LUFC TSA: Were you there when Billy scored twice?
Tim Steere writes his usual weekly article for Vital Leeds United and this week he talks about striker Billy Paynter`s two goals against Peterborough United last weekend and his overall time at Elland Road in two seasons with the club.
There are few things in football that leaves you with a genuine smile on your face.
But I must admit when Billy Paynter got the first of his brace on Saturday, I was not only happy that Leeds had scored, but I was honestly so delighted for Billy.
He arrived from Swindon after a fine goalscoring season in 2009/10 with Swindon in League One, amassing 29 goals, Paynter was a man in demand.
He formed a formidable partnership with Simon Cox the previous season, before his departure to West Brom and then with Charlie Austin.
The scousers stock was rising. His two goals against Leeds in a 3-0 drubbing at Elland Road showed what he was capable of. I think any manager at that point would want to take a chance on him.
When he turned down a new deal at Swindon to join Leeds in the summer of 2010, it was an exciting signing. He joined on a free transfer and instantly Leeds had a new number nine; an exciting number striker who was coveted by many clubs. He was also filling the shoes of Jermaine Beckford. This was a monumental task after the former Wealdstone strikers fine few seasons at the club.
Nevertheless, this was seen as good a replacement as possible with limited funds at our disposal, we all know why.
In our first season back in the Championship, this was Paynter`s chance to shine. However, from day one like with many people who join the club, injury seems to strike.
Starting in pre-season, he was ruled out for two months with a shin injury. He finally made his debut as a sub in the 4-1 win over Scunthorpe. His Elland Road debut came against Hull in November and his full debut did not come until December 28th against Portsmouth.
But as for goals and the overall success most Leeds fans were hoping for, it just never happened for him.
Interestingly though, the Leeds fans never made him a scapegoat. There was a genuine feeling from the Elland Road faithful for him to succeed. After seeing how he played for Swindon, we knew how talented he was and how much of an honest hardworking player he was.
Then, at last, it came. At Deepdale, 8 March 2011. Billy Paynter got his first senior goal for Leeds United.
I was there with the large away contingent of 5,000. Paynter scored in front of the Leeds fans and instantly the Leeds fans chanted Billy`s name. You could tell how pleased Billy was with us for the support. And he deserved it. For the rest of the game, songs about Billy Paynter rang out from the Leeds fans as Leeds went on to win 2-1. But there was only one talking point (despite Neil Kilkenny`s amazing long range effort).
Again, it was a false dawn for Paynter. A red card against Sheffield United and once again the number nine was on the sidelines. The season ended with one goal in 23 appearances.
At the start of this season his only brief appearance game as a sub in the opening game against Southampton, I would call it the Dell debacle, cause that sounds like a pun and really clever. But the buggers have moved grounds and I can`t think of a pun relating to 'St Mary`s`.
The gulf in class showed that day, and Paynter was not seen for a long time. He was due to start against Bradford in the Carling Cup, but injured again. Andy Keogh came in.
Simon Grayson then allowed Paynter to go to Brighton on loan where 10 appearances under Gus Poyet again produced no goals.
The arrival of Mikael Forssell and Luciano Becchio recovering from a long-term injury in the first couple of months meant Paynter`s future looked bleak.
The departure of Grayson meant a fresh start for Paynter, and Warnock`s arrival meant a few appearances as a sub off the bench. His first full start of the season came last Saturday against Peterborough.
Warnock started him because of his efforts and sharpness in training. Starting in place of a tired Becchio, Paynter took his time to get into the match and understandably so, but his work rate cannot be faulted. This is why Leeds fans want him to succeed; he always tries and never complains. He had chances to leave permanently, but he said he wanted to stay and fight for his place.
When Jones in the Peterborough goal spilled a Tom Lees cross, Paynter was there in the right place to tap in, and the relief on his face at finally scoring at Elland Road was clear to see.
When he fired in his second from 12 yards out, it was an accomplished finish. It was the kind of finish that most 20 goal a season strikers would be content with. And it`s very rare I get goosebumps from a goal, but I was just genuinely pleased for him. We all tease about his goalscoring record and compare him to Andy Carroll, but you can`t help but smile after those two goals.
Whether or not he will be around in the Warnock revolution is unclear, Somma is due to come back in pre-season (remember him, he was a really impressive striker), plus Becchio, Forssell and McCormack, his two strikes that afternoon took him to 19 goals, he may not fit in.
If he does move on in the summer, I wish nothing but success. He`s been unlucky with injuries, but never once has moaned or complained, he`s just been desperate to succeed here and show the Leeds fans what he can do.
Unfortunately for Billy, he picked up an Achilles injury against Blackpool ruling him out for the season, which may be his last chance gone to impress in the final few games.
If it is and he moves on in the summer, then all the best Billy. Never has one man who has scored just three goals brought me so many genuinely happy memories.
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