By Andrew Butterwick
Away days seem to be coming thick and fast of late for the mighty whites. Possessing one of the worst away records in the division didn't inspire lots of confidence amongst the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and yours truly as we traversed the Pennines and headed for the Ribble valley and one of Lancashire's many former cotton towns, Blackburn. Trying to figure out which Leeds team would turn up at Ewood Park whiled away the miles................would it be the "rejuvenated" team that beat the Donkey lashers on Wednesday or would we back on more familiar territory with the team that succumbed to Boro at the Riverside?
Pre match refreshments were taken in the compact Golden Pot pub before braving the biting cold for the walk down to the ground. Warnock had kept the same side that beat Blackpool on Wednesday. The 3,500 travelling fans tried to ignite some atmosphere into the spacious Blackburn stadium but most of the home fans appeared to have come straight from a monastic order who had taken a strict vow of silence. Leeds started brightly picking up from where they left off against the Donkey lashers. Tonge was prominent as Leeds put early pressure on the home team. Ross Mac wriggled free in the box and got his shot away only to be denied by a desperate block by Dann in the Rovers defence. From the corner Lees tested Kean in the home goal. "This was good" I purred as I checked with HC that we were actually away from home and playing well and I wasn't in some hallucinegenic dream. On paper Blackburn look as good as any team in the league but the newly found vibrant approach in the Leeds side put Leeds on the front foot. Morison was playing wide much to the puzzlement of most fans around me................"get in the fucking box" one of the 3,500 managers in the away end screamed as the ex Millwall striker collected a ball wide right and delivered a cross into the box bereft of any away players.
Blackburn's first sniff of a chance fell to ex Tesco bags striker, Rhodes, who drove the ball over the bar into the laughing Leeds fans behind Kenny's goal. After numerous disappointing away games following the mighty whites this season this was shaping up into an oasis of hope. Warnock showed his class at left back as he made a couple of sublime passes that released Leeds attacks. At last we seemed to have found a decent left back. Leeds continued to trouble the Rovers back four without carving out a real golden chance. Varney went close and Morison
had a shot blocked whilst at the other end Kenny saved well from a fierce Kazim-Richards shot. Veteran Danny Murphy used all his years of experience to pull Norris down as he sprinted away from him on the half way earning him a yellow card. The ex scouser had the cheek to argue with the ref over the card for what was a very, very cynical foul. Bastard!
The game continued to be lively as half time approached. The home fans still didn't make any noise. Maybe their trip to the Emirates library last week had had a profound effect on their fans.............but then again they only took 1,400 to North London so it couldn't be that. 0.0 at half time with Leeds having the best of the game. All we needed to do was score. Mmmm!
The mood was positive amongst the Leeds fans as their heroes attacked the goal they were banked behind. The 2nd half exploded into life. Morison controlled the ball and found some space from a flick on from Varney............he looked up and picked out Ross Mac hurtling into the box unmarked..........the ball bobbled horribly on the poor pitch and Ross Mac chose to take a touch before striking the ball into the side netting. 3,500 expletives accompanied 3,500 heads fall into 3,500 pairs of hands. He should have buried it. "We could regret that miss" the guy behind me muttered. He wasn't wrong. Minutes later the Leeds fans were enraged as the linesman gave offside against Morison as he picked up a back header from Dann in the Rovers box. "Don't you know the rules?" or words to that effect were spat in the direction of the incompetent portly linesman.
Pelts then decided he'd allow his ex team mate a chance as Rhodes drove past the Leeds captain and bore down on Kenny's goal but his side footed shot found the side netting much to the relief of the increasingly nervous away hordes. Having failed to keep a clean sheet away from Elland Road this season the generous lack of finishing by the Leeds team was threatening what was a decent performance. Varney mishit a shot when Norris was about to shoot............Ross Mac had two shots blocked then Byram got behind the full back in the box only to get brushed to the ground then Varney scuffed a glorious chance from 10 yards out. He should have scored. All he had to do was hit it cleanly. Bollox. Ten minutes left and still 0.0 but Blackburn were stirring and you could smell the anxiety in the Leeds play as they pushed on for an unlikely winner. "Why doesn't he bring some fresh legs on?" the guy behind me asked. Nobody could give him a sane answer. Why not change things? After all a draw was not exactly what we needed if the forlorn hope of the play offs were to be kept alive. Stubbornly NW refused to change his starting eleven.
A series of corners brought horrific memories of the last 5 minutes at Wolves flooding back. Could Leeds hang on or even snatch a last minute winner. Tonge surged into the Rovers box but his attempt was blocked before one final corner for the home team tested my nerves for the final time. Final score 0.0. Very frustrating. No it was extremely frustrating. A game we could easily have won with steadier finishing from the Leeds attackers. Inevitably comparisons with Becchio's finishing surfaced as the fans left the stadium. The walk back to the car was in eerie silence. The Rovers fans skulked back to their monastery whilst the Leeds fans had the familiar look of away post match trauma.
Tonge was my man of the match closely followed by Warnock. The front three of Varney, Morison and Ross Mac were equally frustrating as they wasted good chances to win the game. Mr Warnock thought the lads had done ever so well as usual and couldn't understand how they hadn't scored a single goal. I
couldn't understand why Mr Warnock hadn't let one of his substitutes do ever so well for the last 15 minutes. You never know we might have won the game?
Millwall up next. Should be interesting to see what reception Morison will get from the travelling fans from Bermondsey? Remarkably we are still only 6 points off the play off spots. Frustratingly we are just not good enough to bridge that gap though. I'd love the team to prove me wrong though.