Another crazy day of mixed emotions for Leeds fans after we escaped from defeat at the Valley with automatic promotion still in our own hands. Throughout the game, the travelling Leeds United fans were kept informed of events elsewhere and when Andy Robinson made it 2-0 to Tranmere Rovers, Leeds United were one goal away from their seasons aim of automatic promotion.

This being Leeds however, things were never going to be that easy. The team had looked bright and hungry throughout the first half and although we went into the break at 0-0, there was a lot to be optimistic about. Unfortunately, things didn’t run quite as well in the second half and Charlton started to edge Leeds out.

Still at 0-0 and knowing the results elsewhere were going in our favour, Simon Grayson took a calculated risk to give Leeds United more options upfront. Beckford was the first player on, replacing Robert Snodgrass with Gradel dropping back a little. This was followed by Sanchez Watt replacing Micky Doyle ten minutes later and Mike Grella replacing Andy Hughes with about five minutes remaining.

When you need a goal to secure promotion back to the Championship, it makes sense that you give yourself as many attacking options as possible upfront and Simon Grayson did the right thing. It had been another closely matched game where for large parts, both teams had absorbed any attacking threat from the other, but the changes opened things up noticeably. It worked in Leeds’ favour to some extent, allowing Beckford a good chance, but it also allowed Charlton more space on the attack too and they ultimately punished us for it with three minutes remaining when Akpo Sodje scored via the head of Richard Naylor.

The Leeds fans were silenced. It was a nervous performance from Leeds, and when playing it along the ground in the first half didn’t prove affective, they resorted to the dreaded long-ball and the chances became even fewer and farer between.

It wasn’t the most unexpected of results, or performances. The reverse fixture at Elland Road earlier in the season that ended 0-0 was just as frustrating as this one so it seemed unlikely the goals were going to flow at the Valley. The problem is that both teams play a similar style so neither ends up with much room.

What the result means is that there are now five teams capable of achieving automatic promotion from League One next week. Two of them play at the New Den as Millwall host Swindon. If that game ends in a draw, then both Charlton and Huddersfield could capitalise. Charlton would need a win away to Oldham, whilst Huddersfield would need to do a demolition job at Exeter City, but could mathematically go up by goal-difference.

As it stands, Leeds United lead the way though and that’s all that really matters. A win over a Bristol side who we destroyed 4-0 earlier in the season is all Leeds United need to escape the hell of League One football. In our previous meeting, Bristol had a defence made of play-dough and Leeds United came back in style after our first defeat of the season to Millwall. A similar display next week and it’ll be one hell of a party at the sold-out Elland Road.

With a lot of thanks to Andy Robinson and the usual unpredictability of League One, we head into the final game in a position I think we’d have all accepted at the beginning of the season. 90 minutes of football on Saturday will determine what division Leeds United play in next season and that’s all there really is to it. Our lack of points against the top six this season, the defensive hole Paddy’s injury has left, the lack of goals from midfield and our apparent need to do things the hard way have taken us all on a journey through third division hell that boils down to one game against Bristol. As Winston Churchill once said, ‘If you’re going through hell, keep going…’

  • Kernow

    “90 minutes of football on Saturday will determine what division Leeds United play in next season and that’s all there really is to it.”

    Sounds like a play-off – Oh fond memories!

    • TSS

      Didn’t we ban the ‘P’ word earlier in the season? Haha

      • So we lost the battle can still win the war! Was an example of two systems cancelling each other out that could have gone either way. Respect to Grayson for going for it with nothing to loose a throwing his attacking options on but another OG from Naylor is hard to swallow, I just don’t think he has been good enough lately and though it is not ideal to start messing about with the back four can we afford another less than average performance next Saturday? The boys need to regroup, keep away from the press reminding them of what needs to be done and stay focused on the job in hand. Forget Man U, this is the biggest game these players will ever be involved in and I don’t care how they do it, they must win on Saturday at all costs. Getting this Leeds side promoted will without doubt make each and every one of them a hero to the Leeds faithful across the world. Time to stand up and be counted boys! MOT

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  • Craig

    Another good report TSS. I managed to catch about half of the game on a very jumpy internet connection but your comments seem to sum it up well. I posted yesterday that, much as I have lauded Grayson for his brave substitutions in previous games, this time all the extra strikers was a foolhardy gamble given that Millwall were losing. Although it looked like we needed 3 points at the beginning of the day, at 4.35 one point would have been a fantastic haul, making it even more difficult for Millwall to catch us next weekend.

    Instead, we had already removed two midfielders for strikers (making hoofball inevitable as there was no midfield left to play the ball through) and then removed Hughes – a swap that left THE HOLE that Charlton exploited. By all means add attackers towards then end of a game but as like-for-like replacements or by the replacement of one player from midfield or defence, not three! There is no point in having five strikers on the pitch when there’s no one else left to play the ball to them.

  • Irving08

    Sorry to disagree, but I think still going for a win in the final minutes was absurd and unecessary. A point was all we needed to give us a bit of breathing space next week – when one point would probably be enough. When in doubt Simon, think Mourinho: hold what you have. Of course, they may still have scored, but even if they hadn’t it would still have been a bad decision. Not for the first ime Simon’d decision-making in critical situatiosn has been shown to be lacking – mind, with Snodin by his side, I am not surprised.

    • TSS

      I have to disagree with the idea of playing for a point. As it was before the subs, we were on the back-foot anyway and Charlton could still have scored. A point this week and one next wouldn’t have guaranteed us promotion anyway. It would likely have come down to goal difference between us and Millwall, and I think they’d have probably ended up having it pretty easy next week.

      Also, had we played for a point, I have no doubts there’d be a queue of you complaining about us not trying to kill the season off, so Larry couldn’t win (unless he won).

      The subs didn’t actually leave the midfield empty by the way. Gradel and Watt played midfield, so the only area that really lost numbers was the defence.

      Either way, a win next week at a sold-out Elland Road is all we need so we should be looking forward positively.

      • TheReaper08

        Totally agree TSS, a point would have achieved nothing and further more would have made the home game against Bristol Rovers more difficult as the mindset of ‘playing for a draw’ would have kicked in.

        Can you imagine the uproar if we had played for a draw and then Millwall beat Swindon 3-0, don’t tell me it’s unlikley because anything is possible in this league.

        I actually astonished to read that we should have been ‘edging a point further away’ when the end result is negligible. I can only presume and I don’t mean this in a derogatory way that that attitude is of someone who hasn’t played competitive sport at any level.

        • Craig

          Sorry but, if you are answering my post, you have missed my point. I wasn’t suggesting we play for a draw from the beginning of the Charlton match. Heaven forbid. I thought I made it clear that in the 84th minute when he made the final substitution, with Millwall 0-2 down, Grayson should have settled for a draw.

          There is also no way that we are going to play for a draw against Rovers. I consider victory pretty much certain against them but if, for any reason they park a bus and we don’t get a goal, a point from yesterday’s match would also have meant that Charlton needed to beat Swindon by 3 goals.

          • TSS

            Still disagree. The only suggestion I would offer as an alternative is putting on Aidy White at left-back to offer some pace and width as we went all-out-attack, but sitting back and accepting the draw wouldn’t have gone done well. It was a calculated gamble that unfortunately failed, but I fully support the managers decision to take it.

          • TheReaper08

            So, to summarise. With 5 minutes left to play and knowing that Millwall were losing and had no chance of overhauling us into 2nd effectively leaving us with nothing to lose and everything to gain we should have played for the draw.

          • TheReaper08

            Sorry Craig, in my extreme tiredness my newborn son is bringing me it might sound like I am making this personal and I am not.

            I am a gambler, always have been, always will be. If I get an opportunty to go for it, then whatever it is I will.

          • Craig

            Yes Reaper, I’m afraid so, but only under yesterday’s circumstances. In every other game of the season Grayson’s decision was laudable but in this game I think he made a mistake. Bringing White on, however, would have been a better call that would not have left the defence so exposed – although White or Lowry would have had to switch flanks which is probably why Grayson didn’t do it.

            Both options are a gamble in fact. The difference between our approaches is that I am willing to play the long game and maximise our chances of promotion next weekend whereas your gamble placed greater importance on being promoted yesterday. I fully expect that it won’t matter either way and that we’ll beat BR.

            Enjoy (if that is the right word to a tired father) your son at every age Reaper. I’m about to take mine back to Uni!

  • Craig

    On the upside, it has to be 90% certain we are going up next Saturday given the recent form of Bristol Rovers. Their recent results (BR first) read:

    0-3
    1-2
    0-0
    1-5
    1-2

  • derbyshirewhite

    Really looking forward to Saturday. It’s going to be like one of those Bond movies with the clock on the nuclear bomb ticking away whilst our hero struggles out of his chains to save the planet with only seconds remaining. Either that or Groundhog Day, I’m not sure….

    • Craig

      Please not Groundhog Day…

  • Will

    TSS, you make it sound so easy for next weekend!

    In your heart you know we will go into half-time 1-0 down, Naylor sent off, and Huddersfield winning 6-0 and in 2nd place!

    At least with Naylor off the pitch we would have a chance in the second half and going into the 90th minute, after an 89th minute equaliser, and knowing a winning goal gets us up we are awarded a lucky penalty for Beckford to take with what could be his last ever kick in a white shirt in front of the kop!

    And he hits it off the keepers legs and post and wide to “earn” the draw that sees us waiting for the Swindon/Millwall result, also a draw, before there is the drama of a penalty to one of them and it goes in and proves to be the winning goal.

    Well, that’s what I envisage, and certainly this increasingly dislikaeble team of ours led by a clueless manager, are not going to romp to a 3-0 lead after 30 minutes! We don’t do easy.

    But to be optimisitc, and we do indeed win, then would a promotion by default ever have attracted so many mixed emotions?

    After 2010’s uninspring performances, then it will be a case of “Lucky Leeds” indeed!

    But heyu, who cares!

    Please can we just get out of this truly awful league! I don’t care how lucky we need to be, can we just get the f*** out of it!?

    That will be my overwhelming emotion if we are promoted – one of great relief, and certainly not a triumph to remember fondly in 20 years time.

    It’s best to forget LUFC for a week, and do/think about something more spirt lifting instead!

    • Craig

      How about spending the week writing a movie script. Hollywood would snap up anything you produce in your current mood!

  • Henry V

    I don’t think we could have asked for more than this, in view of our recent form.
    Full house!
    The noise will be deafening!!
    I game for promotion!
    We do not need someone else to lose to help us!
    Team selection will be interesting!!
    I never thought Millwall would lose!!

    Henry.

  • Paul South Wales

    I hope Beckford starts and signs off with a hat-trick to remember him by

  • TheReaper08

    My best mate who is a die hard Saints fan visited his girlfriend who lives in Bristol. Bored he decide to go to the Rovers v Norwich game yesterday and text me to say Rovers were already on the beach. Norwich rested Holt and Hoolahan and he reckons Norwich could have scored double figures.

    Our results against Rovers are usually decent so I am as confident as I can be that we will seal the deal next weekend.

    • Craig

      This is encouraging news – not for your mate though. If a trip to see his girlfriend makes him so bored he wants to watch Bristol Rovers as a tonic, his relationship has to be doomed.

      • TheReaper08

        Yeah didn’t think of it like that. As it happens I think she works Saturday’s so he often likes to take in games. He is reliable source though so I remain optimisitic.

  • Si

    I have to agree with TSS and Reaper re SG tactics, if we would have scored the goal and not Charlton, we would all be calling him Sir this morning!!

    I too had a mate at the Bristol game who gave me exactly the same feedback as Reaper’s guy

    Beckford must start next week – he absolutely must start – we have it in us to have the game won and be promoted by halftime. I know that that wont be the case but we do have it in us…..

    I am very optimistic and very confident that we will be promoted next Saturday, i am not confident we will win the match, but we will be promoted and it will be by goal difference to Charlton

    • Craig

      Well the only way that’s going top happen is if we lose 0-1 and Charlton + Millwall share a 0-0 draw. Surely you aren’t predicting either of those results?

      • Craig

        Sorry, I’ve made a mistake. Taking into account Millwall’s record against us I calculate that your scenario is impossible.

  • AndyBarx

    Diary of a Dubai Leeds fan.

    While sitting in Dubai, watching the BBC teletext and vidiprinter at the same time (both quicker than subscribing to LUFC webs*ite) and praying for just one goal, JUST ONE GOAL, for one Leeds player to stand up and put the ball in the net.

    I got my wish, I just didn’t qualify it well enough beforehand. I spent the rest of the evening chuntering away a phrase that rhymes with ‘CLUCKING BELL’.

    Onto next weekend, where my ‘remote’ support will be pre-qualified with some well thought out wishes on what I want the Leeds score to be. Or perhaps I just get on a magic carpet and come back!

    Keep up the quality posts please!

  • Timmo

    A draw would have bin nice as a result yesterday, and my foot wouldn’t be swollen from kickin the wall when they scored, but let’s face it, it would still have required a result next Sat. The subs didn’t work as planned, but it was worth a shot. I only saw the second half and it wasn’t great but I did see a few strong defensive challenges so that’s a plus even if Nayls decision took the ball out of Higgs hands he was throwin his body on the line. Next week could be epic, wish I was there,enjoy. I would start Watt, Bromby and Beckford, Kandol on the bench and Casper on at half time when we’re 4 up. Poor Casper :)

  • Timothy Wilson

    BTW thanks for all the posts TSS. Alone here in Florida this is my support group. The yanks jus don’t get it, an the ones that do support the teams in red. Marchin on

  • TSS

    Thanks Timothy and Andy. Florida and Dubai – Seems Leeds United fans get everywhere! Keep up the support lads. MOT!

  • Henryv

    I am so relieved we are still in with a chance.
    I have just watched Sheffield Wednesday dropping into ‘our’ league!!
    We have been here long enough!
    I feel strangly relaxed after so much tension these last few weeks.

    Come on the boys.

    Henry.

  • colet

    I should be relaxed, but as i write my palms are sweaty and my stomach churning, maybe the 4o,ooo crowd will lift their game, what about nobody turning up so it helps our guys nerves??….maybe not!

  • Arniemar

    I felt Leeds started the game with too conservative a line up and were never really going to put Charlton on the backfoot as a result. The game was ours to win, but yet again we slipped to another poor defeat. Not sure why Doyle merited a recall and Watt was unlucky to be dropped. Beckford should have started too. He MUST MUST start on Saturday.
    It’s also ridiculous to suggest the team should have played for a draw after Tranmere went two-nil up. There was a chance to be promoted automatically and we should have grabbed it with both hands – god knows we’ve turned enough opportunities down to capitalise on other teams’ poor results this season.
    As things stand we are crawling – not sprinting to the finish line and I cannot believe we still remain in second place!
    Yes we all know Leeds should beat Bristol R on Saturday but can any LUFC fans say hand on heart they are 100 per cent confident of that? I can’t!
    We don’t deserve to be promoted if we can’t get the three points.

    • Joe Black

      I agree. Despite all that has gone on with Beckford over the past few months his goals (and perhaps some luck with other teams´ results) are still the reason we have this chance of promotion. My heart sank when I saw he was on the bench again last Saturday as he’s still the player most likely to snatch you a goal in a tight match. He must start start against Bristol Rovers and probabaly Watt also.

  • 4-3-3

    watt and becchio as providers for JB.

    snoddy, howson and kilkenny midfield

    same back 4

    big game, we will do it

  • Ron

    Why on earth did Sanchez Watt not retain his starting spot when a victory is the ONLY result we should be playing for. There’s a good reason he’s been signed by Arsenal in the first place – he’s a better footballer than most in this division. Very happy it’s a packed house at ER, but every time this happens the opposition players seem to play out of their skins. Lastly, if this is Beckford’s last game, I hope he starts and sends us up. Good luck to him after that.

  • Lee B

    There is some really good news to come out of this w/end – we may already be promoted!
    The maths is simple. If Millwall/Swindon win, we need 3 points. If they draw and Charlton don’t win, we are already up (as long as we don’t lose by more than one goal).

    There has been a lot of doom-saying since Grayson’s gamble of going for the win against Charlton, when some say he should have settled for a point. It doesn’t matter. The maths don’t change. If he’d settled for a point, we’d still need 3 points if Millwall/Swindon win next week.
    The gamble was a good one. Nothing to lose, everything to gain – and still another chance to do it all again next Saturday.

    Ultimately I’m an optimist, and while I’ve become rather pessimistic in recent weeks, the old optimism is returning. I thought that we’d need to win the last 7 games to get automatic promotion, but other teams have been feeling the pressure as well as us. I could never have dreamed that having lost 2 of the last 3 we’d still be in 2nd place and our fate still in our own hands.

    I know we won’t do things the easy way, but we’ll never have a better chance than this (well, not this season anyway). One punchy performance against one punch-drunk team (they’ve picked up 1 point in the last 5 matches – and that was at home, and lost 4-0 to us at their place) and we’re over the finishing line.

    It’s time to start feeling positive again. Maybe that positivity will start to dribble across the terraces and onto the pitch. If the fans believe, maybe the players will too, and if they do…

    Maybe, just maybe we can do it the easy way…

    Just this once…

  • halifax white

    everyone is saying it “enough is enough”!!! we should have creamed this league weeks ago, many players got ideas above themselves after that glorious victory against the scum!! the team has not performed since then, there has been the odd glimpse of togetherness but not enough!! i think larry should have rotated a bit more to add an edge!! but that is not our way!! on a personnal note im not holding me breath for saturday. I will as normal be in the kop shouting me head off with my ten year old crossing fingers, praying and hoping!!(prob after ive forked out 80 quid for the new tops!! which does anyone know what it looks like???) onwards and hopefully upwards!! MOT!!

  • guy’s, if I have a win on tattslotto tonight I am on my way, and the kiwi will first class. How will I get a ticket? anyone a mate of bates?