Leeds Utd 2-2 Norwich City
Monday, 21st Feb 2011 11:19
Somma time, and the Leeds can breathe easy... Terrible opening, but Leeds supporters won't think so.
It was as Simon Grayson had foretold, Leeds threw everything in the armoury at Norwich for most of the first half, taking a well-deserved lead after 17 minutes through, who else but Luciano Becchio who met a Max Gradel cross to beat John Ruddy after hitting the woodwork only minutes before.
Seldom has Norwich come under such pressure from home teams, and seldom have teams kept the pressure applied as Leeds did. It was a goal in added on time of the first half that got Norwich back into the game.
A centre from Crofts was headed by Holt for Lansbury to drill through Kasper Schmeichel's legs.
No doubt about it, Paul Lambert's boys did remarkably well to keep Leeds from running away with the game, and even better to go in at half time all square.
It was a goal that must have annoyed every Leeds player and supporter, after being so commanding for the first 45 minutes. And it was a goal that raised spirits in the Norwich dressing room during tea and biscuits.
Norwich City got involved much more and Leeds, credit to them, kept the pressure up; the consequence was an end to end battle that Magic Johnson would have felt at home in.
Leeds had more opportunities to go ahead as did Norwich, in a game in which neither team was going to let defeat share the bath with them after the final whistle
The deadlock was broken when Andrew Crofts once again, set the goal up, this time by putting Wes Hoolahan in a position where he could turn his man and silence the Elland Road roar. Norwich had the lead, but they also had 20 minutes to keep a hold of it or stretch it further.
Leeds were not going to let this stop them, and Simon Grayson made a change after 74 minutes by taking off Neil Kilkenny and sending on Davide Somma who equalised for Leeds with his first touch of the ball after just one minute.
Now the battle was on for the deciding goal, and those that were in the stands were treated to some end to end stuff where fingernails of both white and yellow hue were nervously gnawed away.
Not a lot to worry about for Norwich City supporters; there was always added on time for that last minute goal. Not this time, though. In fact, it was very nearly Norwich City that was sunk by a dying salvo when John Ruddy managed to get a hand to substitute Billy Paynter's effort in the third minute of added time.
The resulting corner was the signal for referee Neil Swarbrick to put an end to what was a great, evenly matched contest.
And a word for the referee; many of them are guilty of mediocrity verging on over-zealousness. Neil Swarbrick had a great afternoon. Who knows, perhaps he realised the importance of the ocassion.
Photo: Action Images
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Letters from Wiltshire #22 by wessex_exile
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