Won on the night, drew overall, but out on penalties. Despite a defiant comeback from a never say die Leeds United side who were unquestionaly the better team overall, it’s Carlisle that will play in this years JPT final at Wembley Stadium whilst Leeds United are dealt a bitter blow by the coin flip that is a penalty shoot-out.

I left Carlisle on Tuesday night feeling extremely bitter. The JPT for me was always a pointless competition I cared little about, but the opportunity to watch Leeds United play at Wembley once more was always tempting. My bitterness stemmed from quite possibly the worst referee I have ever seen. I usually try to ignore referee’s performances, because on the whole, the lower league ones are largely useless and both teams have to cope with their incompetence, but this referee was a special kind of moron.

Clearly, this ref had just got himself a new whistle and wanted to show it off to the 10,000 fans who he mistakenly believed had come to watch him. His whistle spent so much time in his mouth that the game hardly had a chance to flow early on, but he did seem to let up a little second half (presumably after a bollocking from someone) and the two teams were actually allowed to play football in small patches.

What was all the more irritating about this referee than the usual jobsworth was his inability to give a decision that actually mattered. If a player coughed near another one anywhere outside the penalty box then this was a definite free-kick in his mind. However, when a Leeds United player was fouled in the box for the most clear cut decision I saw all night, he gave nothing! The final blow for me though came at the very end when he decided to have the penalties taken infront of the Carlisle fans rather than at the opposite end which was split. The coin toss became a little more weighted in their direction at that point.

When the ref did stop to capture his breath, the game was actually a really good battle. The scoreline says it all really, but the comeback from Leeds United was magnificent. Both teams will be questioning some of the defending in the aftermath, most noticably Lubomir Michalik on our part who got himself two assists for Carlisle. Whenever it looked like it was over, Leeds United just didn’t give in and you could sense Mike Grella’s goal coming and just knew this was going down to the wire.

Carlisle for me didn’t deserve their place in the final, Leeds were the better team and but for some poor defending and a few dodgy decisions, we’d be playing in the most exciting JPT final the competition has ever seen infront of a capacity crowd at the national stadium. Without us, the final will hardly be thought of outside Carlisle, but we bow out of the competition with our heads held high and are now fully focused on what has been the number one priority all along. Promotion.

The ups

The fans – As always, the fans did Leeds United proud. We outsang the pitiful Carlisle fans throughout and even when our backs were to the wall facing a two goal mountain the songs just kept coming. MOT!

Never say die – The penalty shootout aside, this was a display from a spirited Leeds United who never gave up and carried on fighting no matter what the scoreline read and however stacked against us the odds were. This is the kind of display that will win Leeds United promotion, however bad the defence may be at times.

Attack, attack… attack, attack, attack! When the goals were needed and the referee kept his whistle out of his mouth for long enough and even without Jermaine Beckford (who would have probably got sent off with that ref) Leeds were good when on the front foot. Becchio should have done better with a couple of chances, but the build-up play from McSheffrey, Snoddy and Gradel was usually very good. Snoddy even managed to cross pretty well so long as the ball was moving. Corners on the other hand… Well, one step at a time…

The Downs

Luciano Becchio – Bitterly disappointed with Luci who bottled the penalty shoot-out, leaving our on-loan full-back to take the decisive penalty instead. Only one regular striker on the pitch in the absence of Beckford and he didn’t have the balls to step up and take a pen for Leeds. Whatever his reasons, he’s a striker and should always be taking them before the full-backs. Also could have done better infront of goal, but as a lone striker Grayson was asking a lot.

Max Gradel – Too much time with Jermaine Beckford has led to the youngster developing a serious attitude problem. The referee infuriated everyone, but shouting at him was never going to get you too far Max. There was one point where Kilkenny tried to calm him down only to receive a load of abuse too. His footballing display was good and he tried everything to give Leeds the edge, but his attitude overshadowed his performance. Lucky not to see a red card.

Lubomir Michalik – Dreadful. At times he made some good tackles and got the blocks in, but when taken into context with his mistakes, he was dreadful and cost us the game.

The tactics – Becchio as a lone striker? I know he’s found his shooting boots lately, but that was never a good idea. What on earth does Mike Grella have to do to get in the starting line-up at Leeds?

  • Leeds through & through

    couldnt agree more with all of this, the referee was disgusting on the night anything in and around there penalty box was never going to be a foul in our favour even if we was still playing now, max gradel did have good spells but as said above his attitude was rediculous at times. when grella came on he yet again changed the pace of the game and made a certain impact still dont understand why he didnt start with beckford out injured. and as for michalik he is by far our worst and most dreadful, clumsy, useless defender we have in the squad. yeh he gets a few blocks in at times but thats just due to his sheer size.

  • Lets just be glad we didn’t get this ref in a league game.. Couldn’t agree more, he totally ruined the first half with his constant stoppages…. Anyway onwards and upwards, though you are always disappointed on the day, all the distractions have now gone, so could well be a blessing in disguise that we are out of this mickey mouse tournament. Up by Easter bring on the Championship….

  • Grumpy Older Man

    Other than suggesting you have no idea whether Becchio choose not to take one or Grayson choose the order its a good article. Personally I’m pleased we don’t have another depressing grey day in Wembley to care about (and it proberbly saved a right row with the wife).

  • Ash c

    Yes i agree what was said about the ref! But i do think that max gradel was tryin 2 hard at times, there was a number of times wer i think he mad the wrong decsions maybe coz he is young n stil learnin but killa had every right 2 ave a go he got a bit greedy! 2 be honest we can take alot of positives from the game the fact we was 2 dwn with 10 mins left n we came out as the winners on the night. Also with out paddy K at the bak we look very dodgy n lack in shape and dnt look very comanding hopfully he is bak soon

  • DC

    I though it was a dismal performance by us. Oh, I couldn’t agree more about the spirit, desire and determination…. but…. where was the quality? I thought we looked like we were being managed by Aidy Boothroyd. We were just lumping balls up top and getting nowhere with it. I thought it was shocking! We didn’t try to get the ball down and pass it, and SG didn’t seem to be bothered about that. It’s a very sad day when you can’t beat lowly Carlisle over 2 legs.

    On a positive note, the spirit in this team is unbelievable. And we now have no more distractions. Let’s hope we can now press on and get automatic promotion, starting with 3pts on Saturday.

    • timm

      Totally agree DC. Worst performance in last 18 months.

  • Ash c

    Also i think grella should get played alot more, he came on and look sharp n very dangerous and fully deserved his goal! I think he could offer alot more than luci even thou he is a a goal streak! Stil feel that we need 2 strengthin are left bak lowry can do a job 4 nw, dnt think hughes can play there no more as i think the teams have found him out!

    • LUFC-mac

      Totally agree about Grella.
      We have wondered all along what would happen if Becks had gone!
      Now we know, if SG continues with Snods, Gradel or McSheffrey up with Beccs we will struggle!
      Grella must start, the fella deserves it too.

    • Craig

      If I were Grella I think I’d be considering my future at Elland Road. Surely this would have been an ideal occasion to give him his head. Shame, since he is clearly a very skillful player.

  • Paul S.Wales

    Agree with everything said TSS. Grella needs to start more, defo! Lubo? Well ihope that’s the last we see of him for a while. Why wasn’t Bromby in at centre half? Strange one. Anyway if we show that character and dogged determination (as we did for most of the 1st half of the season before the cup distractions) we’ll fly this league. Need a big three points Saturday and more importantly a clean sheet (If Paddy’s back), and that should bode well for throwing Charlton off our scent. MOT.

  • David N.I.

    Agree DC, playing the JB long ball and chase only thing was JB wasn’t playing. Poor set up to start with Snodgrass not on the wing?? We should have been going to the final Paint Pot or not a finals a final and it’s as close are we are getting to a day out, only thing is Southampton would have beaten us. We are a very very average footballing team with a big name. I do fear for us again this year. Finally Becchio can’t play and is a lost soul without JB.

    David N.I.

    • LUFC-mac

      A bit unfair on Becchio as he was on his own up front.
      He rarely lets us down when he has some support.

    • Craig

      Becchio gives his all for the team when played in his best position. I felt sorry for him in the lone striker role.

  • TheReaper08

    Naylor let’s the ball bounce for the first goal electing to let one of the shortest players on the pitch (Crowe) try and deal with it. When he then tries to recover the situation he toe pokes a ball straight at lubo which hits him on the shin and falls nicely for the goalscorer. Fail to see how that’s big Lubo’s fault. I though he had done well lately, he isn’t brilliant but then apart from Kisnorbo I don’t think the others are either.

    I guess because Lubo isn’t from Leeds nor has he confessed his undying love for the club we should all just form a line for the public lynching, after all everything must be his fault that’s what we do isn’t it ?

    • LUFC-mac

      Wouldn’t it be great if we had Rui back (at last seasons level) alongside Paddy?
      Nayls hasn’t been as solid this season after his injured start.

    • Colin

      Well said Reaper. Lubo needs a good long run to get confidence and he’ll be fine. Whether he gets that is another matter.

      I still think we chop and change too much. Casper must be doing his nut in, he never knows who out of Paddy, Naylor, Lubo, Crowe, Hughes, Bromby, White he’s going to have in front of him. Seems to change from game to game.

      I think Becchio looks like he was a player struggling with form before but he’s looking like he’s coming into some sort of form and with Beckford back, then that’s a recipe for goals. I also like McSheffrey and Grella is looking like he’s itching to play also. Just a shame that he doesn’t get the time on the pitch I think he deserves.

      It’s just the defence and the midfield that need to start working better. Bradley Johnson has gone completely off the boil (again!), Gradel’s a bit mad and Doyle doesn’t look too great to me – I’d rather have a regular partnership with Jonny and Kilkenny in midfield.

      Oh and by the way, we now know why we got Shane Higgs so cheap. He’s permanently crocked. If we’d have flogged Casper then we would have been screwed. I hope we didn’t give him a long term contract.

      • Colin

        And also, Leeds need to get their cheque book out quick. Similar to the Beckford situation (and yes Leeds can afford him if they really want him), there are going to be a lot of bids for Snodgrass in the Summer. 1) Under no circumstance should he be sold and 2) Get him on a better contract now!!

        • TheReaper08

          I think that the only way we will keep Snoddy is if we get promoted.

          • Colin

            Agreed. I was taking that for granted. Even with promotion, I think he needs a new contract. If we don’t get promoted, he’s a gonner.

  • LUFC-mac

    Another good post TSS.
    Lately I have been watching these cup games and thinking it’s better if we are out of this and concentrating on our number 1 goal – promotion.
    Once the game starts it all changes, I don’t ever want to see Leeds lose!!!
    And yes, a day out at Wembley would have been great, even though we are usually crap when we get there!
    So now after Spurs and Carlisle, lets crack on and get our marvellous support behind the team, see you all at Orient!! MOT