Ipsbitch Ipsquitch Ipswich Town 3-2 Leeds United

It should have been the end-of-season party that sent a buoyant Leeds United into the Play-Off Semi-Finals confident in the knowledge that although our record is not great, things would be different this time.

Instead the travelling hordes who made the bank holiday trip to Suffolk witnessed the festering of fear, the advent of anger and the incessant worry that accompanies a winless run that has now lasted four games.

The one change in the line-up was the enforced introduction of Kemar Roofe in place of the deliberately deceptive Patrick Bamford and after a string of frustrating cameo appearances, if anyone needed a confidence-boosting goal it was the former Oxford United man.

When the Whites were awarded an 80th minute penalty, it seemed sensible that Roofe be the man to take it, an opportunity to get back among the goals, seal a 3-2 victory and send us into the play-offs in spirited mood.

One Beckham-esque slip later Roofe’s confidence no doubt slipped further into the mire and Ipswich had a free out. Although Klich has been scoring from 20 or 30 yards, there are many today who feel he should have had a go from 12.

Things had not begun well for the Yorkshire men, Flynn Downes putting the convincingly relegated Tractor Boys into the lead on the half-hour mark. Casilla’s Charge of the Light Brigade on Colin Quaner very nearly ended his game early and conceded the free-kick that led to an inexplicably unmarked Downes poking home the opener.

Despite some uncharacteristically fragmented play, Leeds somehow managed to draw level on the stroke of half-time, our only ever-present starter this season Mateusz Klich crashing home a low effort following a squared ball from Luke Ayling, but the jubilance only lasted the length of the half-time break.

You would have been forgiven for thinking that Bielsa had ordered another magnanimous concession as Andre Dozzell waltzed straight through an acquiescing Leeds defence to regain the lead for the home side.

Phil Hay has become very familiar with the word ‘CHANCE’ this season and even in this game, Leeds created enough opportunities to have 27 shots, but as they consistently went begging, the travelling support was left grateful for West Brom’s ineptitude allowing them to hold on to 3rd place.

Until, that is, the functional yet undazzling Stuart Dallas managed to bundle home a 76th minute equaliser following Kemar Roofe agonisingly hitting the crossbar. The Leeds support must have been left wishing the latter had found the net as his next act was the confidence-sapping spot kick debacle.

With Kemar’s effort closer to the roof of the stand than the net, the visitors looked set to hold on to the point that was required to ensure their 3rd place finish, but a piece of diabolical defending lifted right out of the 2014-15 playbook would see them leave Portman Road empty-handed.

Chalobah’s aimless chip forward appeared to be dropping on the edge of the area for the defence to sweep up on their way to mounting a late push on the three points, but the pairing of Silvestri Casilla and Ayling Bellusci took the To Me-To You act a bit too far, allowing Colin Quaner t0 roll home the winner.

A goal that left @LUFC_Goals ‘fucking speechless’ left basically everyone else ‘fucking fuming’.

Twitter, normally so calm and reasoned, was awash with the screen-tapping frustration that would not have been out of place during the Bates-Cellino-GFH era where it was at times the only recourse or therapy available.

Of course, there were many voices summoning their relentless positivity and bemoaning anyone’s need for negative orgones, but to borrow another Peep Show reference, this is all pub talk and the significance of this loss will only become apparent when analysed in the cold light of day.

With our tactics so focused on relentless pressing and attacking football, yet at present yielding little return, Leeds simply cannot afford the kind of slapstick defending that allowed Ipswich to score today’s winner.

Whatever our record against the teams around us, it has been these banana-skin fixtures that have ultimately cost us automatic promotion. We smashed West Brom 4-0 at home yet lost to 10-man Wigan. We put three past champions Norwich at Carrow Road, yet whimpered in defeat at Loftus Road, Griffin Park and today at Portman Road.

The twelve points squandered in those four fixtures would actually have clinched the league title, but even more worryingly, we have the poorest form of all four sides in the play-off positions.

The Bamford suspension, Roofe’s combination of rustiness and self-doubt, Pablo’s late-season slump and the apparent inability to see out a game against ten men means that the worries are swirling like a Monday morning hangover.

The exquisitely detailed and irrepressible @lufcstats was quick to remind us that back in 2006 we went into the Play-Offs on the back of an utterly dreadful run and made it all the way to the final.

His intention I’m sure was to put minds at ease, but that heart-wrenching Watford defeat still rankles as one of my lowest ebbs as a Leeds supporter. It was like watching Mufasa clinging onto the cliff in the Lion King, only for Scar to cruelly discard him to a further thirteen years of lower league abyss.

What grounds for optimism? is the obvious question that lingers its way north in the East Anglian air.

Well, our record against the teams we’ll face is good (W4 L1 D1) which is a plus, but as it’s Derby we’ll meet first there will be the endlessly mind-numbing Spygate reference to endure as an anecdote to how up for this The Rams will be.

The return to goalscoring form of Mateusz Klich is another welcome development, while the fact we have no major fresh injury concerns or suspensions following this weekend’s match is to be hailed as a plus. Small mercies.

Let’s hope our defence operating as efficiently as Marcelo Bielsa was able to pronounce our opponents’ name last weekend is a temporary measure and that the players can use this next week to rediscover the sparkle that lit up Elland Road the last time Derby rolled into town.

The phrase ‘strap yourselves in’ is often over-used, but in this case, it’s very apt. There will be ups and downs before the proverbial sun sets.

PS Has anyone checked on Danny lately?