Elland Road is the latest ground to add to my list after I travelled to Leeds to watch them take on Grimsby in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy last night.
It’s always nice to experience a new venue, although I was hoping I would also get to visit on Saturday for the rugby league Four Nations final, but unfortunately it’s not to be.
There wasn’t many home fans in attendance, a total of 10,340 was announced, but a fair few had made the trip from North Lincolnshire on a cold Tuesday night. We were packed in like sardines though – in fact, Elland Road is probably worse than Old Trafford for seating space.
Grimsby, second bottom in League Two, couldn’t have been much further away from Leeds in league standings with regards to this tournament, the Whites sitting top of League One, but they did themselves no shame.
It took 40 minutes for Leeds to take the lead – some way from my first goal prediction of 3 – and it was unfortunate. Max Gradel made Peter Bore not look like the right back he isn’t, turning him and firing in a left footed cross which was deflected in to the goal by Oliver Lancashire.
Despite their efforts, Grimsby lost a second goal on the stroke of half time, Neil Kilkenny picking his spot in the bottom corner with a tidy finish – which, despite some remarkable criticism of Nick Colgan from fans behind me, was not saveable.
You could, however, make an argument to criticise Colgan for the third Leeds goal – he maybe could have done better with Jermaine Beckford’s shot, although it came after a superb point blank save by the former Sunderland goalkeeper to keep the score down.
The Grimsby fans were rewarded for their support with a stunning Peter Sweeney volley, and the Mariners rallied in the final quarter, with Bradley Wood denied by Casper Ankergen twice late on. The game finished 3-1.
Grimsby’s focus now switches to league survival, a situation they once again find themselves in. Currently managerless, Russell Slade has been linked with a return.
Last night, new left back Josh McCrory looked handy, while midfield pair Michael Leary and Peter Sweeney stifled their opposite numbers effectively, while Sweeney’s touch is a class above the level he is at. Even at the back, Grimsby look relatively steady, it’s just a lack of a cutting edge in the final third that is hurting them.
Missing Adam Proudlock up front, Danny North and Adrian Forbes aren’t the answer. Forbes sent the offside statistics off the scale with all too frequent mistimed runs. Out wide, Jamaal Shahin showed promise but the end product was too often lacking. Jamie Clarke on the other side seems to operate within a 10 yard radius of his starting position and no where else.
Five games down then, and still no sniff of a Grimsby win in my presence. Maybe one day.