On a freezing afternoon at Elland Road, Leeds came from a goal down to beat Crystal Palace, 2-1.
Having a full time job has its obvious benefits and the job itself has by and large, left me relatively free to continue seeing Leeds United, both home and away. Today however, work finished at 3pm. After grabbing my things and hurtling out of the building towards my taxi, I arrived at the bottom of Lowfields Road around 3.20pm. So basically, I don’t know much about what happened on the pitch apart from having a Jonny Howson goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.
The rest of the first half was largely frustrating. Leeds had the possession but lacked the killer instinct while Palace showed flashes of danger and through some slack marking and sluggishness from Bradley Johnson and Andy Hughes, Palace took the lead. Nathaniel Cline’s run and low cross went right across the six yard box where Neil Danns was on hand to slide the ball home.
From what I’d seen, the goal was harsh on Leeds but not unlike what home fans have been accustomed to; we seem to kick into gear after going a goal down. The goal came just before half time and it really felt like busting my arse to get to ER asap would have been a waste of effort.
But what do I know, eh?
Leeds kept on at Palace, with Julian Speroni being kept on his toes but Leeds lacked the killer touch as Howson and Alex Bruce missed chances to put Leeds ahead. Speroni was keeping Palace in the game but it wasn’t all one-way. Kasper Schmeichel was being kept busy as Danns and Darren Ambrose were denied and the match was evenly poised.
It all changed as Simon Grayson made the key substitutions, Ross McCormack and Lloyd Sam replaced Max Gradel and Bradley Johnson. Johnson’s fruitless afternoon of half-heartedness, sloppy passing and generally being a bit nonchalant did not go down well with the home crowd and his bright idea to walk off the pitch compounded matters as he exited to a chorus of boos. Now I generally don’t agree with booing our own and I’m not sure Johnson wholly deserved it but he’s hardly doing himself any favours. He has made it as clear as possible in such a situation that he doesn’t wish to stay at the club – fair enough but it’s also difficult to ignore the fact he, or maybe his agent, are getting ideas above their station. I’m not sure it’ll be his last game for Leeds but it wouldn’t be a shock if he was demoted to the ressies before his impending departure in January. One hardly thinks there will be a queue of fans wanting to wish him well.
Back to the game and Sam and R-Mac injected the pace and urgency Leeds badly needed. Gradel had been extremely quiet however Sam was intent on getting himself involved, taking on the fullbacks and making an impact. The same can be said of R-Mac, someone I’m hoping to see a lot more of in the near future.
The most impressive performance though, for me, came from Rob Snodgrass. A performance bursting with a never-say-die attitude as time and time again, he set off down the right wing, taking on the defence in a tireless effort to get Leeds back in the game. There was nothing particularly ‘class’ about his game but that he just didn’t stop. Cross after cross was flung in the box and a 70yrd run from defence to opposite corner flag in the 80-something minute optimised his spirit.
As Leeds continued to push, Andy Hughes was sacrificed as Grayson threw on Billy Paynter and the turnaround was just waiting to be completed. Paynter’s strength up front allowed R-Mac, Sam, Snodgrass and Becchio work around him and the breakthrough finally came from Yorkshire’s favourite Argentine who bagged his tenth goal of the season. Neil Kilkenny’s corner was flicked on twice before falling to Becchio who slammed the ball under Speroni as Elland Road erupted in relief. Given how the rest of the match had gone, it wouldn’t have been surprising it Speroni had saved it but not this time.
Two minutes later and the turnaround was complete, a neat passage of play saw Becchio slot the ball past Speroni, despite the Palace keeper getting hand to the low shot.
It could’ve been more as Leeds played out the game and after what seemed like an age of added time, a seventh unbeaten game in a row was complete.
I’ll possibly add more tomorrow but right now I have a migraine so I’ll leave my riveting thoughts on G-Mac, O’Brien and how much we need to sign up Becchio. I’ll leave you with today’s best chants:
“Oh the weather outside is frightful, but his goals are so delightful! Everybody wants to know… Becchio! Becchio! Becchio!”
“He saves to the left, he saves to the riiiiiight! Kasper Schmeichel, makes his dad look shite!”
“You can shove your Bradley Johnson up your arse..!”