What a deflating loss that was yesterday at Portman Road. An early goal to build up hope, 90 minutes of frantic defending, and an execution at the last... but worse than all of that, yesterday was six points lost to a team battling for the final playoff position and Leeds United falling to 15th in the table. So deflating was it that even the staunchest optimist in Leeds' hopes must surely say that, now, the team is holding onto hope by a thread, and the scissors are poised to cut it this weekend when the Whites travel to Sheffield.
The game started off so well. Before the Ipswich fans/staff had time to find their seats, Souleymane Doukara took the ball off an Ipswich defender and pocketed it in the bottom right corner past a dumbfounded Dean Gerken. Doukara's goal was the second fastest in Leeds history at 13 seconds. The reaction in the stands, on the radio, and on Twitter was hilarious.
GOAL: Town behind within the first 60 seconds as Doukara finds the net. I wasn't in my seat so no idea what happened, sorry #itfc— Ipswich Town FC (@Official_ITFC) January 12, 2016
WAIT WHAT— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) January 12, 2016
From there, Ipswich really had the run of play for the remaining 89:47. Seriously. Leeds managed a few mediocre chances before the halftime break, but you felt lucky to be going into half in the lead. Mustapha Carayol had flashes of speed, and he looks as though he might indeed be a difference-maker, but once again, Marco Silvestri was the man of the first half, keeping the team in the lead with a handful of huge saves.
The second half was worse than the first, as all the play was in Leeds' half of the pitch. Six minutes in, Luke Chambers put in a cross from Ryan Fraser (who dominated the left side) throughout, and the match was tied at 1. For the final forty minutes, Ipswich fired chance after chance at Silvestri and his defense held, giving hope to the Leeds faithful, but when the fourth official raised the board and announced five minutes of stoppage time, this writer had a sinking feeling it was all for naught.
In the second minute of extra time, Fraser made yet another run down the side and put yet another perfect cross into the box. This one found the head of an appallingly unmarked striker, Brett Pitman, and he would not turn down the gift. Ipswich took their first lead of the game, a game they trailed in the 14th second, and the fans who stayed in the frigid cold and light rain went bananas. Someone want to tell me how Pitman was that open in front of goal?
Leeds United fans have to feel like this is the end of a distant promotion dream. The loss sends us to 15th in the league midway through January, and unless Cellino adds help in a hurry AND they can gel into a complete unit, we'll end the season in the middle of the table. The undefeated streak had to come to an end eventually, but you hope it doesn't happen in a game such as this, in such a heartbreaking fashion.
Regardless, Leeds fans know disappointment. We'll move on from here and remember, Steve Evans doesn't think we're out of this yet:
"I said before this game that if we don’t take anything away from here then we need to go and win at Hillsborough and we’ll be trying to go win there. We’ve enjoyed the run we were on and now we need to go on another one. We’re not giving up because if we win on Saturday and Ipswich don’t win then it’s a different ball-game again."
Let's hope he's right. On to Hillsborough. #MOT