Written by Oscar Jepson
An unforgettable past, history to be proud of. An ominous future, clubs ruined by neglectful owners. Two previous English forces came head to head, White rose Vs Red, battling to scrape away from the Championships bottom 2.
credit Ronnie Macdonald
372 away fans travelled across the counties, scraping together a dear £40 each to watch the two worst teams in the English Second Division to date, vibes were beyond negative with most fans, especially from the side representing the red rose of Lancashire. With a league win for Rovers absent, the fans were never going to be over pleased with the ex rival boss ruling the first team, whilst the chicken farmers owners lived the life back home in India and that was made ever so clear as ‘We want Venky’s out echoed around the away end. Despite the mess Leeds United are in, the rowdy fans in the South stand never fail to deliver as they sung their hearts out to the legendary tune of ‘Marching On Together’. The Yorkshire folk were definitely in better spirits.
Leeds, in their traditional all white strip, dominated the ball in the opening few minutes but as the ball was won for Rovers, they certainly weren’t messing about as the returning Corry Evans guided a ball over the top for Sam Gallagher, on loan form Southampton, to chase. Ex England shot-stopper, Rob Green was quick to react too this danger as he and Gallagher raced to the ball, the away fans were on the edge of their seats and the home crowd were grimacing as the young striker looked to have the better of the goalkeeper. The ground fell silent as Gallagher grew ever closer to the ball, and, eventually, nipped it away from Green. However, this wasn’t the end of that as Green followed through with his challenge and clattered into Gallagher. The away fans erupted. The ref blew up. ‘Off! Off! Off!’ was the cry from the travelling supporters as the Leeds faithful could only stand and watch… Yellow card, free kick. The Yorkshire folk relax as the Red rose fans swing their arms around in disbelief. It should of been a red.
After a long delay for treatment for both the players, causing Green to have a bandage around his head, both sides settled down as the home side began calmly retaining possession. The first half period became less appetising by the second as Leeds passed it around the back and the only real chance was a half hearted header straight down Jason Steele’s throat. Half Time 0-0. The game was in the balance.
credit Ben Sutherland
The opening 45 minutes weren’t much to live up to as the excitement was nearly equalled within the first minute of the second half when Leeds’ possession game was exposed by a busy Ben Marshall, who drove forward and struck a shot just inches wide of the post after stealing the ball from the home team. The game had opened up. Chance after chance. Both teams were playing without fear, in complete contrast to the first 45. Leeds’ stand out player, Hadi Sacko, began creating nightmares for Rovers new boy Derrick Williams, who had marshalled him expertly throughout, as Leeds began racking up the chances. Just as Williams began feeling comfortable, Sacko made him pay with a darting run to glide past him and Corry Evans to slide a ball through to the out of form Wood who slotted home into the open goal. 1-0 Leeds, and the Rovers mood turned sour. Abuse was pouring out at Coyle, who could only stand and contemplate how his team trailed once more against the run of play.
Unlike the opening few games of the season, the side in navy, blue and white picked themselves back up and dived head first into the home sides defence as Garry Monks side shut up shop to try hold onto their lead. Graham, who looked out of it, was then replaced by the new signing Marvin Emnes. The away side kept up the pressure as the seasons star man for Rovers, Craig Conway, was played through, splitting the defence open, he cuts it back into the path of Emnes on the edge of the area and, as if it was slow motion, he taps it away to create space as he unleashes a precise shot at goal that races to Rob Greens right hand side. Goal. 1-1. Game on.
Rovers remained on top as chances came and went for the away side, most significantly, another chance for debutant Marvin Emnes as he is found in space out wide towards the corner of the penalty area as he begins dribbling towards the goal, and with a drop of his shoulder he leaves Charlie Taylor for dead, and fires a shot, stinging Greens gloves, it ricocheted off a Leeds defenders leg and Gallagher is the quickest to react, he volleys it on the turn and Robert Green leaps like a cat to parry the ball away. Despair for Rovers. Relief for Leeds as Green pulls off a save of the season contender after he is controversially still on the pitch. After a huge warning for Leeds, they persisted with their sit back and counter attack ways and in this case, it won them a free kick, towards the touchline with just 4 minutes to go. Everyone bar Emnes back for Rovers as Leeds midfielder, Alex Mowatt whipped the ball into the area. A peach of a cross, which fell to Bartley, Gallagher’s man, who had a free header, he made no mistake as he headed it off the post and in. 2-1 Leeds. Heartbreak for the travelling fans, euphoria for the home supporters. Meanwhile, Rovers were not lying down as they came back for more after the gut wrenching late equaliser, however, 7 minutes of added time was not enough for the once great Lancashire club, they had fallen to a 5th loss in just 7 league games.
The away mood was toxic, divergent to the Leeds faithful who’s team had lifted themselves above the relegation spots. As Owen Coyle’s men continuously battle on to try find their first win, Garry Monk has handed himself an extra life line under the burning eyes of Massimo Cellino.
Leeds stand out players: Sacko, Jansson, Bridcutt and Bartley.
Rovers stand out players: Gallagher, Emnes, Evans and Williams.
Match highlights for this game are available on this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpcCg6JbHvQ
Blackburn fans, are performances at least giving you some encouragement? What do you make of your chances of survival? Let us know in the comments below!
featured image by Victor Araiza