Its been a long summer and a shit world cup but today it all starts again. The brand new N Power Championship kicked off the night before with Watford picking up an early season win over newly promoted Norwich. Everyone else kicked off at 3pm today but thanks to the joys of televisions obsession with Leeds United, the BBC were showing our opener live at 5:15.
After parking up at a friend’s and having a wander down to Elland Road we were set. I noticed that the Leeds team coach was parked up in the car park so for this season the players must be getting brought to the ground.
Another change at ER this season is the inclusion of smoking areas around the back of the stand…a Shawshank-like caged and barred area for fans to indulge in the demon weed sticks!
Into the ground and off I popped to slip a cheeky fiver on Becchio to score first and Leeds to win 1-0…
Up to my seat and a good hello and catch up with all the lads who are there week in, week out…and who can forget the hilarious rendition of “I Could Be So Good For You” on the big screen as an advert for one of the sponsors…and then we were set for football.
Leeds were without Kisnorbo, new-signing Paynter and Snodgrass through injury as well as missing Gradel and Somma through injury. Grayson gave starts to Paul Connolly, Kasper Schmeichel, Lloyd Sam, Fede Bessone and Sanchez Watt.
Leeds started quite brightly and looked like they could carve an opener but when Derby pushed forwards, Leeds’ defence looked weak. Our centre backs of Collins and Naylor looked slow and unable to make a good challenge as Derby fired off a couple of long range efforts.
But it was Derby and ex Leeds man Rob Hulse who opened the scoring on 13 minutes. As had been happening, no-one picked up Commons as he made a run through the middle and a pass out to the right put in Hulse who blasted the ball straight through Schmeichel. To his credit, Hulse didn’t celebrate the goal in front of the Kop and stayed quiet even though all his team-mates were diving all over him.
As usual, Leeds cranked it up a notch after going 1-0 down and within 2 minutes we were back on level terms. Some good work from Jonny Howson through the middle and a slotted ball square, through two defenders and to an awaiting Becchio set up an easy tap-in.
The second goal just wouldn’t come for Leeds with Naylor having a good effort hit the crossbar.
Unfortunately, Leeds let Derby in again. Bessone went walkabout and left Lloyd Sam to defend and, being on the back foot, dropped a player from behind in the penalty area. The referee pointed to the spot and Commons slotted Derby back into the lead at 2-1.
Leeds continued to press and a Collins head could only find the crossbar again.
Kasper Schmeichel was having a good game and denied anything that came at him.
At half time, the new on pitch game was quality. Whoever gets picked out gets given £25 and a chance to lob the ball into the net for £50 then moving back and winning more money…but the goon they picked out stepped up and hit the crossbar with the easiest shot…Doh!
Moving into the second half, Leeds pressed again but to no avail. Derby could have had more in the second half had it not been for a good four or five impressive saves from Schmeichel which would have made his Dad proud. One double-save was particularly spectacular.
The equaliser just wouldn’t come for Leeds and the end drew closer all the time. We pushed but it just wasn’t happening.
Its a long season with 45 games to go but something needs touching up with our team. We need a good holding midfielder acting in a defensive midfield role and we definitely need a stronger central defender. Also we need more strikeforce…hopefully Paynter won’t be out too long and can partner Becchio effectively.
Tuesday night is Lincoln in the cup and in all honesty I would be too aggrieved if we lost and concentrated on the League this season.