|The fact we went to Wales excited me, so here's a Welsh road sign.|
After a quick ham and cheese toastie we left Wales, crossing the Severn Bridge towards Bristol and were greeted by traffic. Lots of traffic. As if we weren't in a big enough rush already. We finally arrived, parked barely legally and power-walked the short distance to the ground. I'd never been to Ashton Gate before but didn't have time to stop and take in its "beauty" as I was more concerned at missing kick off. I missed kick off anyway; it took me five minutes to convince the bored looking security guard that I wasn't carrying anything illegal.
|The Severn Bridge in all its glory.|
My away game record isn't great; that's putting it kindly, we never win when I make the journey and the first half as expected went un-noticed. It was fairly even, there was a lot of "hoof-ball" and there certainly wasn't anything to write home about. Our position in the corner behind the corner-flag was a good one, but we had unfortunately located ourselves near a group of rowdy, okay pissed, teens. They seemed to be the world's biggest Paddy Kenny fans, throwing themselves into an X-Factor winning rendition of "Paddy Kenny's having a party.." every time he touched the ball. Thankfully, the Leeds stopper was fairly quiet in an opening period that saw little in terms of chances for either side. The head-line moment was a serious injury to Bristol City full-back George Elokobi who we later found out had fractured and dislocated his ankle after a serious fall. The reaction of the home fans was clear enough to me that it was extremely serious and I was impressed that both sets of supporters clapped the fallen giant off the field.
Thankfully, the ring-leader of X Factor's "pissed-up teens" was defeated at half-time; the pool of sick left on the floor representative of his afternoon's work. I'm not a fan of investigating people's vomit but less alcohol and more food would have been worthwhile advice to the poor lad.
On April 28th, on this very blog, I stated that the potential signing of El-Hadji Diouf could have been the cleverest signing of the summer. I'm rarely correct, maybe this time I was, but even I have been surprised at just how much of a positive impact the "sewer rat" has had. And it was Diouf, Leeds' matador that opened the scoring, kick-starting an exciting second half by putting the away side into the lead. Young Sam Byram was excellent down the right, getting to the by-line and instead of drilling a hopeful cross into the box as most would have, the mature 19 year old picked out Diouf who fired it into the far bottom corner. I couldn't believe it, I had my away goal and celebrated with as much surprise as delight. The goal had come after Rodolph Austin twice came close with two headers, one saved well by Heaton and one re-bounding back off the crossbar. I felt we deserved to go 1-0 ahead but in typical Leeds fashion, the lead didn't last long.
The equaliser settled the home side down and they started to play a lot better. Our end was slightly more subdued and for a few minutes it was hard to see us scoring again; we did have the ball in the net from Tom Lees but it was disallowed for...well I don't know. This time I wasn't punching a beach ball, I actually saw what happened and thought the referee made a mistake in disallowing the goal. As it turned out, we were gifted the lead after a mistake by Robins captain Liam Fontaine. A hopeful ball from Becchio wasn't dealt with and fan-favourite Diouf was on hand to slot the ball under Heaton to restore Leeds' lead. I found myself hugging the friendly man in the row behind me and all of a sudden we were joined by a third man; a three-way hug with strangers is a standard away day ritual.
Two minutes later, it got even better. Michael Tonge has looked like a steady loan signing since his arrival, but on 83 minutes he rolled back the years. He rolled back the years so much that he did something he's never done before. Cutting in from his un-natural position on the left wing, the Stoke loanee unleashed an unstoppable drive into the top right corner of Heaton's goal. The 1,800 Leeds fans were sent into delirium. I couldn't believe it; I was so happy I could have cried.
Somehow Bristol City found a way back into the game through an own goal. It's unclear who actually scored it; the announcer seemed to mention Sam Byram's name, Sky Sports said it was Austin's. Must of had too many rizlas. We didn't care; after a six long minutes, the whistle blew and Leeds recorded their third win in a week. I was delighted.
I felt so proud clapping the lads off one last time before Christmas. Lee Peltier is and will remain my favourite player out of the current squad but its hard not to love El Hadji Diouf. Kissing the badge may have been a step too far for a man who's had more clubs than red-cards (surprising, given his track record) but it still delighted the travelling faithful. If you score twice and kiss the badge, it doesn't matter who you are, you will be loved. Who would have thought the city of Leeds would be worshipping the likes of Neil Warnock and El Hadji Diouf. But so far this season, mixing two hated men with a hated club is working an absolute dream.
Long may it continue.