By Andrew Butterwick
Revolution was in the air as the Happy Chocker, Quiet One and yours truly gunned the car down the M1 for our tea time kick off with a Wolves team who have serious play off ambitions. The sacking of Thompson for an alleged altercation with Salerno after the Fulham game is the straw that broke the camel's back as far as the vast majority of Leeds fans are concerned. The fact that it also leaves Redfearn's future as secure as an Easter egg at a chocoholic's convention had fuelled an irreversible backlash against Cellino and his irrational ways amongst followers of the once mighty whites. Once again the club is in meltdown so much so that even our favourite scummer Gary Neville is tweeting sympathy for us. So after a journey of depressing debate about Cellino, Red Bull, Redfearn, Antenucci, Morison, Thompson et al we arrived at Molineux with the proverbial dark cloud hanging ominously over our heads. Brilliant.
The pre match show of respect and support for the families and friends of Martyn Matthews, the Wolves fan who died in the Alps plane crash, together with Kevin Loftus and Christopher Speight poignantly put in perspective just what is important in life.
Redfearn had replaced Bellusci with Cooper at the back and Antenucci came in for Morison up front whilst Phillips was handed his debut in place of the suspended Austin in midfield. The midfield five must be the youngest ever for Leeds United I suggested to HC. With Wolves knowing that a victory would sneak them into the last play off spot this was going to be a big test for Redfearn's young side against an in form Wanderers side. The game kicked off with bright Spring sunshine blazing down on the 2,500 away fans in the Steve Bull stand. Wolves flew at Leeds from the start with the lively Dicko spurning two good chances in the first 8 minutes. Things were looking ominous already for Leeds but the one thing that Redfearn has instilled in his charges this season is a grittiness and a doggedness to keep fighting when they are up against it and it was just this spirit that created a chance for Taylor to give Leeds an unexpected lead. Phillips chased a lost cause into near the corner flag and harried the experienced McDonald into a hash of a clearance that rebounded off Stearman neatly into the path of Charlie Taylor who slotted the gift home to the delight of the travelling army. 1.0 Leeds.
The goal riled Wolves and they didn't waste any time in looking for the equaliser as Sako drilled a low shot to test Silvestri in the Leeds goal before Afobe fired another shot inches past the post. Molineux was now rocking as the home fans lifted the decibel levels urging the All Golds on and it wasn't long before the Leeds defence was breached. An intelligent ball over the back of Barardi released Afobe who hurtled into the space and swung a dangerous low ball to the back post where Dicko slotted home from an acute angle. Molineux erupted. 1.1 and definitely game on.
Leeds were on the ropes as Wolves poured forward looking for goals. Henry twice tested Silvestri with difficult shots and with Sako, Dicko and Afobe showing just what damage pace can do to a team I feared the worst for the Leeds youth. Leeds were battling though with bodies thrown in front of shots to keep the baying Wolves at bay. Leeds couldn't get out of their half though as the lone striker Antenucci gave very few options for the Leeds midfield. We needed to get to half time still level to give Redfearn a chance to sort things out...............and we nearly did but not quite! Sako found Dicko in acres of space down the right flank and the Wolves flyer drove into the box and hit a firm drive in off Silvestri's near post. 2.1 Wolves at Half time.
Wolves were the dominant team in the first half as Leeds struggled to cope with the pace of the Wolves front men. The Wolves crowd were loving it creating by far and away the best atmosphere at any ground we've visited this year. What would Redfearn do to change things for the second half? "If they score another quick goal we could be on the end of a real hiding" I mused to HC.
It was Leeds who had the first chance of the 2nd half though as the tireless Mowatt got his shot away after a neat lay off from Phillips. That joy was short lived though as Wolves went straight down the other end to pressurise the over worked Leeds defence...........Batth was left unmarked on the edge of the box and hit a low drive into a melee of players.........the ball rebounded into the 6 yard box where Afobe was first to react and smash the ball into the roof of the net. 3.1 and Leeds looked dead and buried. Thankfully Wolves seemed to drop off and were content to let Leeds try and break them down with the comfort of a two goal cushion. This gave Leeds some much needed possession and a chance to regroup. Mowatt started to be more prominent and on 64 minutes Leeds were thrown an unlikely lifeline when the young Leeds midfielder clipped a lovely ball into the Wolves box where Batth sliced his desperate clearance into his own net. Get innnnnnnnnnnnn! 3.2 and suddenly Leeds were back in the game and "Marching on Together" was ringing round Molineux. Mint.
The goal inspired Leeds to take the game to Wolves for the first time in the match and when Mowatt finished a stirring run with a spectacular shot in the 68th minute the Steve Bull stand erupted in delight as the ball hit the back of the net and Leeds had incredibly drawn level at 3:3. When Afobe hit Wolves third the game seemed over all bar the shouting but the true Yorkshire grit in Redfearn's team had shone through and suddenly we were contemplating and audacious winner!
Wolves came at Leeds again and shots from substitute La Parra sent notice to the away fans that this game wasn't over yet by a long chalk. Billy Sharp replaced Antenucci with just 9 minutes to go with both teams looking for the winner. Mowatt once again ran at the retreating Wolves defence and tried the same curling shot that drew Leeds level but this time he skied high into the stands......if only!
Nerves were now jangling on both sides as Wolves pushed hopefully for the goal that would take them into the play offs. With just three minutes left McDonald clipped a ball into the Leeds box for substitute Edwards to leap high and flick the ball way beyond Silvestri and into the net. Bollox. 4:3 Wolves and the ground was once again bouncing. Leeds dragged their weary bodies back for one last effort to equalise. Murphy snatched at a late chance but it went harmlessly wide. The ref blew his whistle to bring to an end a dramatic game. Final score 4:3 Wolves.
As we streamed away from the ground there was a mixture of disappointment but also some pleasure in the fact that Leeds had dragged themselves back into the game when they looked as if they were going to get a real hiding from the rampant Wolves. Mowatt was the Leeds man of the match with Taylor having another impressive game at left midfield. Phillips gained some good experience from his debut. Antenucci struggled with the lone striker role. Too often in the first half the ball was coming straight back at Leeds. This was a gritty performance for Leeds but Wolves ultimately had the one thing Leeds desperately need and that is pace.
Two defeats over Easter yielding 7 goals is not good reading but at least we are sat safely in mid table oblivion. Cardiff up next at Elland Road fresh from a 3.0 defeat at home. Hopefully we can reurn to winning ways against our Welsh friends?