Leeds United need a ‘James Coppinger moment’ at Brentford as Premier League survival bid goes to the final day

GIVEN the epic history of Yorkshire clubs – for better and worse – on the final day of seasons, then Leeds United supporters better strap themselves in and fasten their seatbelts at Brentford on Sunday afternoon.

It’s been bumpy, bewildering, brilliant and brutal in equal measure and there have certainly been fun and games in that part of West London before.

On a national stage, there was famously the Aguero moment when ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City pinched the Premier League gong from Manchester United’s grasp in the final throes of 2011-12 and Martin Tyler’s commentary line became iconic.

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Further back in 1989, the epochal ‘It’s up for grabs now’ line is the one which defined the exemplary commentary career of the late Brian Moore in describing Michael Thomas’s last-gasp title-winner for Arsenal at Anfield.

Doncaster Rovers' James Coppinger scores THAT goal after Marcello Trotta's penalty miss at Brentford back in 2012-13.

And who can forget the pandemonium at Vicarage Road in May 2013 when Watford went from their season potentially being over to a play-off final in 18 exhilarating seconds when Leicester City missed a stoppage-time penalty and the Hornets broke away to score a semi-final winner through Troy Deeney – Huddersfield Town captain Jonathan Hogg providing the assist.

That mad spring of 2013 is a good place to start when it comes to White Rose drama. On the previous two weekends to those events in Watford, there were enough twists and turns to keep a Hollywood scriptwriter busy.

To be covering both of those key games for The Yorkshire Post was a privilege in itself.

On May 4, an incredible afternoon at the John Smith’s Stadium ended in an on-pitch love-in amid chants of ‘Yorkshire, Yorkshire’ from Huddersfield and Barnsley followers amid a joyous ‘Survival Saturday’.

Doncaster goal scorer James Coppinger celebrates his side winning the League One match at Griffin Park, Brentford. Picture: Sean Dempsey/PA.

Both secured their second-tier status after relegation rivals Peterborough lost to a 89th-minute goal at Crystal Palace.

The sight of the Reds’ keeper and captain Luke Steele, a son of Peterborough, with the ball at his feet in open play for two minutes at the end with home and away players urging him to keep it – after news of events at Selhurst Park filtered back to Yorkshire – was utterly bizarre.

It harkened back to the Germany versus Austria ‘Anschluss’ game in the 1982 World Cup.

It is also impossible to forget what happened seven days earlier on April 27 to those events at Huddersfield at the tail end of 12-13.

The venue was Brentford, albeit at their old Griffin Park home, a few goalkicks away from their splendid new abode which Leeds visit in two days time.

United will be hoping to celebrate for different reasons to Doncaster Rovers and they could do with a little less drama as well.

Rovers’ League One odyssey, which spanned almost 4,145 minutes – and over 69 hours of league football – effectively boiled down to 17 seconds of action.

The day ended with ebullient Rovers chairman John Ryan wearing his trademark 100-watt smile to accompany promotion. Plenty happened before it.

It revolved around a young striker on loan at Brentford from Fulham called Marcelo Trotta.

The substitute entered into Rovers folklore after taking a penalty that Bees captain Kevin O’Connor was supposed to take after the hosts were awarded a spot-kick in front of their expectant fans in the Ealing Road end in the fourth minute of stoppage-time and looked set to pip the visitors to automatic promotion.

The rest is history. Trotta’s effort struck the bar and Rovers broke upfield to score a winner in front of their 1,800 travelling fans courtesy of James Coppinger.

After looking destined for the play-offs, Doncaster did not just book a place in the top two but lifted the title following Bournemouth’s draw at Tranmere.

As an encore at Brentford, there was a crazy evening on the final night of the Championship season in 2019-20, which ended in Barnsley producing one of the greatest ‘Great Escapes’ from relegation of all time.

Hero status arrived for Clarke Oduor, who scored in the winner in the first minute of stoppage time – as the Reds recorded their second successive last-gasp win.

The night started with Brentford seeking to crown their last ever league game at their home of 116 years with promotion to the Premier League on an occasion which this particular reporter recalls for being asked by Reds keeper Jack Walton where the nearest off-licence was as Barnsley players sought some deserved refreshment after the game.

Unfortunately, there have been some shattering finales too. Rotherham United’s cruel heartache in Cardiff last season for one, which made this year’s finale at Gillingham so poignant.

And what about poor Scarborough in 1999 when the Seasiders were relegated at the death following the heroics of Carlisle keeper Jimmy Glass, who will never have to dip his hand into his pocket whenever he walks into a bar in the Cumbrian city after his last-gasp goal against Plymouth.

The final day does funny things. Definitely at Brentford.