Clean sheet denied by officials

A record all-seater attendance at Carrow Road reminded the travelling Leeds United fans that this was another team who hated us for no particular reason. We didn’t have to wait long for a touching rendition of ‘we all hate Leeds scum’ alongside other popular favourites such as ‘you dirty northern b**tards*’ and ‘dirty Leeds’.

Quite why a team from Norfolk with no geographical significance to Leeds and no real history against us holds this much contempt for the Whites, is anyones guess? But the hostility Leeds receive in places such as Norwich always boosts the atmosphere and this was no exception as the two sets of fans exchanged pleasantries throughout.

The match was just as frantically contested too and it started at a rapid pace with both teams attacking from the off. For Leeds, Bradley Johnson did nothing to boost his market value as he miscued wildly from range, whilst Jonny Howson also saw his shot drift away from goal.

When an advancing Luciano Becchio was hacked down on the edge of the area, the referee played advantage and as our Argentinian hit-man pulled himself up, Max Gradel fired low from the edge of the area, beating a poor Norwich keeper to give Leeds United the lead. 1-0.

Leeds gradually took control of the game with Max Gradel looking impressive and the midfield dominating the contest. Midway through the second half however, Norwich were on the attack with Grant Holt. Alex Bruce put in a clumsy challenge on the Norwich forward, giving the home side a free-kick and injuring himself in the process.

Whilst the Norwich fans made their feelings towards Bruce clear, Chris Martin lined up a free-kick which was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

From there until half time it was almost entirely Leeds. Gradel twice had shots saved by the keeper, whilst Jonny Howson attempted to take on the entire defence and walk it into the net and Becchio saw his glancing header go wide.

At half-time, Leeds had been by far the better team. Failure to capitalise further on such dominance must have been a big talking point for Simon Grayson, whilst Paul Lambert will have been trying to figure out how to stop Gradel wondering by his full-back without breaking a sweat.

Norwich improved in the second half and went close when Chris Martin hit the woodwork and Grant Holt was denied by Kasper Schmeichel. As Norwich pushed, Leeds tried to capitalise on the counter-attack but the final delivery continually evaded Snodgrass and Gradel.

Despite Norwich’s improvements, Schmeichel was at his best and never looked like being beaten so Norwich cleverly took him out of the equation by throwing him to the floor from a corner as Barnett headed the equaliser. 1-1

It was the cherry on top of all our recent injustices. Twice we’d contested the referee’s decisions not to punish players for viciously assaulting Luciano Becchio, and twice we’d been quoted FIFA rules that claim the FA ‘can’t re-referee games.’ Clearly this only applies to Leeds United however, as Norwich had just had a red card successfully overturned on Grant Holt – is that not re-refereeing?

I don’t wish to sound bitter and vindictive, but I am, so that’s how it comes across.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not blaming Norwich here. I’m complaining about the dreadful standard of refereeing we’re subjected to week after week. Norwich fans should be able to sympathise to an extent as they had Holt sent off last week – a decision which undoubtedly changed the game.

Leeds meanwhile saw Hull and Cardiff get away with blatant red card decisions, which the referee clearly missed on both occasions. Yet, when we appeal to the FA we’re told the referee saw the incidents and felt an elbow to the face, and a potentially career ending lunge were both fair challenges?

And yet again, the referee and the other officials cost Leeds as they failed to spot a push on Kasper Schmeichel that left him sat down as Norwich City denied us of two points. Admittedly, I missed the shove as I was watching the flight of the ball, but as a spectator, that’s what I pay to watch! The referee and linesman are paid individuals that are supposed to be watching the players – especially from a corner when there is always shoving going on! They have no excuse whatsoever.

Anyway, back on level terms and Leeds tried to get back in front but the final ball continued to escaped us and Norwich sensed an opportunity to rub salt into the wounds. Hoolahan – who had come on a sub just after the hour mark – was a particular nuisance to us but despite chances for both sides, the game remained level and Leeds were left to bemoan another poor display from the officials.

Overall, it was an excellent match. Real end-to-end stuff with the emphasis on attack and free-flowing football. Leeds really should have killed it off in the first half and rendered poor decisions from the officials irrelevant but they failed to do so and it ultimately cost us two points.

TSS man of the match

Max Gradel was the stand out man, but he was brilliant and infuriating in equal measures, often taking too long on the ball and not shooting quickly enough when presented with an opening. George McCartney continues to impress whilst Kasper Schmeichel was back to his old self and truly deserved a clean sheet. Overall, the officials had the biggest impact on the game so maybe they should get it?