A surprisingly large crowd of 18,000 descended upon Elland Road for the first competitive match of the 2012/2013 season – a first round match against Shrewsbury Town in the ever ludicrously named League Cup, now sponsored by Capital One. Many will have bought their tickets to the Shrews match in the belief that it would be the opening game of a new era at Leeds United, under the control of our elusive middle-eastern suitors. Instead, the Leeds faithful opened up their programmes to see the immovable Ken Bates staring back at them, making no mention of takeovers, or even investment, in his usual pre-game propaganda.

Compounding the confusion and disappointment was the announcement before kick-off that El Hadji Diouf, a player once described as a ‘Sewer Rat’ by none other than Neil Warnock, has joined the club on a non-contract basis. Mere mention or sight of Diouf throughout proceedings created a pantomime atmosphere, with boos and cheering fighting for attention.

Bates and Diouf aside, there was much intrigue and interest in how the first team would shape up following a summer clear-out. The starting line-up featured seven new signings (Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Green, Austin, Norris and Varney) and Sam Byram, a young defender making his first-team debut at right-back. Aiden White, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio completed the team, with Tom Lees apparently having picked up a minor groin injury during the week. The choice of David Norris as captain sent a few eyebrows northwards, though it remains to be seen if this is a permanent fixture.

A team with so many new signings undoubtedly takes time to gel, a fact that was evident during opening period of the game. Shrewsbury played some good football and took control, threatening the Leeds goal several times only to be foiled by Paddy Kenny – who put in a solid and assured performance.

The opening goal changed the match and allowed the home side to take control. Kenny made an excellent goal-line save, before launching the ball up field where it eventually found the feet of debutant Rodolph Austin. The Jamaican produced a powerful long range effort which the Shrewsbury goalkeeper could only parry into the path of Luciano Becchio, who chested down and volleyed into the net.

Leeds doubled their advantage five minutes later, with Ross McCormack and Luke Varney breaking clear of the defence for the former to set up the latter for an easy open goal finish. McCormack was lively throughout the match, prompting chants of ‘sign him up’ as the striker’s contract talks remain in the balance. Varney will be delighted with a debut goal as he attempts to fulfil Warnock’s premise that he can fill the Robert Snodgrass shaped hole in the team.

As half-time approached, Leeds began to dominate and would largely keep control for the remainder of the match. Early goals could have arrived in the second half, most notably as Sam Byram fired across the six yard box and Captain Norris fired straight at the goalkeeper. Norris would not be denied however in the 65th minute, firing in a low volley to give Leeds a 3-0 lead.

The rout was completed with 20 minutes to go as a Shrews defender handled in the area whilst under pressure from the attacking Paul Green. Ross McCormack confidently side-footed the resulting penalty into the bottom corner to complete a 4-0 victory.

Young substitute Dominic Poleon was handed his Elland Road debut, as was the Sewer Rat (to a chorus of competing emotions) but neither had much time to make their mark as Leeds cruised through the final 10 minutes and booked their place in the second round.

Overall, a comfortable performance against a spirited Shrewsbury side and several assured performances from debutants such as Norris, Austin and Peltier provided hope that this might just be a season to remember.

  • TSS

    Felt like a friendly at times with fans in Kop keeping themselves amused. “South Stand give us a song” followed by boos when they didn’t respond was one of funniest chants I’ve ever heard – the stand was empty.

    Attempts to start songs for Diouf was pretty funny too “he drinks, he drives, he spits in people’s eyes” / “he’ll spit when he wants, he’ll spit when he wants…”

  • henrymouni

    Good start Matt, for the boys.
    Everton reps were there again watching Ross!!
    Bad news if/when he goes.

    Help: Did anyone listen on LUTV?
    Did you have low sound problems?
    Eddie Gray and ‘the fan’ were missing from the commentary – microphone problems??

    Thank you.

  • oldschoolbaby

    Diouf`s arrival is an experiment in behaviour modification which Leeds can`t really win. If being paid weekly, with the threat of not knowing where your wage packet is coming from if you`re sacked, induces him to behave himself then his previous antics become more inexcusable. If his antics continue he was never fit to wear the shirt. Of course us fans won`t care if his football propels us towards the PL. However, losing sight of the moral high ground isn`t a recommended strategy in the war against Bates.
    Couldn`t ask for more from a side that`s had such limited opportunity to gel. As ever the biggest positives can emerge from nowhere. If young Mr Byram can continue his current trajectory he will prove a major boost

  • HUnsletWhites

    Fair report Matt. I was late getting in so didn’t know about Diouf signing until he came on and the sight and surprise of him in a Leeds shirt made me feel sick. Warnock cannot justify this no matter how he dresses it up and will prove to be his Achilles Heel if he doesn’t ditch him. As for the real team I thought they desperately lacked someone in the heart of midfield to run the show (Green and Norris average, Varney OK, but Austen full of potential) while up front they need a proper striker, not someone who spends half his time falling over and running round like a slow Lee Chapman. Highlight of the game the fact that young Sam can actually play football. Bates out (& Diouff with him)!

    • Flipp-in-Pop-It-Bruva

      My late dad would be spinning in his grave and really really hated Diouff. He hated the spoilt brat attitude of someone that can spit in a childs face. However, lets not forget what a wonderful job warnock is doing with such limited funds. Diouf was magnificent against us for doncaster and was best player on the pitch. With leeds lack of funds he is a necesarry evil if we are to get promoted. Would you take promotion if diouff scored the winner? Course you would. We all would. Lets forget he isnt 19 anymore he is in his 30’s maybe he had matured and bit like Bowyer did at birmingham [Bowyer in euope stamp on head?] In warnock i completely trust genius manager and particularly like how he turned better clubs down to sort the mess out. Not for Bates, Not for Himself but for the fans. No wonder he has so many promotions. MOT : )

  • henrymouni

    Diouf’s is a difficult one.
    I don’t have a problem with him just now.
    We have no money to buy anybody, until Ross moves on – hope he doesn’t though!
    Doiouf could be the bad boy we need to keep the pot boiling.
    According to NW he ‘is a good lad’ and he has had strong words with him about his behaviour.
    Could be another Vinny.
    It is a long time since opposing fans booed any of our players – like in the ‘good old days’.
    He may end up being a fans favourite?
    We do lack a spark!

  • NottsWhite

    Diouf is pond scum as an individual however given the current finance situation he may be the best thats available. Hate to suggest it but if he keeps in shape and sorts his head out (highly unlikely) he is more than capable at this level.

  • Pat G

    Rodolph Austin was voted man of the match by the sponsors on Saturday and when he collected his award he let it out that ‘Rudy’ was his nickname so lets here some Rudy…eh, Rudy….eh, Rudy….eh, chants on Saturday against Wolves and let him know we love him……….

  • NottsWhite

    Diouf is pond scum as an individual however given the current financial situation he may be the best we can get. Hate to say it but if he can keep in shape and keep his head in check (highly unlikely) he is more than capable at this level

  • Matthew

    I left the game happy.

    Wolves next, think we’l win this easily. They struggled against Aldershot, and are there for the taking. 3 points here we come.

  • Neil1992

    What is wrong with people?? Diouf is one of ours now. Get behind him. He only deserves criticism if his behaviour is unacceptable whilst being at the club. Give the guy a chance. I was at the game on saturday, and I don’t believe he was being booed – I think the fans were saying ‘Diooouuff’. When he came to Elland Road with Doncaster last season he was the best player on the field with a mile. He could be a very good signing in my opinion. I’ve been a season ticket holder for 25 years and I must admit, the Leeds supporters over the last 12 months have begun to annoy me regarding negative chanting during games. Lets get behind the 11 on the field!! MOT

  • KG

    Why the blue stripe on the chest?

    • TSS

      It’s a training top mate. Must have been when he was warming up.

  • LUFCObiwan

    Never did I think the day would come that I saw such scum pulling on a Leeds shirt. Those of you that are defending this pond life and “comparing” him to Vinnie should be ashamed of yourselves. He is not a “bad boy” or a “pantomime villain”-he is a vile human being who leaves destruction and hatred in his wake. 7 years season ticket holder, I will NEVER set foot inside Elland Road whilst that total and utter cunt is playing for us.

  • Yorkshire Knight

    No problem with Diouf – good to have a player who winds up the opposition fans. He’s certainly not the most unpleasant individual we’ve had at Leeds – he’s a pantomine villain compared with real low life like Lee Bowyer (who was accepted here because, despite being a vile human being, he was a very good footballer.)

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