

A very odd, but lovely feeling to walk away from Elland Road with a smile on a Tuesday night!!

I thought Diouf played a lot better than he did the past couple of games, held the ball up well towards the end of the match, Brown & Tonge were also much, much better.

Varney DID offer something to the side going forwards, he had the pace and quite often exploited the space he was given by the Southampton defenders but he didn't put away, the chances he had, and he had a lot of them. My thoughts when it was still 1 - 0, was that his missed chances might come back and bite us in the arse, but luckily for us (and him) they didn't!!

Ashdown wasn't given a lot to do by the young Southampton side but he managed to keep a clean sheet all the same and that in itself is a big positive.

I would just like to say though, we played so much better last night, because we weren't lobbing the long ball from the back & expecting Luciano to score from it. It wouldn't matter who was playing upfront for us if we carried on hoofing it like we were the other day because our tactics were negative and that showed by how poorly we played.

The best chant of the night came when we were all looking at the big screen for a replay of the chance Varney missed, when it was rudely interrupted by an announcement about someone's Ford Fiesta, telling them to contact their nearest steward, we were all booing and soon the air filled with 'You can stick your Ford Fiesta up your arse' ha ha!!

Hope we can carry the confidence of the game into the next match now, away to Brighton on Friday night :o)

MOT xx <3 xx

Monday, 29 October 2012

Leeds United 1 - 1 Birmingham City

As we walked down to Elland Road the wind was freezing, there had been snow in parts of the UK over the night and widespread ice, most of Leeds had dodged a covering though.
We were full of hope that the match wouldn't be anywhere near as bad as Tuesday night's game had been, there was a feeling in the pit of my stomach, however, that it might be.

As soon as I got into the ground though, the hope returned, the saying 'We're Leeds Aren't We' kept going round in my head as I watched the squad train. 

My hope was boosted when I saw the teamsheet and Austin was back, along with Lee Peltier and Michael Tonge.

As the match kicked off, Lee Peltier gave away a free kick & the visitors were in a good scoring position. 
Steven Caldwell shot from outside the penalty area but it sailed over the bar without any real worry.

Neither side looked like they were comfortable in the opening minutes, it was pretty tit for tat but Birmingham were making the most of the space they were getting from gaps at the back.
Nathan Redmond missed just right of the target after shooting from just outside the box on the 6th minute.

Our first chance came on the 13th minute when Luciano Becchio tested City keeper Butland but he comfortably saved.

This sparked a bit of life into our side and a minute later Tom Lees sent a ball into the box, Curtis Davies soon cleared any danger.

Butland found himself with a lot to do when one of his own defenders headed a ball to him at very close range, the original ball had been put into the box from Sam Byram.

Lee Peltier blocked a long distance shot from Hayden Mullins on the 18th minute.

A bit of a lull (to say the least) over the next 10 minutes, the next chance came from Rodolph Austin when he retrieved a good ball from Danny Pugh & found himself in space 25 yards out. Butland just got to it however & managed to save it from going in, with his feet.

The corner that followed, taken by Tonge, was punched away by the keeper and Danny Pugh took the throw in.

Nathan Redmond saw an opportunity on goal as he crossed into the box, but Paddy Kenny came and caught the ball before it could go any further on the 36th minute.

44 minutes in and Sam Bryam shot from 20 yards out but it just missed to the right of the target and Butland took the subsequent goal kick.

The ref brought an end to the first half. Luckily there was a bit more life in the game than there had been 4 days ago....A bit....

A quieter start to the second half as a whole but we were playing a lot better, we looked sharper and more up for it than we did in the first half.

On the 53nd minute a corner from Tonge came into the box and was cleared by Leroy Lita.
Another corner, this time by El-Hadji Diouf found the head of Jason Pearce, but it went wide and Butland took the goal kick.

David Murphy found play open up for him, enough to take a shot from 35 yards out. He missed to the right of the goal mouth.

More pressure from City as Morrison hit a ball just over the bar. 

Both sides had a lot of chances in the second half, but neither had the edge, that is until, the 75th minute when play opened up for Leroy Lita to score a screamer from 20 yards out.
The assist came from David Murphy who had passed the ball to Lita in his own half.
Poor defending, great goal.

Warnock decided it was time to shake the team up a bit on the 82nd minute, bringing on Aiden White for Tom Lees and, making his debut, Ryan Hall for David Norris.

Time was ticking on and more poor defending meant we were giving them more space than they should have had in the final quarter of the pitch. 
Paddy Kenny punched a ball away from a corner taken by Wade Elliott.

We woke up though for the last 5 minutes of normal time, Steven Caldwell brought down Becchio  25 yards out. Michael Tonge found his free kick blocked by Paul Robinson.

A minute later, Rodolph Austin had a go from 20 yards out but it was over the bar.

The closing minutes were all Birmingham and most of us had already come to terms with our first defeat in eight, but, after Tuesday night, I think we all knew it was coming.

The referee blew for full time.

What can I say that I haven't already....

Two words....Long....Ball. It is doing my head in!! 

I fully understand some of the criticism that Becchio is getting at the moment, as he hasn't been at the races for a couple of games, but just what is he supposed to do when he isn't getting the service he needs and everyone jumps on his back for it!! 

Regarding the long ball, Luciano jumps up to flick it on when it comes over, succeeds ...But he is the last man, there is no-one in front of him, so it usually ends up in the hands of the opposition keeper. Clearly hoofball ISN'T WORKING!!!!

In my opinion, you can't play Becchio and Diouf upfront together, Diouf isn't a striker and I think it slows play down, him being there. Either play Luciano up front on his own or bring someone else in, a 'Beckford type player' that we know he can play with.
I personally can't wait for Ross back so we can have the pair of them up front together again!! 

Diouf was average at best on Saturday too, he got in some great places but didn't pass the ball enough meaning possession and momentum was taken away.

Looking at how we conceded the goal, Pearce, Pugh and Peltier were too slow to deal with Birmingham's pacey attack, they were caught in no man's land and Lita knew that, we gave him all the space and time he needed to put the ball past Kenny in spectacular fashion.

I've heard people calling for Warnock's head....Pep Guardiola couldn't do a better job at the moment with the side, resources & options we have!!!! 
I mean, we all knew it wouldn't be pretty football under him didn't we.

Ryan Hall had some good pace when he came on but I didn't see enough of him to make a judgement, I hope he gets started tomorrow. I'd like to see more of him.

Capital One Cup action against Southampton tomorrow night anyway. Warnock has said he doesn't intend to field a 'weakened side'. I just want a major improvement for Brighton on Friday night!! 

It's hard being Leeds sometimes, but, I wouldn't swap it for the world :o)

MOT xx <3 xx

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Leeds United 1 - 1 Charlton Athletic

After the drama of Friday night, I was WELL up for this match. I don't know why because it was a Tuesday night and I really should have known better, but I couldn't concentrate all day & so wanted to get home so I could turn into my alter-ego....A 'vile animal' ;o)

Warnock made four changes to the side that played against Sheffield Wednesday, bringing in, Drury, Norris, Green and Varney.
As soon as I saw Varney on that team sheet, I shit you not, I was pretty speechless....He's not good enough to come on as a sub, let alone start!! AND!! He refused to come over on Friday night and clap our support (I clearly don't hold grudges....) That horrible Tuesday night feeling reared its ugly head but I tried to suppress it and get ready to blast out Marching On Together as the boys came onto the pitch.

As I looked around just before kick off, the ground was SO empty....Marching On Together was only sang by me and about 3 others where I was, the Kop was strangely quiet too, it felt quite odd.

Right from kick off, Charlton were on us and we conceded a corner, Jackson took it but Paddy Kenny saved.

Another couple of chances for Charlton a couple of minutes later but luckily Kenny was alert....We were not playing well at all.

On the pitch, not a lot was happening, honestly, if you'd have gone for a quick pint after that last chance and come back on the 11th minute you'd probably think you were missing a cracker as that is when our first chance came to open the scoring.
Jason Pearce got his head onto Diouf's in swinging corner but sadly, it went just over the crossbar.

The reality of it was though, that if you had've gone for a pint....It would have probably been more fun than what we were all sat watching, the songs we were singing never got going and neither did either side. 

It did liven up for just a few minutes though as the linesman's flag broke much to everyone's amusement. It took him and the referee a good two minutes to sort out and they were greeted with the Kop's rendition of 'we only get shit flags' - easily the funniest thing of the whole game.

On the 27th minute Harmer made a more than comfortable save when Drury sent a cross into the box, it never really threatened.

Luciano Becchio was making a run down the touchline but didn't manage to keep the ball in play, the linesman (who had sorted his flag out) waived his flag and Becchio kicked the ball away into the stands. He received a yellow card.

31st minute and play opens up, Green has the ball on the edge of the penalty area, we all stand thinking....hoping, this is it....Its in!! Green, for some massively unknown reason decides to pass it out wide and we lose the ball....I think I must have said WHYYYYY!!!! For about 5 minutes after it actually happened.

Finally though 36 minutes in, David Norris scores in the bottom right hand corner after receiving the ball from Luciano Becchio, turning and shooting. Well worked goal and we all really really hoped it would liven this terrible match up.

An almost immediate retaliation though from Charlton as Jonnie Jackson shot from outside the penalty area that just went wide of the goalmouth. Why do we always let teams pressure us when we've just scored?!

Another shot, this time from ex Leeds man, Rob Hulse goes begging for Charlton on the 39th minute, it was from quite far out, but it didn't miss by a mile.

Nothing of mega interest happened after that sadly and the ref ended the half, this really was one of the dullest games I had attended in a long time.

Just as the first half had started for Charlton, the second started with a corner for us, El-Hadji Diouf made his way over to the North-West Corner to take it, he sent the ball into the box and Tom Lees got his head on it but it missed just left of the goal.

Charlton were on the attack and Dorian Dervite scored thanks to some seriously poor defending on our part.

You'd think this might kick us both up the arse to go on and win the game right!? Wrong, it was still flat and either side were yet to actually get a hold of it.

On the 55th minute, Sam Byram crossed the ball in but it was cleared away by Leon Cort. Bryam was involved in another chance not two minutes later when he headed just wide of the goal.

For some reason we just couldn't close Charlton down properly and they really should have gone into the lead when a shot from close range by Kerkar went wide.

Warnock decided it was the right time for a couple of substitutions on the 65th minute and Tonge came on for Luke Varney much to a lot of our delight. Green was also taken off and replaced by White.

The next real chance we had was on the 66th minute when Jason Pearce got on the end of Diouf's corner but it was cleared by Cort.

It looked for all the world like this wasn't going to be our night, we weren't taking the chanced we had.

Andy Gray came on in the 77th minute in place of Luciano Becchio.

The game became interesting very late on, just before the end of normal time, Sam Byram was on the attack, he was then brought down by Jonnie Jackson who received a yellow card and we had a free kick, Kenny crossed the ball in but it was saved by Hamer.

Bradley Wright-Phillips had a volleyed shot in the 90th minute that was saved by Kenny. 

Salem Kerkar just missed left of the goal with his last chance of the game before he was replaced with Danny Hollands.

Paddy Kenny literally saved us from losing when he pulled off an amazing stop at full stretch to tip a shot from Wright-Phillips over the bar. The corner came in but nothing came of it and the referee blew for full time.

We left the ground deflated and frustrated, it really was a poor game. 

More than anything I think I was annoyed because Charlton were more than beatable. We might live to regret dropping points like that come the end of the season.

A lot of people blamed the front line, Becchio, Diouf, but in reality, they play SO much better when we're not hoofing it up the pitch and expecting them to get on the end of it!! We can't expect miracles!! When we play on the floor we really are a much better side, there is a time and a place for hoofball and that isn't the full 90. Don't get me wrong Becchio was poor, he could have done so much better and the yellow he received was stupid, but we know how to play to make him score so why all of a sudden switch tactics to HOOF....baaaalll....UGH!! Frustrating.

Which brings me nicely on to, tactics....They are so negative at the moment!! I can understand Friday's but tonight's.....We were at home and they were SO average it's not even funny. I wonder why Warnock didn't chose to bring Hall on, if he is as pacy as people say, why not bring him on and utilise the wings?!
Sam Byram is no right back either, I felt a bit sorry for him because he played to the best he could where he was.

Defending was terrible, where the hell were we when their goal went in exactly?! We look so poor at the back sometimes!! 

Kenny was one of the only ones to come out of this game with any credibility, the last save of the game that he made really was something else, we were so lucky not to lose.

All in all, we were very lucky to gain a point from the match and we are going to step it up so much on Saturday against Birmingham, otherwise we're going to find ourselves 2/3 goals down.

I don't think it helped that there was only 17 thousand inside Elland Road and the atmosphere was really terrible, I think we managed about 4 songs all game. In a strange way, I think that put me in a bigger mood. I mean I can't sing on my own (I did try ha ha) and if you've lost or it was crap you think, 'well at least we sang the whole way through' but it was so quiet it was awful!!!!

BUT!! Saturday is another day so heads up, lets get the famous atmosphere back at Elland Road and hopefully 3 points :o)

MOT xx <3 xx

Monday, 22 October 2012

Sheffield Wednesday 1 - 1 Leeds United

Its hard to think now, with all the controversy surrounding us, that a match was actually played on Friday!!

A couple of pints before boarding the coach as we left work early to make sure we were able to be with the other 5,000+ fans that were making the short journey to Sheffield for the game.

We went the long way round as the M1 was backed up. When we arrived at the rendezvous point, the police picked us up, telling us we were parking in an industrial estate rather than dropping us off at the ground....Oh wonderful.

After a nice 10 minute walk we arrived at Hillsborough and made our way to our seats.

Though Austin was a doubt after returning from International duty with a slight ankle injury, Warnock named an unchanged side from the squad that played Barnsley just before the International Break.

Wednesday started the game the sharper of the two sides and had the most possession.

On the 4th minute, there were calls from Wednesday that Austin had handled the ball in the area but to no avail.

Micheal Brown took a free kick a minute later but Kirkland caught it, it never really troubled him.

8 minutes in and Peltier sent a cross into the box but it was wasted and went out of play, Kirkland took the goal kick.

Bothroyd struck a powerful shot on the 9th minute that Paddy Kenny spilled, it bounced back off the crossbar and Kenny just got to it in time before it found its way into the net.

We were soaking up a lot of pressure, Sam Byram gave the home side a free kick when he caught Antonio from 30 yards. Antonio almost opened the scoring when the subsequent free kick came over from Bothroyd, Antonio fired a header but it just cleared the bar.

Technically by now, we should have been 2 - 0 down!! We were definitley on the back foot.

On the 16th minute we were awarded a corner which Diouf took but it was poor and nothing came of it.

Our first real chance at scoring though, came on the 19th/20th minute when Gardener fouled El-Hadji Diouf from 25 yards out and Michael Tonge struck a thundering shot into the area, Kirkland got to it though and pushed it away.
Rodolph Austin saw his shot blocked just after and the ball went out for a corner.
The corner was once again poor and we lost possession.

A very contreversial decision from the referee came on the 24th minute when Sheffield Wednesday sent a corner into the box. The corner was sent over and it looked for all the world that the ref would give a penalty against us as Luciano Becchio dived to clear the ball....With his hand....However, it was not given, much to the dismay of the home fans.

We were having a good spell of possession but not really putting any pressure on, annoyingly, the ball seemed to get suck in midfield and end up with Wednesday pushing us back.

On the 31st minute we were awarded a corner, Diouf took, but again, it wasn't good enough.

Two minutes later Becchio got his head on Tonge's cross into the area but his attempt was blocked. Byram was next to cross in, but it was too hard and the ball went out of play.

On the 40th minute Diouf was having a bit of an argument with Semodo, and the ref, Ilderton was left with little choice but to try and calm the pair down.

The opening goal came 3 minutes later when we were caught out by another long throw. Antonio's throw was perfect for waiting Jay Bothroyd and our defence did very little to challenge his header. Paddy Kenny was unable to save and the home side were in the lead.
The Wendies got a bit giddy following the goal, and a smoke bomb made its way onto the pitch from the main stand that was (eventually) dealt with by the stewards.

Just before half time, Brown took a free kick & Diouf attempted to nod it past the keeper, however, the effort was tame and Kirkland had it more than covered.

Llera, who had already gotten away with an earlier challenge where he looked to hit Brown in the face, got away with yet another challenge, this time, he raised his arm on Becchio but the ref didn't spot it and blew for half time.

Neil Warnock made a change to the squad and David Norris replaced Rodolph Austin.

Sheffield Wednesday were on the attack early on but Peltier saw off the danger from Bothroyd.

Tonge was really hunting a goal in this game and it almost came off for him on the 53rd minute but it cleared the bar.

For the opening 10 minutes of the first half we'd been fast and powerful but the flow of the game was ever changing, you couldn't call it.

We had a shout for a handball when Llera cleared the ball and it came off of Buxton's arm, but, in fairness, if they'd have given that and not given the Becchio one earlier in the game....There probably would have been hell on!!

Lee Peltier looked to have taken a knock and left the field on the 68th minute. He was replaced by Luke Varney.

On the 76th minute of play Aidy White passed the ball to a waiting Micheal Tonge who smashed the ball past Kirkland from 25 yards out, another superb strike from Tonge, who is making quite a habit of scoring those types of goals!! (The trouble/aftermath of the goal will be below the match report).

We looked to have unsettled the home side and a few minutes later Diouf sent a ball into the box for Becchio but it was just over his head.

Two minutes before time, as both teams were seeking the winner, Becchio attempted to clear a ball in the area but it is a little too close for comfort and Kenny got a touch to it. It was going to be a nervous few minutes!!

5 minutes of added time was to be played.

Both sides had chances to win in added time, Diouf had a free kick but it was headed away from danger by Gardner and in the last minute of play, Bothroyd had two shots after another one of Antonio's long throws.

The honours end even however, as the referee brings a close to the game.

In my honest opinion, I think we were too cautious in places in this game. We are too stop start and don't play the ball on the floor enough.
Too often we try and get the ball from the back straight to the forwards, and too often it's wasted possession because Diouf and Becchio can't do anything with the balls they are receiving. When we began to use White and Byram's pace in the second half, and we started to play the ball on the floor, we became hard to deal with and THAT is what we need to be more often.
When we have the ball and we are attacking, sometimes we stop with the to take a look around, we become too predictable and usually lose possession. Looking around is a good thing to do, don't get me wrong, but stopping the whole attack altogether to take a look around is just silly.

There were a lot of players that weren't at the races today too and I think I'd give Michael Tonge my man of the match as he was always looking for a goal. He did eventually get one, and what a goal it was!!

Now, there is obviously something I haven't spoke about yet, and what I want everyone to know before reading on, is that I do not condone the actions of Aaron Cawley, nor does any other Leeds United fan I know/speak to. Since I began to write this, he has been given a 4 month jail term, a ban from all football matches for 5yrs and he has been banned from Elland Road for life.

Here is my HONEST view of what happened:

I think it was about 10, maybe 15 minutes into the first half, we heard the Sheffield Wednesday fans start a chant mocking the two Leeds United fans that were murdered 12 years ago in Istanbul. These chants continued to get louder, until all of us could hear what they were singing....

The Leeds United fans reacted with just boo's and chants of 'scum, scum, scum' to start with and once they saw it pissed us off, they continued. More than once I saw a few of their fans making stabbing gestures towards us. Our fans lost their heads and began to throw bottles and rip up chairs. Both sets of fans surged towards each other. The stewards were struggling to cope, but from what I saw, they were pushing the culprits back into the crowd rather than throwing them out. I have since been told this was probably to stop fights spilling out onto the streets....But there should really have been police outside to make sure they all left the area. Anyway, after the Riot Police formed their lines to stop the fans trying to get to each other and the atmosphere had cooled a bit, we scored, Fuelling the rivalry once more, a mini pitch invasion ensued, and Aaron Cawley pushed Wednesday keeper Kirkland in the face. Obviously this was too far and he deserves all he gets, but after all the trouble, how we're that amount of people able to get past the stewards and onto the pitch?!

When the match ended, I think we all expected to be kept in to clear the crowd, however we were let straight out and had the long walk back to the coaches. The riot police outside did their jobs, keeping both sets of fans away from each other but they did this by physically pushing myself and others when we were trying to make our way back to our coaches.

All in all both sets of fans were in the wrong, but the media and press have made it sound like it was all unprovoked and that we are scum of the earth.

Anyway!!!! Now that is out of the way, we have another match tomorrow, this time at home to Charlton :o)

MOT xx <3 xx

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Is the grass always greener?!

Hearing that Liverpool are considering redeveloping Anfield in favour of a move to a brand new stadium in Stanley Park really made me think back to a time when that, was almost us!!

11 years ago seems like the ancient past now, we were in the ‘Barclaycard Premiership’, David O’Leary was manager (until the end of the season, anyway), Peter Ridsdale, the Chairman and our average attendance was 39,460. Life was very different.
In September 2001 Peter Ridsdale confirmed that due to a majority vote, by the Leeds United fans, we would be leaving Elland Road for a new 50,000 seater stadium in Skelton, just off the A1(M).
From the 28,250 forms that were sent out to Season Ticket Holders, 18,577 were received back, 16,276 (87.6%) were FOR the new stadium to be built.
The other option was to redevelop Elland Road.

Ridsdale was hoping that from this, we would become a force not only in English football but also in Europe and become one of the greatest football teams in the world. The new stadium would attract big sponsors, big players and it sounded, for us, like the dream ticket we’d always wanted.
Should all have gone to plan, the ground would have been opened in 2004.
Let’s skip forward shall we, to season 2003/4, we were in around £100m worth of debt. Manger Peter Reid was sacked in November and succeeded by Eddie Gray, who was appointed as temporary manager.
We were relegated to The Championship after a 4 – 1 loss to Bolton and we seemed to be in a LOT of trouble.

Going back to 2001/2 now though, the plans for the new ground of course fell through in 2002. The plan was, that a sponsor would pay the majority of money for the £50m stadium to be built and would therefore have the naming rights, but that was the problem, there were no sponsors willing to pump that kind of money into our club. It also emerged that for the six months ending in December 2001, we were making an operating loss, before player trading of around £2.4m, bearing in mind we had made £6.2m profit the same period just a year before.

Now I was 11 when all this was going on so too young to have a proper input in whether I wanted to stay at Elland Road or not, but now, I am VERY sentimental and would probably cry bucketsif we were to ever leave it!!
I ama sucker for grounds with character, grounds that you never get bored of visiting, for me, ours is one of those, so is Anfield.

You can understand the need for some teams to move, some clubs grounds are simply too old now and as the game modernises, the facilities have to too. Some don't meet health and safety regulations anymore, so for the money they would spend bringing it up to scratch they could build a new one and hopefully start building a new future to better the club as a whole. Some clubs outgrow their stadium and are left with very little choice but to leave, like Arsenal when they left Highbury, they were close to capacity every home game and as it was surrounded by residential properties, it would have been close to impossible to redevelop, their only other option was to build a new state of the art stadium to replace Highbury.

You can understand the need for some teams to move, some grounds are simply too old now and as the game modernises, the facilities have to too. Some don't meet health & safety regulations any more so for the money & time they would spend bringing it up to scratch, they could build a new one and could plan a new future to better the club as a whole.

In the short term, redeveloping a stadium doesn't seem like the best idea, it is very costly and extremely disruptive but on the flip side you can stay at the place you and your team have called home for many years, a place filled with memories and steeped in history, but the advantages to a shiny new stadium are there too, especially for the money men.
Imagine being Mr Chairman/Ms Chairwoman, entertaining your vast circle of wealthy friends, attracting potential investors, players, sponsors and the like!!

My real problem though with a lot of new stadia these days, is that, they all look exactly the same, St Marys, The Keepmoat, The Walkers, The Madjeski, Cardiff City Stadium, Pride Park to name but a few they are all what I call 'Flat Pack' or 'Ikea' Stadiums....Soulless bowls, I'm no stadium designer and I know they are built like that to keep costings down but, surely, SURELY they must be some way to make these look better than plastic fruit bowls....

MK Dons moved from their old ground The National Hockey Stadium which hadcapacity for 4,000 all seated (9,000 with extra stands added by MK Dons). They left in 2007 and made Stadium MK their new home. This HAD to be done for the future of their club. Stadium MK is an 'Ikea Stadium' with a difference, the difference being, they not only built the ground for their needs at that time but for the future too.
Currently their capacity of the ground is 22,000 but this can be increased, if needs be, to 45,000 with addition of a third tier!!

Another team that built for the future more recently was Brighton & Hove Albion. If you were one of the 'lucky' ones to ever visit The Withdean....You will know exactly why it was keyto Brighton's future that they had a new ground built as soon as they possibly could. The Withdean was basically an athletics stadium with a football pitch placed in the middle....You were lucky if you could see any of the match from the 'away stand' as it was so far away!! Most of the seating was temporary and there was no cover so you had to hope it was going to be a nice day!!
The Falmers (AKA: The American Express Community Stadium) was opened in July last year and currently holds 27,350. Like MK Dons the stadium was built in such a way that if needs be, they could add more seats with little disruption.
Earlierthis year, they had permission granted from Brighton and Hove City Council to increase the capacity by 8,000 seats as well as additional corporate boxes, new television facilities and a luxury suite. They are doing this in stages, and by the start of the 2013/14 season the ground will hold 30,250 supporters.
Pretty staggering, and really well thought out. The Falmers IS a new stadium I look forward to visiting, it does have character and I like the way it is built, very modern, very nice.

The grounds with character I was talking about, are the ones that have something about them, the ones that clubs have managed to redevelop and not kill any of the atmosphere.
Some of my favourites include, Elland Road (obviously ha ha), Anfield, Goodison Park, Upton Park, Villa Park The City Ground and Stamford Bridge.

I for one, am really glad we stayed at Elland Road and hope we do for many years to come :o)

MOT xx <3 xx

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Leeds United 1 - 0 Barnsley

The past few years haven’t been great when we’ve played Barnsley, home or away.

We played them at Oakwell on New Years Eve last year, early kick off. I was Properly geared up for the
game with it being on NYE, thinking of how nice it would be to go into the New Year having won….It didn’t
quite work like that though and we ended up being turned over 4 – 1. The only goal for us coming from
Becchio on the 90th minute.

We could only hope this match wouldn't be as horrible as previous times had been but in the first couple of
minutes it seemed like it was going down the same old route as David Perkins' attempt just cleared the bar,
this was closely followed by a shot that missed just right of the goal by Jacob Mellis.

We didn't see an awful lot of the ball in the first 20 minutes and quite a lot of fouls were given against us,
I think Deadman was keen on the sound of his own whistle because some of them were questionable to say the least, but, not entirely blaming him, we were playing pretty rubbish.

It took until the 26th minute for us to put some decent pressure on The Tykes and get a proper shot on goal away, El-Hadji Diouf crossing the ball in for a waiting Luciano Becchio who headed it over the crossbar. We began to play football and Rodolph Austin made Ben Alnwick work on the 27th minute after producing a shot on goal and again two minutes later but it just went over the crossbar.

A corner taken by Diouf on the 36th minute was saved by Barnsley keeper Alnwick. A minute later, Craig Davies put his foot through the ball from outside the penalty area which Tom Lees blocked, Marlon Harewood just missed left of the goal seconds later.

On the 41st minute of play, Stephen Foster brought down Lee Peltier in the area with a crunching challenge.
Luciano Becchio stepped up to the mark and sent the keeper the wrong way to chip in his 9th goal in all competitions this season.

Deadman brought the half to an end, we had to improve for the second half. It felt like one mistake and we'd soon find ourselves on the back foot.

Barnsley made a change after the break, bringing on Bobby Hassell for injured Stephen Foster.

The first 5/6 minutes were un-eventful, both teams struggling to get to grips with the game.

Michael Tonge went down on the 53rd minute clutching his shoulder, Neil Warnock made the decision to bring on David Norris in his place as Tonge went off for treatment.

Rodolph Austin attempted to double the lead a minute later when he shot with power from around 25 yards out but it was straight at the keeper and Alnwick had it covered.

David Norris sent the ball over the bar on the 60th minute after play opened up for him to have a shot from
20 yards out. Alnwick took the goal kick and Barnsley began their attack, Tomasz Cywka shooting from a
distance, the shot was blocked however by Norris.

Paddy Kenny was called to make an important save when a corner came in from Jacob Mellis and Harewood
headed goalwards.

Our defensive tactics looked to be weakening and Barnsley were pressuring us with more attempts to even
the odds, another corner came in but this time Becchio was there to clear it away from any potential danger.

Barnsley looked to their bench to change their game and brought on Chris Dagnall for Marlon Harewood on
66 minutes and two minutes later, changed Cywka for Kelvin Etuhu.

Warnock decided to change things too, bringing off Luciano Becchio on the 71st minute for Andy Gray.

The next real chance on goal was from El-Hadji Diouf who sent a corner into the area but Ben Alnwick dealt
with it.

Andy Gray and Diouf were trying to keep hold of the ball as much as possible to retain our lead and make
sure we were never under too much pressure, but almost three minutes into added time a foul by Michael
Brown on Perkins resulted in a free kick for the visitors, taken by Mellis. John Stones heading from inside
the area but Paddy Kenny was there to make sure the ball never crossed the line and made a lovely last
minute save.

Deadman brought the game to a close and we'd not only won, but we'd actually beaten Barnsley AND kept a
clean sheet!!

Now, we really did play badly at points in this game, mainly in midfield. I remember at one point we were
defending so deep it didn't even look like we had a midfield!! It just looked like we had a back line!!
We need to be slowing teams down and trying to regain possession in midfield, when we drop back and
defend deep, we start letting stupid goals in, and if Barnsley would have put the chances they had away,
this would probably be a very different report!!

Deadman made some puzzling decisions, but the biggest decision of the day was the penalty, whether it
should/shouldn't have been given and here is my honest answer, it was JUST outside of the area.
The tackle however was horrible and come on, it's about time we got a bit of luck, eh ;o)

There is no doubting the quality of the way it was scored though as Luciano Becchio put it away in fantastic
style, sending the keeper the wrong way and then just calmly chipping it in....Muy valiante (very brave),
Warnock didn't watch the penalty ha ha and Luciano apparently admitted to Ronnie Jepson that
'the gaffer would have killed him if he'd have missed that' ha ha!!!!

We also kept our first clean sheet since the Wolves game (not including Oxford United in the cup), Paddy
Kenny made some pretty important saves and I think played really well.

International break this week, I think it's come at just the right time really as we were starting to look tired
after a hard few weeks. The Championship is probably the hardest I've seen it in quite some time this
season and the matches keep on coming thick and fast, not to mention cup games too!!
Hope the lads that aren't involved in any internationals have a nice long break, and all the very best of luck
to those that are.

Sheffield Wednesday is the next match, away at Hillsborough next Friday night, apparently we are taking
5000....I can't wait :o)

Sorry for the lack of pictures the sun was making it hard for me to take any as it was right in our eyes!!

MOT xx <3 xx

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Bolton Wanderers 2 - 2 Leeds United

There aren’t many grounds now in this league that I haven’t visited but Bolton was a new one for me, which made it all the more exciting!!
We got onto the M621 and already the traffic was at a standstill, as we sat there, 2 fire engines and an ambulance sped down the hard shoulder, there was a big worry we wouldn’t get to the match in time for kick off, obviously depending on how bad the accident was!! About 15 minutes later we started moving and went past the accident, there was a poor woman standing at the side of her smouldering car, looks like it spontaneously combusted!!
When we left Leeds, the rain had just started falling but as we got further and further down the motorway, it wasn’t just raining, it was absolutely bucketing it down.

When we got to The Reebok there was a really long wait to get the coaches parked up, we must have waited about 20/25 minutes!! Luckily though, there was no lengthy walk involved as the rain was still coming down quite heavily and that wouldn’t have pleased me.

The referee for the night was Phil Dowd….Joy.

In the opening minutes of the game there were two fouls by Michael Brown on two separate Bolton players which resulted in Bolton almost getting an early lead when Matt Mills headed goalwards but Paddy Kenny had it covered.
The minutes that followed were much of the same, Phil Dowd was making the match about him, giving free kicks against us at any possible opportunity, this almost resulted in Neil Warnock being sent to the stands as he made his feelings clear, Dowd went over and exchanged words with Warnock but he was allowed to stay pitchside.

11 minutes into the game and it opened up for Chris Eagles to take a shot on goal from range but it was punched away by Kenny.

Two minutes later however, Bolton were awarded a corner, Eagles swung the ball in and Kevin Davies was in the right place to see that the ball went in to make the score 1 – 0 to the home side. Que embarrassing goal music and dancing….Hashtag tinpot.

Bolton had the bit between their teeth now and 15 minutes in Keith Andrews had a shot on goal, Kenny was there however to make sure the ball was safe and play continued. Not 30 seconds later though Eagles had another shot that just came off the post, he was unlucky not to score.

Bolton were playing very fast football and we were struggling to keep up with the pace of the game, the next 10 minutes were hard fought by both sides with not a lot of chances until Benik Afobe shot just wide left of the target.

28 minutes into the first half and Sam Byram shot from the left hand side but it cleared the posts and went wide of the goalmouth.

Byram had another chance on the 32nd minute too as he shot from 25 yards out but it was blocked by Stephen Warnock.

1 minute before half time though, Byram headed the ball past Bogdan and levelled the score at 1 a piece after a cross from El-Hadji Diouf.

This goal couldn’t have come at a better time for us, it meant we could go into the changing rooms at half time, re-group and hopefully come back onto the pitch a better side!!

4 minutes after half time, Matt Mills brought down Sam Byram in the penalty area and to our shock and surprise, Dowd actually gave the penalty!!
Luciano Becchio picked up the ball and placed it on the spot, Bodgan looked confident but Becchio placed it well in the bottom right of the goal to see us go into the lead for the first time in the match.
The 4000 strong away support was drowning out any singing by the home fans as we had been doing for most of the game as Luciano celebrated right in front of where I was, as you can imagine, I was going pretty mental, man-flu or no man-flu ha ha.

We were playing like a different side, putting pressure on Bolton and marking them all out of the game, but on the 59th minute Jay Spearing found space to shoot from the edge of the penalty area but it was blocked by Jason Pearce. This was closely followed by a shot from Mark Davies from 20 yards out but Paddy Kenny made sure it just went over the crossbar.
Pearce made sure any danger from the corner was dealt with as he cleared the ball from the area.

More pressure from Bolton as El-Hadji Diouf fouled Mark Davies, Chris Eagles took the free kick and Zat Knight headed just over the bar on the 60th minute.

Martin Petrov came on in place of Jay Spearing as Bolton were chasing the game.

Diouf had a chance on the 64th minute when he shot from 25 yards out but Knight blocked it and it went out for a corner also taken by Diouf, the corner came into the box but was swiftly dealt with by Kevin Davies.

A handball by Eagles resulted in a free kick that Rodolph Austin lined up 25 yards out. We all know what Austin is capable of from this range but this time, it went wide and never worried Bogdan.

Another substitute for Bolton on the 71st minute as Afobe was taken off for Marvin Sordell.

A flurry of Bolton corners came on the 76th minute as we tried desperately to defend our lead, the last one resulted in a chance for The Wanderers when Petrov missed left from about 25 yards.

Yet another corner on the 78tg minute was swung in from Martin Petrov and Kevin Davies was there to head in his second of the night to equalise and the goal music bleared out again....

Luciano Becchio made a clearance in the area when Bolton threatened with another corner on the 90th minute.

Both teams had all to play for and an anxious 3 minutes of added time awaited.

They passed without much happening, that was, until, pretty much the last kick of the game when El-Hadji Diouf saw an opportunity on goal arise before him....We could see it, he could see it.... He was going to go for it....He put his foot through the ball from about 18 yards out, it was like slow motion, then.... BOOM, it hit the effing crossbar. Ohhhh my god, my hands were on my head for a good minute after that, what an effort, he was so unlucky that it didn't go in!!!!

Dowd brought an end to the game and a point was claimed by either side.

I said before the start of the game, I'd have taken a point there and then but I somehow felt really frustrated, probably because we were in the lead for a good while before they equalised!!

We really need to work on defending set pieces, we should have learned from the first goal Davies scored but we clearly didn't because the second goal was pretty much exactly the same. It's these silly goals that need to be eradicated. Because of this though, I can never relax, if we were winning 3 - 0 on the 60th minute, I still wouldn't be able to relax, It's going to get to the point where I'm going to need a massage chair on the coach just to chill me the hell out after watching a match!!

There's only one man of the match for me from this game and that is Sam Byram, what a match he had. He was everywhere!! I remember seeing him get clattered but no free kick was given and play had continued and by the time I looked again he was half way down the wing ready to cross the ball into the box!! So impressive.

Completely off the scale rant here and I'm sorry to lower the tone of the report ha ha, but this has to be said. Half way through the second half I came over all queasy, basically someone in front of me had been farting every 5 minutes or so throughout the whole game. Now if you've ever been to Football, you'll know, if someone farts, it's not like a quick fart in the living room, it's like a nuclear fart that will make you violently ill on first sniff. So, like I say, I started to feel a bit sick after a while because someone clearly had a problem. I asked Jamie if it was him and he promptly he denied it was, but I said 'well if it is, I'm telling you now, I will make you drink a whole bottle of fairy liquid....hold on, would that make you fart bubbles....' He just said it defo wasn't him so I carried on my little rant about the smell in the hope someone would think, oh, maybe I'll try and hold onto it instead of making people ill. It wasn't just me that noticed, there were a group of lads behind me too who kept asking 'who'd shit?!' I know trapped wind is no joke but honestly, HONESTLY, it was every 5 minutes. Ugh. I still feel a bit sick now ha ha!!

The Bolton fans weren't the quietest I've ever encountered but they weren't the loudest either, we did find common ground however when we began to sing in memory of Gary Speed and the majority of Bolton fans either joined in or clapped. Gary played for them for 4 years making 121 appearances and scoring 14 goals.

Barnsley at home on Saturday....Not a team I necessarily look forward to playing against, probably because I know so many Barnsley fans who probably wouldn't care if Leeds were the only team they picked up points off of all season ha ha.

MOT xx <3 xx

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Bristol City 2 - 3 Leeds United

It’s typical isn’t it, when you get a cold, it’s always over the weekend!! I was absolutely full of cold and felt terrible on Friday night so tried to get an early night as I knew how early I was going to have to get up on Saturday morning, despite this, come 5am, I was as awake as I possibly could be and besides feeling like crap, I was soooo excited for another long away day.

Usually within about an hour of getting on the coach, if it’s been an early one, everyone has a wee kip, but today the banter was flying and everyone was really chatty and excited, it was one of those journeys where you’d have missed loads if you’d have fallen asleep!!

We stopped off at a pub, but because I felt so terrible, I didn’t know what to have!! I’d had some paracetamol’s earlier on so I didn’t want to drink too much but we were at a pub, it’d be rude not to have at least one drink after coming all this way ;o) I made my choice, I was having a Guinness, I preached to the rest of the coach that it was purely for medicinal purposes as it is full of iron….I don’t know who I was trying to convince, me, or them.

We got to Ashton Gate but there is a 5/10 minute walk involved as the police make us park in an industrial estate so I was thankful it was quite a nice, pleasant, sunny day!!

The seats were un-reserved in the ground and we picked some right at the front of the stand, after almost being taken out by a stray ball, we decided we could probably find a better place so we could see all of the pitch.

Paddy Kenny was back in the starting 11, as was Lee Peltier who had both missed mid-week due to injury.

The first half was very messy, with either side to really get a grip on the game, it took until the 10th minute for us to get a shot in, Aidy White headed the ball, close range but Heaton caught the ball and so began retaliation from Bristol City, Paddy Kenny saving a left footed shot by Ryan Taylor.

6 minutes later Luciano Becchio, on his 200th appearance for Leeds, had his first shot but it was blocked by James Wilson.

There really wasn’t much else in significance, it really was a power struggle all the way through the first half, it was nothing like the game on Tuesday night so far and as the half time whistle blew, both teams left the field of play with no goals to their name.

Though the match had been pretty dull from a spectators point of view we were really getting behind the lads and singing at the top of our voices, our support really is amazing.

After the break it took until the 62nd minute for anything of particular interest to happen, there was a lot of battling from both teams to try and get a foothold in the game but it was us who opened the scoring.
A cross by Sam Byram fell nicely for El Hadji-Diouf and he hit the back of the net from 6 yards out.
Diouf came and celebrated right in front of us and we were going mental.

Bristol City made a change bringing on Sam Baldock fro Jon Stead.

It didn't take long for Bristol City to equalise though, as 8 minutes later it was all square when Albert Adomah headed from close range to put the ball past Paddy Kenny

We suddenly had a game on our hands now as both teams wanted the points.

The Robins had gained a bit of confidence and Ryan Taylor attempted to get a goal but his shot went wide left.

An Aidan White, right footed shot was blocked on the 76th minute but he found it blocked by Richard Foster.

Tom Heaton came to Bristol's rescue when Rodolph Austin had a shot from 35 yards out.

The pressure eventually paid off when Diouf put the ball in the back of the net for the second time!!

Two minutes later and it was celebration time again, this time Michael Tonge fired a shot from 20 yards out, fantastic goal!!

The celebrations were cut short though because, as always we made it hard for ourselves when a cross from Adomah was headed in by Rodolph Austin on the 90th minute.

The 4th official had added 6 minutes, no idea why but it was a nervous 6 minutes all the same.

In the dying seconds ex Leeds player Neil Kilkenny was booked for not going 10 yards away from a set piece.

The whistle blew and a we were a able to breathe again, making sure we were taking 3 points back to Leeds :o)

The majority of the game wasn't brilliant, nor was it entertaining but the second half really got going and it was exciting, for a neutral!!

For me the most frustrating thing is the fact that we just can't keep a clean sheet. We always concede and make it so had for ourselves and one day, it's going to cos us. Lucky for us, that wasn't Sarurday and we are now unbeaten in 3 for the first time since December 2010!!

Man of the match for me, again was El-Hadji Diouf. He took his goals brilliantly and worked hard a game.

Special mention to our number 10, Luciano Becchio who made his 200th appearance for us on Saturday, congratulations Luciano & here's to many more :o)

Another mention to Elokobi who had just signed for Bristol Rovers on loan from Wolves, he sustained a terrible injury in the first half when he dislocated and broke his ankle. Awful injury, hope he has a speedy recovery.

Bolton away tonight!! Lets hope we can carry on our run :o)

MOT xx <3 xx