Terry Pierce - Leeds hold their nerve to get over the line
Published: 10 May 2010 - 13:52:52
So after a pulsating final day in League One, Leeds were the eventual victors and have returned to the Championship after a three-year absence, despite doing their upmost to bottle promotion again.
And as much as it pains me to say it, Whites boss, Simon Grayson, and his players probably just about deserved the top-two finish and their moments of joy on Saturday evening as an incredible third-tier promotion race reached its climax.
Going into the weekends games any one of five sides could claim second spot, and four different teams occupied the automatic promotion place at some stage during the 90 minutes.
Leeds started the day second and just needed to win, but by five-past-three Swindon Town were sitting pretty after taking an early lead at fellow challengers Millwall.
However, the Lions quickly drew level and Charlton, winning away at Oldham, suddenly found themselves leading the pack.
As the clock raced towards 4.00, Leeds seemed to self-destruct, with Max Gradel getting himself sent off and then completely losing the plot before Grayson's side fell behind to Bristol Rovers, sparking an incredible atmosphere in East London that somehow got even better when Swindon skipper Gordon Greer bundled into his own net, leaving Millwall half an hour away from the Championship.
But Leeds were not to be denied, and local-boy Jonny Howson and captain-for-the-day Jermaine Beckford scored to hand Leeds their first promotion for 20 years.
After an incredible start to the season, they tailed off after their amazing cup exploits but had the last laugh by scrambling out of the toughest League One for years, and everyone connected to the club should be proud of themselves.
Apart from one person - Max Gradel. A real low-point on a day of celebration, I only hope the FA throw the book at him. Considering its not the first time he has let himself and the club down - think Carlisle away in the Football League Trophy he could have no complaints if Saturday was the last time he wore the famous Leeds shirt.
In other news, with Swindon now set for the League One play-offs, the inevitable ruck for tickets started in earnest yesterday but being marooned in Sussex, I looked destined to miss out on a trip to the Valley a week today.
Cue a phone call to my mum, lots of begging, a four-hour queue and a couple of bottles of wine to sweeten the deal and eight tickets to Towns biggest match since Saturday are mine.
What a hero!
READ TERRY PIERCE EXCLUSIVELY AT FOOTBALL.CO.UK EVERY MONDAY
- FOOTBALL.CO.UK BLOGGER:terry pierce
- Terry was born and bred in Wiltshire, and is a massive Swindon fan - travelling the length of the country most weekends to watch the 'mighty' Reds. He also manages a successful(ish) Sunday league side, and his life pretty much revolves around football. Five-year-old Terry was in the crowd when Swindon won promotion to the Premier League in 1993 with a 4-3 play-off win against Leicester. He cried after every goal. Read Terry's thoughts every week on life outside the Premier League. Follow Terry on Twitter @telpierce.
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