Before I start my blog today I am skipping to the end product. Disgraceful Leeds United, treating both the fans and the FA Cup with such disrespect. 14 away games fans had to attend to get a ticket for today with some people up at 3.30 am and others arriving here the day before showing commitment, which is something the team didn’t do. Consensus amongst the fans at the game was that the fans should be reimbursed by the club! The one thing I will say is that Sutton thoroughly deserved their win as they were the better team on the day and up for it. I can accept us losing but what I cannot accept is the way we lost it! Shame on you Leeds!
After only having four hours sleep due to waiting for a phone call from the out of hours doctor that didn’t come, I was up at 5.00 am and sat in McDonalds at Elland Road very bleary eyed by 6.00 am. At least I knew I could sleep on the coach. After talking to my friend Sue for a while we both fell asleep and woke up with a start as we pulled into Watford Gap for a short stop. After that we headed to Epsom for our pub stop before getting to Sutton in plenty time for the 2.00 pm kick off. It had forecast torrential rain for the start of the game so I asked the home stewards who were waiting for us as we got off the coach, if I could take my Leeds United Golf umbrella in with me. They were very helpful and went to ask the question from a head steward and said there would be no issues with me taking it into the ground.
There was a nice feel about the place as we headed into the non-league ground. Although my friends Carole and Margaret were at the game Leeds played there in 1970, it was my first visit to the ground as I didn’t start going away regularly until 1971. Plenty of Leeds fans had brought their flags with them and they were all hung around the side of the pitch. It was a tight enclosed ground with a 3G turf but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as bad as the old plastic pitches that we used to visit for example Oldham. That was always a bad ground for us to visit!
The team today was a big disappointment as Monk made 10 changes. As a traditionalist, this was a disgrace with not taking the FA Cup seriously as we should have been putting out a strong team in my opinion. In my mind winning breeds winning and we would be lucky to win this one. The team was Silvestri, Cooper, Denton, Phillips, Coyle, McKay, Whitehouse, Dallas, Antonsson, Doukara and Grimes. Subs were Sacko for Dallas, Wilks for Doukara and Roofe for Whitehouse. Attendance was 4997 with approx. 774 from Leeds.
The rain started right on kick off but luckily although fine, wasn’t the torrential rain that we’d been expecting. As someone pointed out to me as I was stood right behind the net, if I put my brolly up then those behind me wouldn’t be able to see. If the rain got that bad I was going to move to the side but didn’t need to put my brolly up in the end.
Sutton were up for it from the word go with Ian Baird an ex-Leeds player being their coach. There were only a few minutes on the clock when we thought Sutton had taken the lead as the ball hit the back of the net in front of us. As Sutton fans were celebrating the linesman had his flag up for offside, which was apparently only millimetres out. If we thought that would gee Leeds up we were sadly mistaken. We couldn’t get into the game as the team struggled to get any momentum going and showing they weren’t used to playing together. We did manage to get a shot in from Dallas which the goalie saved but I think that was our only chance in the first half. Sutton had a few saves from Silvestri that prevented them from taking an early lead. We couldn’t believe it at half time when Sutton watered the plastic pitch!
If we thought the first half was bad, the second half didn’t get any better. We had one tame shot on goal from Grimes but we still didn’t look like we could score in a month of Sundays! To make matters worse, Sutton were bearing down on our goal and I thought, what on earth is Silvestri doing at the edge of the box as he collided with Coyle. As Coyle scrambled to get up he inadvertently brought a Sutton player down to give away a penalty. The ball was sent into the bottom right corner, whilst Silvestri was sent the wrong way. To make matters worse Cooper was sent off for a second bookable offence reducing us to 10 men not far from the end of the game. Stats at the end of the game said we had over 60% possession! We all looked at each other and said no way did we do that or put it this way didn’t do anything with that possession!
There were a lot of angry Leeds fans at the end. The amount of effort put into getting there by fans only to be treated to a reserve game rather than an FA Cup game was rightly condemned by everyone around me. As I said we can take losing but it is the manner of losing that we cannot take. There was no pride for the shirt or effort to look like we wanted to win the game. As Leeds sold Alex Mowatt on Friday and with many fans saying we didn’t need him, well today showed that he should not have gone! He was head and shoulders above the majority on the pitch today and I am positive he will go on to have a good career at Barnsley and good luck to him.
We have now got a difficult week with two more away games at Blackburn ad Huddersfield facing us. We have only two days of the transfer window left but I have no idea how this will pan out. After today’s disastrous result it is important we get something out of these two games. Forgive me if I don’t feel as positive as some who say the play offs are guaranteed. I don’t see it that way as there is a long way to go and I only hope we don’t self-destruct in the meantime. Obviously time will tell and I take each game as it comes. Admittedly there will be a lot of players coming back in to the team and I’m hoping they can pick up where they left it. The only good thing about the defeat is the fact that Ipswich will be a Saturday game – TV keep away from us we don’t want any more changes! See you at Blackburn – LUFC – Marching on Together!