United honour Speed with Forest stroll Gary November 30, 2011 Match reviews 25 Comments If Barnsley faded into insignificance after the act due to Sunday’s galling turn of events, there was a sharpened focus on this one, as the eyes of the nation were upon us. The planned Speed commemorations made national news before kick-off and undoubtedly were the focus, but it couldn’t be denied that we were looking for a response on the field, regardless of outside circumstance. And boy, did we get it. In a tactical about-face, Grayson reverted to the 4-5-1/4-3-3 that served us so well for long periods last term: Becchio the lone target, with Aidy White pushed onto the left wing to offer us more attacking thrust, and Danny Pugh slotting in the space White has made his own up to now. There can be little doubt that the opener came more or less on the 22nd minute mark. Even the most sentimental and/or superstitious surely wouldn’t seriously have had us scoring right at the end of ‘eleven minutes for Gary’, but occasionally truth has the strange knack of ticking all the right boxes. A nice interchange of passes saw Snodgrass some distance out, with a singularity of purpose – hitting a class left-footer past the despairing Lee Camp. Jubilation from the now slightly hoarse-throated following, tinged with more than a little disbelief at how literally the boys had interpreted the script. It didn’t take too long to get even better. Leeds were well on top now, and in a clear act of wonder-goal one-upmanship, Jonny Howson, once again proving to be twice the player as the advanced midfielder in a central three, takes an even more improbable first-time ping from even further out that arrowed into the top corner. Two-nil, for Gary Speed (or the Gary Speed, depending on taste), we sang. And the number was only going to climb. It would be fair to admit that not all sides are going to be as accommodating as Forest. They looked devoid of threat, belief, and in particular were completely unable to get a handle on Leeds down the flanks. Their performance befitted their precarious league position, and frankly, I don’t imagine the complaints of injustice would have been too vocal if it had ended with eight in Leeds’ column. As it was, we had to ‘settle’ for four; the result left in no doubt after two somewhat more prosaic second half finishes: a stooping header getting Becchio back into the scoring habit from a delightful Brown delivery, and Clayton taking a touch before smashing home just before the 70-minute mark following the induction of yet more scrambled panic in the Forest backline. It was pleasing to see Luciano seemingly nearing full fitness again; his work-rate phenomenally improved from some recent worrying showings. Honourable mention also to Michael Brown: recalled to the side, he also looked sharp and willing, putting in some telling grind and dominating his midfield opposition with a range of neat passes. It remains to be seen how Grayson’s going to keep our wealth of striking options happy if he does revert to this formation with greater permanence – not least our top scorer. But these things are for another day. Another word about the fans. One of the fullest repertoires in recent times rang out all game (you know the full song book is being called upon when Calypso gets a fair run-out), with only minimal social security-related responses from our fellow ‘Fallen Giants.’ The minute’s appreciation before the game and the eleven minutes during were well-received by the Home supporters, though, to their credit. For me, it was the best Away in recent memory, and couldn’t even be spoiled by realising I’d cack-handedly put my stake on 0-4 at 80/1 in the 0-3 box… Well, as a Leeds fan, you know you’re not going to have it all your own way, right? I chose to laugh my head off. This was an occasion that a simple cash-related cock-up was never going to marr. With a midfield performance of craft, commitment and more flashes of dynamism than we’d seen of late, it was certainly a fitting tribute to Speedo. Let’s hope it’s not too much of a leap of faith to imagine home form is rediscovered against Millwall, to seal a perfect week in honour of a fallen hero. Poor, albeit watchable, highlights are now available on The Revie Way.