leeds fansFirstly, I’d like to apologise for my absence of away articles in recent weeks. Stresses on my university timetable has meant attending the extremely exciting matches has been harder than anticipated. But now I’m back, and by word have I missed it (hmmm).

So I begin. Since my absence we have seen little, other than the confirmation that Leeds are staying down and Neil Warnock finally, after months of suggestions, taking gardening leave on his tractor in Cornwall. The post-Warnock Leeds era started now and Charlton were our first ‘victims’. The appointment of Neil Redfearn would have surprised few, in his last term he was rather lacklustre, but did enough to steady the ship and guide us to mid-table mediocrity, the exact same role he has been assigned this season.

Games in London are always my favourite, of course I’m being biased, they mean I can have a lie in and not pay train fares, but the atmosphere of football mixed with the thousands of bewildered tourists wondering what the fuss is about is a spectacle that I am splendidly fond of. So the drinking began in Kings Cross with the hundreds of other travelling whites, then onwards, snaking our way down to South East London’s delightful Charlton.

I arrived at Charlton around 2pm with numerous other Leeds fans, but even my slight tipsy nature and the beaming April sunshine could do much to brighten the dreariness of the place. We found ourselves thrust into ‘The Anglican’ tavern, designated for the away fans. The pub was packed with Leeds, every corner crammed with excited supporters optimistically excited despite the game being of nothingness. However, the beer was cheap and the laughs were aplenty, exactly the reason Leeds make away days so fun.

With the game coming upon us, we arrived at the Valley, which, despite its Premier League history does look much like a lower league ground, a little dated and quite rustic. I personally loved it, the history of the place was much welcomed in a season that has seen such standard new form grounds. The line-up was largely unchanged, only Aidan White coming in for Varney, Redfearn realising that Leeds simply do not have strength in depth. The biggest cheer, ironically, came from the announcer reading the name ‘Andy Hughes’ out, the old dog not forgotten for his passionate performances at Elland Road and the face he’s Leeds through and through (even wearing the black armband of remembrance).

So, the game kicked off and rightly so the Leeds United fans turned their backs in defiance that Kevin Loftus and Christopher Speight’s memories are still not saluted on the field of play. After the singing subsided the Leeds faithful took control of off the field matters, vociferously announcing their arrival into London. On the field however the seasonal pattern endured, hoof here, hoof there, and hoof everywhere. The first 30 minutes or so were yet again largely forgettable, not one shot is worth commenting on, this didn’t dampen the Leeds fans spirits, “we all love Leeds” enduring all the time. The fact Leeds United have failed to score a first half goal since Boxing Day is beyond belief, until you watch them that is, once more we lacked prowess, we lacked a striker, we lacked the passion, commitment and most of all the confidence to take on a shot and to attack. I may be being slightly harsh on certain individuals, but the team as a whole is lacking a spark.

Charlton threatened the Leeds goal some more, and Paddy Kenny (who clearly gave up the season months ago looking at his gut) flapped at a ball and was fortunate to see the Leeds defence scramble the ball away. The half time came soon enough, no clear cut chances, a little bit of pressure and only the Leeds fans enjoying the day out.

It has become the new habit of Leeds United to concede early in the second half or extremely late, so the 48th minute goal by Jackson (courtesy of a blocked Hughesy shot) was really no surprise. The Leeds players were all clearly still in the dressing room, taking in the inspirational words of Redders’ and Naylor. Leeds were once again away from home and behind. Hardly a surprise…

The team did respond though, and unlike Warnock’s Leeds, we seemed to want to get back into it, pressure on the Charlton defence was building, Leeds were finding gaps, and when Tonge’s blocked shot found Morison time stopped as his shot somehow found the outside of the post instead of nestling into the bottom corner, lady luck, where art thou?

Leeds continued to pressure Charlton, and Redfearn responded with a well-timed substitution, bringing on Varney and taking off White. It worked, a corner came in and Charlton failed to clear, Varney somehow found the net and Leeds were level, the fans went ballistic and we were looking at a point away. A nice sweetener for the travelling hordes.

However life with Leeds United is never simple, and with the clock ticking down Leeds found themselves under pressure from a home side that have seen better fortune away than at the Valley. Peltier was then untimely taken off due to injury and Austin found himself out of position in the centre back position. The inevitable then happened, a crossed ball found the Obika who headed home, and with seconds left on the clock, Leeds United had once again thrown points away. Charlton 2 – 1.

Apart from the ever so slight threat of relegation, I see there being no panic at Elland Road, a string of defeats are never good, but I think it is important now for the owners to bring in a new man, someone who can look into the club, get a feel for the place, the players he wants and does not, and experience Elland Road as a stadium and the fans as people. We need to build as a club and build quickly. We have rid ourselves of the parasitic Bates, now let us give GFH the chance to bring in their man, invest correctly and have a serious crack at pushing for promotion in 2013/14.

And as to relegation, don’t worry. Another win will see us home. (I hope)

Follow me on twitter @adamgeary1. MOT