Millwall 2-0 Leeds Pitchside Ponderings

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What have you all been doing since we last spoke? Still reminiscing about the last home game of the season and how we destroyed Bournemouth to stave off the spectre of relegation? Or maybe you have been avidly collecting your Panini world cup stickers ( I still need another 10 to complete so PM me if you are still in the market for swapping, and no, I don’t have pampas grass in my front garden, I want to swap stickers, not lady friends), or have you just switched off from football altogether?

None of the above is, of course, relevant, what is relevant is the new season is here and we have been given every chance to collect three points for the first time on opening day since about 2010 by virtue of the fixture list sending us Leeds Utd ( ha! United? I think not, they are almost as disjointed as poor old Blackpool at the moment). Only Charlton at home could have been better for us.

Mr Holloway has been busy enough during the break, I shan’t list the comings or goings, if you don’t know who we have got and who we have got rid of then why the fuck are you reading this anyway?

The expectations for me are not high. I just want to be relegation free this time round, no flirting with the drop, no trembling glances over the shoulder, no worrying about if 50 points will be enough, just a mediocre run through the next 46 games with no fucking about.

So Leeds at home was the best place to start off and the sun was out in all its glory as we commenced our rituals (although slightly different, a drive back from Devon is not likely to feature any more this term), and we were soon back on hallowed ground at the Den. A very decent opening day crowd of just over 16,000 obviously swelled by the incoherent couple of thousand from Yorkshire (should really be Berkshire) making it a very upbeat start to the new campaign.

The Leeds fans were strangely quiet; perhaps the reality is finally sinking in that they are perhaps not the mighty club that they have believed they are. Look, we can all point to the history books and claim all sorts of historical glory but there comes a time when the painfully obvious is staring you in the face. You are fucking shit and you are not going to win anything for a very long time. Chanting “leedsleedsleeds” when you win a corner is about as good it is going to get for these poor miserable bastards. They are the proverbial masturbating scarecrow, always clutching at straws, they are the also rans, the team that makes up the numbers, the Elisha Cook Jnr of the football world (don’t bother looking him up, he was an actor who made a living playing the eternal fall guy…)

But, you are not here to listen to inane ramblings about our victims, er…I mean opponents… you want Millwall stuff thrown at you. So what team did Mr Holloway send out to commence the ritual humiliation of our deluded opponents?

Forde in goal, of course, Malone, Dunne (capt.), Beevers and Edwards across the back, a zig zaggy “W” formation in midfield comprising of Woolford, Abdou, Williams, Martyn and McDonald with new signing Fuller up front.

It looked well balanced and easy on the eye. The team actually looked like a team, not a bunch of misfits and mavericks, nothing like the team that opened last season. However, Leeds looked exactly like that and I had to check at least twice that Lomas hadn’t surfaced as their new manager.

We started off on the front foot and just kept going, solid at the back bossing the midfield and creating enough pressure to force Leeds into a wavering crumpled mess in no time at all. The crowd was playing its part as well, the mood at the Den was spirited to say the least, giving the visitors the full bifta as the team pursued the opening goal of the new season

We didn’t have too long to wait.

Eight minutes in and we forced a corner. Woolford played it short to Martyn who steadied himself and whipped over a cross that Beevers who nonchalantly swept the ball into the back of the net 1-0! Get in you lovely Lions.

Of course, the crowd went loopy, why wouldn’t we, and we sat back and watched Leeds physically melt before our eyes. They were clearly no match for us, punching well above their weight by being in the same stadium, burt credit where it is due they worked out a system whereby as soon as they got the ball they worked it quickly back to their ‘keeper Silvestri, who gainfully booted it back to our defence to give us another go at them.

We should have had second goal on fifteen minutes, Beevers again, rising at the far post with a header from a Woolford corner that saw the ball fly agonisingly wide of the target.

We were in superb form as we cut through the bewildered visitors at will but the second goal would not come but it didn’t seem important, this Leeds side couldn’t score even if it was Jimmy Saville in a mortuary..

(I winced when I wrote that…)

We finished the half off with two more chances, first up Alan Dunne, revelling in his captaincy, got on the end of an Edwards free kick but his header was well saved by the over worked Silvestri and then on the stroke of half time the busy Fuller managed a shot from about the edge of the box but it was always going just over.
The lads trotted off at half time to some well-earned applause and cheers.

What what!! We had half time entertainment at the Den. Chris “I don’t need a Microphone” Bethall introduced us to a new game that some of us saw at Ipswich away last season. 2 grown men each have a giant inflatable ball that they climb inside and then race the length of the pitch in. For some obscure reason we couldn’t get any Leeds fans to take part. I suspect they had trouble understanding the rules. But all in all it was just a bit of fun and at least it was something other than, well, absolutely nothing! So well done Millwall for at least trying to get an away teams fans involved in something other than “shitting themselves at forty paces from the ground” even if the numbskulls from Yorkshire didn’t want to play.

No changes for us for the second forty five but clearly there was no need to change things although the lads nearly got caught out from the kick off as Forde did his usual once again cock up, flapping at a ball out on the edge of his area which he really didn’t need to go for and we watched in horror as the ball fell kindly for Leeds but with Forde stranded Ajose had all the time in the world to pick his spot but Alan Dunne was on the line and dealt with the shot with a cool calm collected authority that wearing the arm band brings with it.

We went at them after that little hiccough, Woolford continuing his tormenting runs got himself into a shooting position but his effort was saved by Silvestri, the ball parried away and falling right in the path of Abdou and to be honest, as soon as we saw it was Jimmi we sort of knew the ball was going to end up in row Z and he duly obliged.

On the hour mark we should have been given a penalty. Woolford jinking his way into the box, bamboozling the Leeds defence, he was unceremoniously dumped onto his arse by a Leeds defender but inexplicably the ref waved play on after a dramatic arm signal indicating “no fucking way was that a penalty”. If that was the case, why no yellow card for diving?

Leeds brought on alleged Millwall target for transfer Matt Smith, all six foot seven inches of him and lo and behold, he turned out to be a galoot. He had one chance to score from a cross and completely missed Forde’s goal by a country mile. He never contributed anything else after that. We dodged a bullet there…

A double substitution from Mr Holloway with about 20 odd minutes left saw Easter replace Woolford and Gueye replace Martin.

We pressed on for the elusive second goal the fresh legs adding impetuous but scant reward. McDonald had a double effort saved by the busy Silvestri and when the over worked was beaten, this time by Easter, the ball went a little way off the mark.

AS time was running out, Leeds started to take some chances, leaving their back completely vulnerable and the chance was always there for a quick counter but we never really exploited it. And we had a brief moment of worry when Forde was tested with Poleon effort but the Irish international was more than a match, saving well with one hand.

Gregory came on for Fuller who got a rousing ovation for a decent shift and for what little we saw of Gregory, he certainy looks the part. His running off the ball and creating spaces was very encouraging and indeed it was his forage forward that saw the game made safe. He was put through and and although his first touch let him down slightly he did enough to keep his composure and brought the ball back under control and as he slipped it cleverly past defender Cook, the hapless defender stuck out a boot and over went Gregory. In truth it looked less of a penalty than the earlier one not given but this time the ref did not hesitate and pointed to the spot.

Shaun Williams, it seems, has the penalty taking duties now and he made no mistake at all. 2-0! And thoroughly deserved it was to.

Our total dominance had been rewarded and with only a few minutes left and with four minutes of stoppage time, we knew the game was over. The final whistle brought rapturous cheers and applause and you could tell the players were absolutely buzzing. We have often, in the past, seen games like this whereby a decent size crowd turn up, expectations at an all-time high only for the result to go against us. How refreshing to to see this go against the usual grain. We looked comfortable, secure and like a team that knows what it is supposed to be doing.

Clearly we have a long old season ahead of us but just for now I am revelling in the well-earned win and the performance behind it. We have set the marker know so we cannot drop below this now, we have something to build on and for what seems like an eternity, we have something to genuinely feel pleased about.

Cup frenzy commences on Tuesday night with the visit of Wycombe and then our first away game of the new season, a trip to Fulham, which I suspect, may well get a bit, to use the colloquial phrase, messy…

I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best. Oscar Wilde
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    Usual good read pleased that you have dumped that Pratchet bloke