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Nothings going our way at the moment.
The best 45 minutes of football since before Xmas and at the end of it Rennie gives a dodgy penalty and the game drifts away.
Promising team selection at the start. Formation back to 4-4-2 with Viduka and Smith upfront, Matteo back where he belongs alongside Caldwell at the back and Domi replacing Harte in defence.
It made an immediate difference. Viduka was getting the ball fired at him from all sorts of angles, but he holds it up well and with Smith up with him wasn't constantly outnumbered. Viduka's first touch is miles better than Smith's and with some confidence that we'd hold onto the ball, Pennant, Milner and Bakke were much quicker to get forward in support. Smith was able to play facing goal and linked up well with Pennant at time, but we never got the killer cross in to make a goal. Closest we game was when Milner headed against the bar from a free-kick.
It wasn't all plain sailing of course, one great saving header from Caldwell saved us after Villa had hit the bar and Angel took to long when in space on the edge of the area and got crowded out. However, in general we were the better team in the first half and looked more likely to score.
Unfortunately the ref then intevened, firstly Mellberg got away with a tackle on Milner that would probably have got him booked if he hadn't been already, then soon after Vassell out-paced Matteo to a through-ball and tumbled as Domi came across the area and tackled him. We were 100 yards away, but it looked like the ball changed direction from when we were as Domi made the tackle and Domi's reaction also showed that it wasn't a pen. Maybe Rennie also thought so cos he just booked Domi who was clearly the last man when he made the tackle. Angel but the penalty away and all our good work had amounted to nothing.
Apart from the dodgy decision, the penalty also showed that Villa had one great advantage over us, pace in attack. The only time we got behind the defence, Viduka had to hold up and fell over whilst trying to beat the defender again. Viduka showed his frustration by throwing the ball at the ref as he blew for the half-time whistle and was lucky to not get punished.
Second half we battled on but never made many real chances ' the penalty seemed to have knocked the stuffing out of us and a second goal from poor marking form a free-kick effectively finished the game. Viduka hit the bar from 30 yards and Lennon came on as sub (surprisingly for Pennant) and had a deflected cross well saved by Sorenson.
The other results went for us and the gap is still bridgeable but we are running out of game. Stating the obvious but a win against Wolves on Tuesday is imperative. Play like we did first half and we have a chance.
Robinson / Kelly 6
Domi 6 - Unlucky with penalty, not the best defender in the world but probably an improvement on Harte. With Cameroon out of ANC hopefully Olembe will be back soon.
Matteo and Caldwell 7 - A good performance from Caldwell on his debut and Dom looked much more assured in his correct position.
Pennant 6.5 - Surprised he was subbed, looked a threat as ever running at them first half.
Johnson 7 - A better game. Frustratingly inconsistent at the moment.
Bakke 6 - Got forward to support attack well first half - faded.
Milner 6 - Quieter than of late - but worked his b*llocks off down the left side.
Smith 7 - 100% effort like you'd expect.
Viduka 7.5 - Made a difference and worked very hard, sliding tackles and a bit of passion when chucking ball at ref.
A bit of aggro in the first half behind the goal. No idea what started it, but then neither did the 20 or so muppets who came across from the side to join in. Took the police and stewards a good 5 minutes or so to get some sort of order. Looks like we may go down fighting in more ways than one.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 09/02/2004.
Mark Viduka was the subject of so much speculation while the transfer window was open that it might come as a surprise to learn that he never intended to jump a sinking ship.
This result confirmed it is all hands to the pumps at Leeds and Viduka is keen to do his share of the work. On Saturday he looked sharp and determined after three weeks on compassionate leave in Australia.
"I was happy when the transfer window shut and I was still a Leeds player," he said. "I had a couple of options to go elsewhere. One of them was Middlesbrough but I preferred to stay and help out the team. It's a very disappointing time for Leeds and the team needs a lot of help."
Copy from Football Unlimited of 08/02/2004.
Leeds United have had precious few opportunities in a nightmare season to complain with any justification about not getting the run of the ball - much of their predicament has been their own making.
But for once they can feel somewhat hard done by. A contentious penalty changed the whole course of this game, condemning them to a sixth successive Premiership defeat and making the job of staying up that much harder.
That fact that Leeds did not lose any more ground on the teams around them, plus a sympathy vote delivered by former manager David O'Leary, did little to disguise the disappointment of finishing second best yet again.