Saturday, 18 April 2015

Charlton Athletic 2 v Leeds United 1

All that will be remembered about this match in years to come is the result and maybe the fact that we beat a Leeds club in chaos. How much different it might have been.

United arrived on the back of four straight defeats and expectations of a walloping were high. The fact that six of their foreign players went 'injured' yesterday to avoid playing only served to heighten those expectations.

I jokingly said before the match that we always struggle to beat five men but as I said it I thought about the replacements getting a chance and perhaps how they might come out fighting. True to form, Leeds came out like Barcelona and we looked like we were prepared to wait for them to run out of steam before we would make a real effort.

Murphy should have opened the scoring for Leeds when he drifted in at the far post and controlled a well flighted cross but he failed to beat Henderson and blasted over with the goal at his mercy. Leeds continued to dominate possession and they should have finally scored from the spot following a late lunge by Tal Ben Haim. I think it was Billy Sharp who took the penalty and he drove it to Henderson's left. There was nothing wrong with his strike but the determined Irishmen flung himself violently towards the ball and his out-stretched palm made contact with the shot. It didn't look like he could keep it out but somehow there was a enough on it to deflect it onto the post and Morgan Fox was steaming in to hook clear. For five minutes after that it looked like the penalty would galvanise us and we managed to hit their post from a deflected shot. However, Leeds weren't finished and they finally took a deserved lead five minutes from half-time when Steve Morison raced across the box to meet a driven corner and laced a sweeping volley high across Henderson's goal and into the top corner.

The goal seemed to help us because Leeds were nowhere near as good after it and they seemed far more content to defend and increasingly play for time.

After the break we started with Johan Berg Gudmundson restored to right-wing in place of Chris Eagles. Eagles had probably been our most attacking player in the first half but it was all largely solo efforts. JBG immediately brought some balance to our attack and proved to be a real thorn in Leeds' side. If Henderson swayed many potential Player-of-the-Year voters in the opening forty-five, Gudmundson swung the votes back his way after that. 

We were opening Leeds up from the flanks and saw a number of balls in from left and right that only needed a firm touch to have got us back in it. I was thinking about how relatively poor our home form has been once again this season when JBG tore in from the right flank and with Leeds back-pedalling, he picked out Tony Watt's far post advance and floated a delicious ball into his path. It was a carbon copy of Murphy's opportunity but the talismanic Scotsman made no mistake and thundered the volley home. 

With our tails up we went for it and five minutes later after a fine move involving Gudmundson, Igor Vetokele was pulled down at full-stretch by the Leeds keeper and we had penalty. For a moment I thought Watt was going to take it but sense prevailed and Yoni 'I don't miss pens' Buyens fired home in emphatic fashion.

We saw the game out without too much further to worry about but those Leeds fans making their way back to Yorkshire (and those headed for Essex and Surrey) will rue the 15 attempts on target to our 10. As I said at the outset, those figures will be forgotten.

We are up to tenth and a win at Birmingham next week will net me close to £1100 for my Top 12 bet, so this is a game and a result in particular is one that I will remember for a long time.

The visitors gave their side great support (as always) and we had some very dry songs of the moment like "who needs Italians" and "Fuck off to Italy." They were also very vocal about "he played for Leeds and won fuck all" although neither Pete or I could fathom who that might be - Ben Haim maybe?

Finally, I'd like to stick two fingers up to the internet warriors for their illiterate rantings and drivel for some perceived slight I might have against Leeds. Boys, it's simple, I hate the scum that attaches itself to your club. Like the Eegits who put glasses and bottles under the tyres of local cars around the Rose of Denmark last season and who man-handled the pregnant landlady. That's why it was home-fans only this season. 

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