Davide Somma

Davide Somma celebrates scoring against Milwall

Living a fair schlep away from Leeds means I don’t get to as many games as I’d like. Saturday however provided a perfect opportunity for me to travel up for the second home game of the season. Millwall did well in the play-offs to get themselves promoted but I can’t help but feel as if they’ve snuck up behind us. They’ve been somewhat of a bogey team over the last couple of years and I was hoping to escape them this season. It was not to be and a 12:30 kick off meant I was in the car by 8am ready for the journey to Elland Road.

A mixture of excitement and nerves had been building during the week but try as I might to remain positive I couldn’t help but worry about the potential outcome. As desperate as I’m sure most fans were to see us chalk up our first three points of the season, before kick-off I would have happily taken a draw.

Taking my seat quite early I watched Kasper Schmeichel being put through his paces in the warm up. He looked raring to go and each impressive reaction save he made drew a cheer from the Kop. I couldn’t help but feel that we’d probably be relying on him once again.

Elland Road started to fill and as the sun beamed down overhead kick-off arrived. As in the Nottingham Forrest game our start was shaky to say the least and after fifteen minutes the worst happened, Millwall scored – in the most farcical fashion. Fede Bessone had the ball at his feet on the left touchline, heading towards his own goal and with most of Elland Road expecting him to put it into row Z (looking back at the replay he could just of easily squared it five yards to Neill Collins), he inexplicably turned 180 to hoof the ball against the pressuring Steve Morison. The bounce wasn’t favourable and Morison got past him to loft the ball into the area, where Richard Naylor outmuscled Millwall forward Kevin Lisbie only to head past a bewildered Schmeichel and into his own net.

Soon enough after Leeds got their act together and some good passing in midfield combined with some exciting trickery from Sanchez Watt, saw us start to create some chances. A great move and some neat footwork from Jonny Howson saw him hit the post. We forced a few saves from Millwall ‘keeper David Forde and we had another great chance when Neill Collins leapt to meet a corner only to head wide when it seemed easier to score. The equaliser soon came though. Some brilliant midfield interchange led to the ball being laid off by Luciano Becchio to an on-rushing Lloyd Sam to slot home from just inside the area. Leeds continued to knock on the door desperate to take the lead before half-time but Millwall were hanging on with some luck and went into half time level.

In the break I began to hope that we would be able to continue the pressure and take the lead. As the players took to the field for the second half, the noise in Elland Road increased. Leeds started quite brightly creating a few chances but nothing really clear cut. We were retaining possession well but I feared the longer we went without scoring the less likely we would be able to keep up the pressure or even worse that we would leave ourselves open on the counter. Millwall did break a couple of times, but Schmeichel was able to stifle their most dangerous attack, rushing out and making himself big.

The turnaround came when, with fifteen minutes left, Simon Grayson brought on Davide Somma for Fede Bessone, an ambitious change which saw Bradley Johnson move back to help out in defence. I have to admit that I questioned it at the time, both me and my dad wondering whether Somma could really affect play enough to snatch all three points. Myself and any other doubters were quickly silenced (or rather sent into delirium) when within five minutes of coming on, the South African striker scored with a typical poacher’s goal; Sanchez Watt, receiving the ball after Forde flapped at a cross, able to square from inside the area for Somma to sweep home from no more than ten yards.

With Leeds ahead and Elland Road buzzing, it looked as if we would get a deserved win as long as we could hold on defensively. Millwall tested Schmeichel instantly from the restart though, reminding the Leeds players to stay switched on. The tempo slowed slightly but we did well to retain most of the possession with few scares. A chance to extend our lead wasn’t taken when Watt crossed deep for Sam, who headed against the post only for goalkeeper Forde to somehow scramble the ball away when it bounced back across the face of goal. The icing on the cake arrived in stoppage time though when Howson played a pinpoint long ball from deep right to the feet of Somma who, with the option of Becchio to his right, dribbled into the area and wrong footed the defender with a neat step-over before smashing home into the top corner. A dream debut for Somma left Leeds fans celebrating long after the final whistle blew.

I left Elland Road absolutely delighted (and shockingly a little sunburnt!)

As far as a pick for man of the match is concerned, the obvious choice would be Somma for his impact and two well taken goals which won us the game. However it was a fantastic team performance with Becchio working tirelessly as usual, Lloyd Sam was a constant threat driving forward, Howson and Kilkenny dominated the centre while Sanchez Watt provided lots of creativity and energy.

If we can perform this well consistently we will be fine in this league. MOT!