By Josh Grainger
I can't have been the only Leeds fan out there to let out a sigh and somewhat uncontrollably let my head drop into my hands as I found out Danny Pugh and Michael Brown had made the starting line up for the trip to Charlton.
Granted, Pugh was the only fit left back at the club for the match but even then surely Jason Pearce or this new Zalikuis chap from Hearts couldn't show themselves up as much as the 31 year old had in the past. As for Michael Brown don't even get me started.
McDermott had stressed prior to the game that the pair had been showing good signs in training and had shown real fight to win a place in the side, but even then surely this was a gamble that was destined not to pay off.
Alex Mowatt had picked up a thigh injury before the match, thus leading to the inclusion of Brown, but that is quite a contrast for anyone to get their head around, young, stylish and arguably player of the season so far Alex Mowatt to wrinkly Michael Brown, I can feel a migraine coming on just comparing the two. Still I suppose we had to just put our faith in Brian and hope...
The game itself was delayed half an hour due to heavy rain, it's grim down south isn't it? The pitch was still bogged down in water and within five minutes Michael Brown had already gone sliding into a slow motion tackle, god how I love the Championship.
Despite all this and our inevitable failure, it was McDermott's men who took the lead. Usually when Tom Lees plants the ball up field it's a time to roll your eyes and again let out a sigh, not this time however, loanee Dextor Blackstock flicked on the long ball and scampering on to it was Ross McCormack, we'd scored and maybe, just maybe this day wouldn't end like the majority of Leeds' travels.
Leeds failed to take the game by the neck and build on their lead, however as long as we kept them out till half time I could breathe easily, bollocks! they'd scored, a rather good goal at that and the familiar feeling of disappointment was back amongst the 3,000 or so travelling supporters. Leeds were lucky to go in level at half time if truth be told, the hosts had two near misses in injury time alone, still the half time whistle blew and I sensed a Charlton onslaught coming in the second period.
This didn't happen though, within two minutes of the players re-emergence, Danny Pugh had been tripped inside the area and Leeds had a penalty. McCormack stepped up and smashed the ball down the middle for his second, not only had he scored a penalty, Danny Pugh technically had an assist!?
The general upbeat and optimistic attitude only lasted around twenty minutes however. Remember back to Derby a few weeks ago when for their second goal three Leeds defenders all crowded round the winger on the ball leaving the striker in the box completely unmarked, surely it couldn't happen again could it? Surely they'd learned their lesson. Oh wait, this is Leeds United, of course they hadn't, Lee Peltier and Tom Lees were made look foolish as the Charlton winger wriggled his way through and fed Jonny Jackson who tapped in from a few yards out.
By some sort of miracle however, Leeds managed to dig up the spirit to take the lead for the third time. A free kick hoofed into the area was headed on by the Charlton defender and Ross McCormack smashed past the keeper to put Leeds back ahead and confirm his hatrick (When an individual player scores three times within the same match... just in case like me, you'd forgotten what one was).
As we waited for Charlton's inevitable equaliser it didn't seem to come, surely we weren't going to actually win this!?
McCormack was almost unplayable and there was a certain air of inevitability and dare I say expectancy when he curled in his fourth from a free kick twenty five yards out.
We'd actually won, we'd hit four past a side who hadn't conceded a goal in five games, this was unheard of. Not only this Danny Pugh and even Brown played relatively well, as had the rest of the side. Paddy Kenny made some fine saves to keep us in it, this was a team performance and a bloody good one at that. Who knows, this season might not just be a mid-table slog.