So the phase two applications need to go in. Looking at the fixtures Scunny and Reading would be new grounds and Burnley is a chance to take my son to an away game. That leaves Norwich, Coventry and Boro. With the visit to the Riverside being picked by Sky I decided to give it a miss.
Come Saturday morning and I was regretting my decision. Since Forest I had only missed the games against Millwall and Leicester and that was because I was out of the country. Not being there on match day was a strange feeling, and I found myself wishing away the hours till kick-off. Anything I tried to do to pass the time, I couldn’t put any real effort into and just spent the day listlessesly sat about the house.
I had a really negative vibe about the game, our recent performances not really inspiring a great deal of confidence. Text correspondence with friends saw all them really confident, and I the lone voice of pessimism. My confidence was really boosted by the Sky Sports Classic shown before the game, Arsenal thrashing us 5-0 in the Premiership relegation season.
So to the game and Leeds started very competently. We won and kept possession well with Sanchez Watt in particular looking very lively. Jonny Howson looked as if he had been given a bit of freedom, knowing Amdy Faye was sat behind him sweeping up. Boro looked nervous and it was not much of a surprise when Leeds took the lead. Davide Somma reacted well to a slightly deflected cross to swivel and volley home from the right hand side of the box.
However this Leeds team don’t seem able to dominate for an entire half, never mind a full game. In the Sky game at Forest earlier in the season we didn’t start playing until we went a goal down. Here we completely stopped playing when we went a goal up. To be fair our whole left side was changed within two minutes midway through the half as McCartney went off ill, and Watt limped off, the victim of a poor challenge.
Chris Foy, a Premier League official, let a lot of bad tackles go on the night. In his defence he was playing advantage, one of which led to our first goal, but there was surely several cases where punishment could have been given retrospectivley.
Back to the game and a limp Leeds managed to hang on till half time, John Barnes size alike keeper Jason Brown barely troubled by a woeful Boro side. The home side had started to build some “pressure” but the defence whilst not looking comfortable were doing enough to prevent any real threat to the lead.
The second half started with Leeds again looking a little flat, and Boro looking a little more threatening. Despite possession Boro were struggling to get any width. When they did eventually get a decent cross in we didn’t deal with it and Kris Boyd forced the ball in for the equaliser.
Leeds suddenly woke up and started going at it again. Within minutes we were back in front, and it was a great goal. A move down the right broke down but Becchio did what we know he can do by closing down the defence and making it difficult to clear. His charge down of a clearance saw Leeds stay on the attack. He then did something we didn’t know he could, hitting a sweet volley which flew past the keeper with the aid of a minor deflection off Howson back.
Minutes later he hit an even sweeter effort from the edge of the box which crashed back off the angle of post and bar. The third would have killed the game, but Leeds already had more than enough. Middlesbrough barely raised an attack in the remainder of the game, and bar some late pressure in stoppage time, we comfortably saw it out for a vital win.
The importance of the 3 points is unquestionable, but let’s face it Middlesbrough were shite. With pathetic support and a manager, who from his post match interview doesn’t seem to give a monkeys, they are a club in crisis. The standard of the SPL is clear for all to see when a combination of its all time record scorer (Kris Boyd) and a double title winning striker (Scott McDonald) fail to trouble the shakiest defence since OJ Simpson’s.
For us the result was everything. The performance of Howson was encouraging, he looked a real box to box player and certainly benefited from Faye sitting. Snoddy looked dangerous and Becchio finally found a bit of form. Downers were the injuries, particularly to Watt, who as I said was impressive early on. Faye went off, but I think he felt he had to after rolling around so much when he went down.
Last word has to go to Becchio. He is iIn his 3rd season and I have never heard him speak. Sky certainly won’t be interviewing him again. Its fitting that our hard working striker should use some industrial strength language to sum up our win “It was fucking unbelievable.”