Snoddy foaming with rage at Bell-end-amy

It was a dinner time start for most Leeds United fans as we made our way towards Wales hoping the new Cardiff City bowl would bring us more luck than their old ground.

With the form table showing a struggling Cardiff and an undefeated-in-twelve, Leeds United, most Whites fans seemed optimistic ahead of this one. There were also those of us that pointed to our record against the Welsh side however and would have snatched your hand off for a fourth consecutive draw. Seven times we’d met Cardiff since relegation, losing five, drawing two and winning none of them. Before that, the last time we beat them was 1984 when Eddie Gray was manager.

After what seemed like a very long journey, we arrived at a service station where a pointless exercise to hand tickets out took place (creating absolute chaos) before the Leeds fans were monitored en-route to the stadium by the caring boys in blue. Bit like being a celebrity really – arrive in a foreign land and watch the foreigners tax money carefully wasted on your visit. Not too shabby.

By this point, the team news was starting to come through and there was a couple of surprises in store as Simon Grayson decided to flirt with 4-4-2 again and partner Ross McCormack and Billy Paynter up front. There was also a much welcomed return for Ben Parker at left-back, which prompted me to start taking bets on how many minutes he would last – sorry, but he’s made of glass (although my 30 minute prediction was somewhat wide of the mark).

Once safely inside the Peter Ridsdale identi-kit bowl with the rain lashing down on Wales, the game got under way and a pattern of sustained pressure from Cardiff began. Craig Bellamy was fit to start contrary to reports earlier in the week and it was himself and England striker, Michael Chopra causing the most problems for Leeds. Andy Keogh – remember him? – was also a particular nuisance as the Whites struggled to settle into the game.

The best Leeds United saw of the early exchanges was a curled shot wide from Robert Snodgrass, before Craig Bellamy went up the other end and made it 1-0 with just eleven minutes played. Dreadful defending from Leeds, who held off the Man City striker allowing him to stab the ball through Leeds’ defence and the legs of Kasper Schmeichel to open the scoring.

The frustration amongst those in White was quickly becoming evident as Robert Snodgrass and Paul Connolly were lured into handbag contests with the thuggish Craig Bellamy. Whilst Snoddy giving him a black eye would have been somewhat satisfying for the travelling fans, this is exactly what the Man City man does to his markers and Connelly and Snods should have known better.

The remainder of the first half is one the travelling Leeds fans will quickly want to forget. Kasper Schmeichel made a series of saves and clearances to keep the score respectable as Cardiff completely dominated the tie. But Cardiff failed to capitalise on their almost total dominance and the game remained 1-0 at the break.

Talking on Twitter at half time, I’d made an exaggerated guess that Cardiff must have had 29 corners to Leeds’ 1. Numerous replies came in and it turned out the actual stat was Cardiff 9-2 Leeds United, and that pretty much summed up the amount of this game we’d seen so far. If Leeds were going to end a record of forgettable score-lines against Cardiff, something had to give.

The second half began much the same as the first ended and Kasper Schmeichel remained Leeds United’s most productive player.

With less than 15 minutes of the second half played, Simon Grayson made the changes needed to give Leeds United some kind of attacking threat and width in the game. Lloyd Sam and Sanchez Watt were the players brought on in place of Gradel and McCormack. It would prove to be an inspired change that would make an immediate impact.

Only two minutes Sanchez Watt was on the pitch before he made a pacey run down the wing and played Lloyd Sam in who turned two players before seeing his shot denied by the keeper. As Leeds looked to maintain the pressure from the attempted clearance, Robert Snodgrass picked the ball up on the edge of the area and fired a stunning curling shot into the top corner to level the game. 1-1

No sooner had Lloyd Sam come on, than he was taken off again as he pulled up in noticeable discomfort and signalled to the bench to make the change. As Sam was taken away with the 1,900 Leeds fans watching in concern, Luciano Becchio came on as his replacement and there was a moment of expectancy as Cardiff’s fans grew restless from failing to shut Leeds out earlier.

Cardiff responded though but Andy Keogh’s shot was weak, allowing Schmeichel to make an easy save before Leeds countered again and Ben Parker saw a rare opportunity to shoot sail wide. A game that Cardiff should have won with ease was suddenly wide open.

However, any momentum Leeds had built up seemed to dissipate when Sanchez Watt and Paul Quinn clashed heads with around fifteen minutes remaining. Cardiff players clearly aren’t built as tough as Leeds United ones, because Quinn had to be subbed off whilst the spirited Watt was bandaged up and bouncing back on in minutes. He later revealed on Twitter that he had to have stitches after the game, so the youngster deserves a massive amount of credit for his bravery.

With another former Leeds United player, Stephen McPhail now on the pitch and Quinn taking his Calpol in the dressing room – it did look quite bad in fairness, and unlike us, they still had subs left – Michael Chopra was gifted an opportunity from nothing and with the Leeds defenders seemingly taking a break after a tough day at the office, the England striker was left happily surprised with the ease at which he drifted into a shooting position to put Cardiff back ahead.

If you don’t get to see much of Leeds United and wonder what it is that prompts my unrelenting attacks on our playdough-like defence, here are the highlights. I used the analogy that ‘our defence parted easier than Jordan’s legs’ a couple of games back, but here we take it one step further and arrive in Jodie Marsh territory.

There was an admirable attempt from Leeds to level the scores after that with Howson and Becchio both having good chances, but the scoreline was a fair reflection on the game and the lads can have no complaints. Whilst I’m sure the Leeds players would argue that they did enough in the second half to take something from the tie, you can’t start playing football after 45 minutes and expect to maintain an undefeated run. There’s just nothing to blame it on I’m afraid – even the referee (Andy D’Urso) had a good game!

The worst thing about going to Cardiff is the long trip home – especially when we always leave defeated. The Police never help matters either, and the rescheduling of this game was an absolute nonsense, that has left us long-suffering Leeds fans fumbling our way through work, massively deprived of sleep. Still, onwards and upwards…

TSS man of the match

Always hard work in defeat. Kasper Schmeichel did well to keep what could have been an absolute hammering down to 2-1. Sanchez Watt also did well when he came on, but not enough time on the pitch for MOTM and Snoddy had moments of brilliance in between his cat-fights with Bellamy. However, the only person worthy of man of the match is myself and every other Leeds United fan for their fantastic support at a night time fixture that has probably left many surviving today on a diet of coffee, Red Bull and Pro Plus.