Saturday, May 8, 2010

We've always hated Leeds United here at AFTN. As we explained in the blog on February 3rd, we're not quite sure why we hate them so much, we just do!

With the final promotion spot in England's League One being tantalisingly poised this afternoon, we were hoping that the once mighty Leeds United would fail once again at getting out of the lower leagues. Sadly they didn't. But we have to tip our hats to them as they battled fantastically to get there.

It was an amazing end to the campaign. Going into today's games, five teams had a chance of promotion to the Championship. Weirdly, if we had to pick what team actually went up it would have gone in the order of Huddersfield Town, Charlton Athletic, Swindon Town, Millwall then Leeds. I say weirdly as that was just the complete reverse of how the teams were sitting as the day began, so not really on the cards!

For Huddersfield, it was highly unlikely that they would secure second as they needed too many other results going in their favour. For the other four though, it was to proved to be an amazing afternoon of ups and downs, twists and turns and all those other football cliches. Without too much hyperbole though, it was one of the most dramatic set of last day fixtures that I can remember and exciting to watch unfold.

Over the course of the afternoon four teams sat in that cherished second automatic promotion spot.

Leeds United had a nightmare first half that saw a goal disallowed and winger Max Gradel given a straight red within seconds of each other. Gradel's dismissal was just, as he seemed to stamp and push the Bristol Rovers defender Daniel Jones. The fact that Jones went down clutching his face won't endear him to fans across the country though. Whether that made the lino say it was a red and not just a booking, we don't know at this time.

Leeds then went into half-time goalless, but still sitting in that promotion spot on 84 points, the same as Charlton who were leading 1-0 but with a worse goal difference. Millwall and Swindon, who were playing each other and drawing 1-1 at the half, sat just a point behind. It couldn't have been much tighter.

As the second halves got underway, with Leeds a little behind due to the time added on in the first half when Gradel refused to leave the pitch, it all changed. Bristol Rovers took the lead against Leeds after 48 minutes when Darryl Duffy hit home as the Leeds players went to sleep.

That goal left Charlton sitting in the promotion spot, but only for a few minutes as ten man Leeds equalised eleven minutes later Jonathan Howson, sending Leeds back into second. That joy was short lived when Swindon Town's Gordon Greer put through his own net to give Millwall a 2-1 lead and second place 62 minutes into their game.

Unbelievably Leeds were playing like men possessed and it was perhaps fitting that it was their captain and most talented player Jermaine Beckford that became the Elland Road hero on 63 minutes when he hit what was to prove to be the game and promotion winning goal for Leeds.

Leeds held out quite comfortably in the end for a 2-1 win and automatic promotion. The final whistle saw scenes of ecstatic joy at Elland Road and the long suffering Leeds fans, who have admirably stuck by their club in numbers throughout their recent troubles, move one step closer to top flight football once again.

I have to commend Leeds for one of the most battling performances I've seen for a while. Down a man, out of the promotion spot, the fans demanding so much. Managers of other teams battling for promotion and relegation should just show their players the video of this match as to how it should be handled and job done.

Well done Leeds. Still don't like them much though!


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