Probably our biggest away game of the season (so far and arguably maybe for the rest of the season) saw our band of merry men heading down to dirty Leeds for a 1.15 kick off. Now, I have stuff to do on return to the North East so was sober on the bus but it does come as a harsh reality check when you see what I am normally like on these trips. A lad coming out of the toilet at 9am having thrown up because ‘I’m not used to Brown Ale man’ holding a bottle of Brown Ale! Or the lads sitting opposite us saying ‘there’s only 10 minutes before the bus leaves (10.15am), shall we get the Jaeger Bombs in?’. Or the fact that about 15 lads are happily singing along to ‘Atmosphere’ by Russ Abbot on the juke box. The delights of travelling away with Newcastle United – I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.
Despite having more piss stops that for a trip to Birmingham, we arrived outside Elland Road well before kick-off and I immediately noticed how run down the whole place looks like now. I might be looking through rose coloured glassed but I always remember Elland Road being a bit of an imposing stadium with an intimidating atmosphere. It just seemed to have lost its edge. We bumped into a few member of the TF clan on the concourse before the game and they have all been down in Leeds the night before but reported (happily) of an event free evening watching an under par Fat Boy Slim play other people’s records for shed loads of money – I still don’t get that!
Onto the game and we started off really well. We took the sting right of the game and their fans in the first 20 minutes with confident passing and hard work when winning the ball back. A classy ball by Shelvey over the Leeds back four saw Gayle denied by Green and we forced a couple of corners to keep the pressure on. Both sets of fans participated in a fitting tribute to ex-player Gary Speed in the 11th minute and then in the 23rd minute, a hopeful lob forward by Colback saw Green back peddling and as he neared his own goal line he just patted the ball down to an alert Gayle who duly prodded home for 1-0. Cue mass celebration and hysteria in the away end.
Yoan Gouffran saw a great curling effort go narrowly wide and Darlow made a decent save from an Ayling header but we were still well on top. Leeds did get a bit of momentum going towards half time and seemed to have a strong shout for a Colback hand ball in the area just before the break. Veira pulled the ball back from the Leeds right and it looked like a penalty to me (admittedly from the other end of the ground) but the ref waved away appeals and we got a bit of a rub of the green. We deserved it though for a dominant first half display.
The second half started in the same vein as the first ended with Leeds having a go. Darlow made wnother great stop 4 minutes into the half with ba one handed save low down to his right denying O’Kane after a Colback mis-cue in his own box but just as I was starting to get a bit nervous, Gayle sealed the game with his second.
By far and away the best passage of football of the game saw us carve Leeds apart with a passing move involving Colback, Anita and Perez ending with Anita’s slide rule pass along the 6 yard box and a fantastic finish from Gayle. A lovely goal and it really demonstrated how our class is better than anything else in this league.
From then on, the stuffing seemed to be knocked out of their team and supporters and from the hour mark onwards, we were never in bother. Mitro and Diame replaced Gouffran and Gayle but neither really looked like scoring. A long range effort from Diame not really troubling the Leeds keeper.
They seemed more determined to try and clatter our players rather than play football with Jansson lucky to escape a second yellow in my opinion, after he clattered Mitrovic on the half way line. But anyway, screw them and let’s just put this down to another fantastic away performance orchestrated by the genius that is Rafa Benitez. It’s great being a Mag again.
By the way, special mention to our fans who were outstanding all day. Non-stop support with moments of hilarity thrown in – ‘Jimmy Saville, he’s one of your own’ being a particular favourite although their response about Ant, Dec and Chery Cole was a bit close to the knuckle. I can’t believe those lovely Geordie’s would allow that to happen!
Onwards and upwards as they say and this was a great day out supporting our just and righteous cause. One love as they saying goes.
Team: Darlow 8, Anita 8, Lascelles 7, Clark 8, Dummett 7, Ritchie 7, Colback 7 (Hayden 83), Shelvey 8, Gouffran 7 (Diame 76), Perez 7, Gayle 8 (Mitrovic 79).
Subs n/u: Mbemba, Yedlin, Sels, Atsu.
Dave Ted Edwards
Podcast: No teeth, one game, two goals, three points
Dwight Gayle is mint. We discuss this and other things. Another dead easy win away from home.