Guest writer Andrew Butterwick takes a look at Leeds United's Championship clash against Ipswich Town.
After battling with the gridlock on the M1 and M62 I arrived at Elland Road just in time for the clash with Mick McCarthy's Tractor Boys. Rolser had listened to the clamour from the fans and media to stick with the 4-4-2 formation that rescued a point against Brentford on Saturday and so Mowatt and Byram warmed the bench allowing Antenucci and Murphy to start the game. There was still no place for Botaka on the bench. Ipswich were fresh from their 5.1 thumping at Reading on Friday a game which their gruff Yorkshire manager had described as bonkers but how would they respond tonight?
21,000 fans had made it to the Theatre of Hope as the game kicked off in late summer sunshine. Leeds started brightly and spent the first 10 minutes camped in the Ipswich half without really threatening Gerken in the visitor's goal. Bamba arrived 2 seconds too late to tackle the speedy Fraser and earned an early yellow card as the diminutive winger was sent sprawling as he pushed the ball past the tall Leeds captain. Cook, who was playing on the left wing, had a typical surging run into box before tumbling to the ground in front of the baying South Stand but referee Mr Adcock waved play on. At times the ball was pinging about like a demented pinball with quality play at an absolute minimum. Antenucci did raise the expectation levels as he drove across the box but his shot was deflected safely into Gerken's arms as the game settled into a scrappy stalemate.
Silvestri had already given his defenders severe indigestion with his dithering in coming for balls and his over enthusiastic throw outs to fellow players who were already marked when in the 30th minute he conspired to produce a masterclass in Rachubkaesque goalkeeping. First a harmless ball into the box should have been claimed by Silvestri but Cooper had to concede a corner as he waited in vain for the frozen Italian to come and catch the ball. Then from the corner he came and flapped at the cross with all the effectiveness of a Penguin trying to fly, allowing the ball to fall nicely at the back post to an Ipswich player who returned the ball back across the goal to Tommy Smith who gleefully headed the ball into the empty net. Stunning! Silvestri was left with has arms stretched out wide in protest at some imaginary culprit who had caused him to act like a Sunday League keeper who was still pissed from the night before. 1.0 Ipswich.
As unlikely as the goal was it destabilised Leeds and inspired the Tractor Boys. Fraser continued to torment Barardi on the left flank as McCarthy's men cruised to half time with their vital one goal lead. I spent the interval trying to understand how just two games ago we were raving about a Leeds performance at Derby that was as far away from what I had witnessed in the first 45 minutes as is possible. Maybe McCarthy's right and all football in the Championship is bonkers?
No substitutions were made at the break. Ipswich were now happy to hold what they had but they were still more positive than a struggling home side. Silvestri was called upon to deal with decent shots from Maitland-Niles, Fraser and McGoldrick whilst he continued to kick and throw the ball out with suicidal intentions. This was becoming the latest in a long line of Tuesday night horror shows at Elland Road. On the hour mark Byram replaced Dallas who had failed to repeat Saturday's form. Cook showed glimpses of his talent with a couple of runs but it wasn't until Mowatt replaced Adeyemi and he moved to a more central position that Leeds started to show some attacking ambition.
With just 10 minutes left Leeds started to build up a small head of steam but it all seemed a bit too little too late. Wood had struggled all night against the Ipswich centre backs and Antenucci had been periphery to most of the action. Then with 6 minutes left a Cook inspired Leeds move sliced the visitor's defence wide open leaving Byram hurtling into the box with just Gerken to beat. Just as he was about to shoot he was felled from behind......PENALTY shouted 20,500 Leeds fans in unison at what was the most stonewall, nailed on, obvious penalty I have ever seen in my long life. Jubilation soon turned to incredulation as the referee was stood pointing the other way awarding a free kick to Ipswich and a yellow card to Byram! WTF. On what planet was the ref on? Even the referee in the 1973 Cup Winners Cup final would have had to have given this one. Unbelievable. The crowd was incensed as memories of a decision by Ray Tinkler came flooding back to my gnarled brain.
The final minutes of the game gave hope of an equaliser against a background of booing and worse towards the ref. He finally blew his whistle to signal an end to Leeds' unbeaten run and a truly horrible game. All the post match talk was about the penalty but that masked a woeful display by Leeds in a match devoid of quality. Berardi struggled all game against Fraser, Silvestri had a mare and only Cook and Cooper can really sleep easy after that performance.
News that Adam Pearson had left the club just added to the huge disappointment as I drove home. Football can be very, very frustrating at times......especially following the mighty whites. MK Dons away anyone?
By Andrew Butterwick
This article is taken from Andrew's very popular blog 'Travels of a Leeds fan' which you can find at leedsfan.blogspot.co.uk
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