Today’s 2-3 score line doesn’t tell the full story, our performance was worthy of a draw at least.
After a good start to the game from the Alex our day, and indeed the match was ruined. Snodgrass hit us on the break, overhitting the ball as he exited the Leeds half. With that it sent Billy Jones and Snodgrass chasing the ball. Billy, ahead of Snodgrass, was pulled back by his shirt and in a tangle the two went down.
This is where the insanity started, somehow Leeds were awarded a free kick – maybe because of the 1,600 heavy mob behind the coward lineswoman or maybe because someone paid a visit to the bookies pre-match, impossible to say. It caused a mini ruck, which soon calmed after the referee had stood and watched for a couple of minutes.
Not only did Snodgrass’s foul earn Leeds a free kick it also got Jones booked. After receiving his yellow he fired a few words towards the linewoman, which the referee heard, and he was promptly sent off.
What was said by Jones to earn him what looked like a straight red is still not known, but it was probably not far off what over 5,000 Alex fans were shouting. It was a disgraceful decision followed up by pettiness.
Had the lineswoman done her job, had the referee done his job the whole situation would not have occurred. It was foul by Snodgrass, plain and simple.
The fact the lineswoman switched the side of the pitch she ran in the 2nd half showed just how weak her officiating was. You tread a fine line with this, it’s very easy to be labelled sexist, but she simply cannot do her job to the standard required and if the FA must have a token female in the game then at least teach her the rules of the game.
The sending off rocked the team, left back being the one area we had absolutely no real cover for didn’t help. The 10 minutes which followed were mayhem, the defenders didn’t know their jobs and Ruddy was forced into a couple of mistakes. Leeds strolled to a 3-0 lead.
By the end of the first half though you saw the Alex starting to fight back, coming close to getting a goal of our own at times.
In typical Gudjon fashion the half time team talk changed the rest of the game. We came out all guns blazing, out playing, out fighting and out thinking Leeds all over the pitch – and we only had ten men.
Any threat they tried to impose in the second half was easily dealt with by the makeshift defence whilst Gylfi Sigurdsson controlled things in midfield. It was a performance oozing pride and passion, something the officials can’t stop.
We can also take pride in our lack of theatrics. Whilst some disgraceful Leeds players took to clutching their faces every five minutes in order to try and con the referee or attempting to undress Clayton Dondalson, we let our football do the talking. Bit like we pay our finances in full, unlike Leeds.
The fight back was on whn we pulled a goal back on the hour mark. A Sigurdsson corner headed in by Julien Baudet at the far post gave us a little hope.
The fight back was really on when we got another 15 minutes later. Sigurdsson again involved, a brilliant bit of skill to get the Iceman past two Leeds defender to cross in. It pinged in the box for a bit before falling to Woodards 30 yards out, his shot hit a crowd of players. Eventually it fell beyond the keepers reach for Tom Pope to covert into the back of the net with his head.
For any Leeds fan who had convinced themselves that their team had simply ‘taken their foot off the gas’, it was about time to get worried. It was clear Leeds hadn’t taken their foot off the gas, in fact we were simply too strong for them. Champions of Europe no more. Not that they ever were.
Unluckily we just didn’t have enough energy to see us get our well deserved point. The players fought and fought to the end but it was heavy legs all round and it wasn’t falling in the right places in the final few minutes, despite a couple of free kicks given away by the dirtiest team in the league.
At least we can go home proud of our team, knowing that more performance and hard fought games like that and we’ll stay up. Leeds? I’ll be surprised if they’re not back at Gresty Road next season, clutching their faces like a bunch of pansies next time Baudet’s polyester football shirt wafts in their face.
We’re staying up.
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Key man – Gylfi Sigurdsson. The boy is class.
New and improved…