This one was going to be a late set off and I was lucky that I was being picked up by a friend who was doing the driving. We had a good journey there and were able to park up opposite the ground albeit with a ten minute walk away. With it being close to kick off the early arrivals had cadged the spaces nearer to the main road.
As we approached the ground we were shown where to go to our stand and found ourselves in the middle of loads of Leeds fans all arriving together. We had to walk down a path with a field next to it the length of the side stand to get to the other end where we were based. As there had been heavy rain all day and there was lots of mud and puddles about we stuck to the path. Despite getting their late we got in before the start, hung my flag up and then told we could sit anywhere! After seeing Phil Cresswell outside I found Mouse who I hadn’t seen in years and it was good to see him, although only for a couple of minutes.
The team today was Silvestri, Denton, Mowatt, Antonsson, Cooper, Jansson, Dallas, Grimes, Berardi, Doukara and Phillips. Subs were Coyle for Berardi, Roofe for Doukara and Bartley for Cooper. Attendance was 7,973 with 1,414 Leeds fans.
The game kicked off at a fast pace but after an initial burst from Leeds, we found we were on the back foot. For some reason we could not get our passes to work as Cambridge attacked us time and time again. I thought that it would take us about 20 minutes to settle into the game but the longer it went one you knew we were struggling. We had no shape and didn’t look like we had any tactics, being all over the place. The referee looked like he was going to book everyone in our team after booking three in quick succession. He was very lenient with Cambridge in comparison, letting many things go and he kept the book in his pocket for them. His decision making was terrible and after he gave Cambridge a free kick we ended up going a goal down after 25 minutes. I’m not sure if the ball hit someone on the way into the penalty area and changed direction, as I was expecting it to be on the same side as we were stood. Somehow it went across to the other side of the goal where their man beat our defence to put a low ball into the goal via the near post with Silvestri rooted to the spot. Oh dear this didn’t bode well especially as after their goal they could have had a couple more. The Leeds fans got more and quieter as the reality of another game against a lower league club looked to be heading in the wrong direction. The ball wasn’t running for us either but we were struggling with the pace of Cambridge and kept getting turned inside out.
The lads next to me said they were going to go to the pub at the opposite side of the ground and watch it there at half time. I did say it could be a game of two halves again though. I must mention Bob from the White Rose branch who had got out of his sick bed to attend the game. After doing a fantastic 60 years of following Leeds United he reckons this may be his last season of attending games. Whether it is or it isn’t that is a brilliant record and well done to him. It puts the team to shame when fans are making this sort of commitment for little reward. Just before half time Mowatt got hold of the ball and sent a shot soaring into their penalty area which their goalie had to tip over the bar. Mowatt had been one of the few trying in the first half. I knew what was coming when the players were booed off the pitch at half time again, although I didn’t. One player we didn’t expect to see again in the second half was Doukara who had been atrocious, either giving the ball away or every time he got the ball he couldn’t control it. We were all glad that the whistle blew to end our first half misery. We also started feeling the cold at that time.
We walked to the opposite end of the stand to where we came in and found it relatively empty at that end and those queuing for the tea bar were pleasantly surprised at how quick they got served. Whilst we were stood there first aiders came past with a Leeds lad who had blood trickling down his face from a head wound. As everything had been so quiet we couldn’t understand what had happened but just hoped the lad would be okay. Someone said they would sub Mowatt in the second half and I said no way as he was one of the few actually doing something. My judgement was spot on in the second half as he was involved in one build up and scored our second.
As we went back to the stand the only sub made was Coyle for Berardi. At the start of this half we immediately got stuck in and started to apply some pressure and it didn’t take long before a great cross from Mowatt was headed into the net by Dallas to give us some hope. It was a quick turn around again as a corner was headed on by Jansson and Mowatt put this into the net to put us into the lead! We suddenly found out feet and even more so when Roofe came on and were then able to see the end of the game out comfortably. Cambridge probably ran out of steam too but it meant that Leeds were drawn away against Wimbledon or Sutton in the next round which means the Forest game at home on 28th January will be changed.
We were very lucky that once we hit the A1 that there was very little traffic on the road so we had a good run home singing to music all the way back. I thought getting up at 6.30 am was early but my friend had to be up at 5.30 am; the things we do for Leeds!
We head into Friday’s game at home to Derby, another televised game, without the services of Jansson who got booked in the first half. This means he is one game off activating a clause for a new contract although I’ve no idea of the ins and outs of it. It’s also looking like being extremely cold so wrap up warm everyone and safe travels. See you there – LUFC – Marching on Together!