Sheffield United v Leeds United 1st December 2018 at Bramall Lane

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We caught the coach at Elland Road on another miserable and wet day to head to the lunchtime kick off that had been put back 30 minutes for Sky. Having just read on Twitter that a Leeds fan had arrived at the ground saying it was very quiet, we couldn’t help laughing when it turned out they were at Hillsborough, oops! Our coach driver then forgot to pull off on one junction of the M1 to pick some of our fans up so we had a detour. On hearing some trains were also delayed I hoped that was the end of things going wrong. Luckily we were still in the first group of coaches who got escorted to the ground for the relatively short journey.

As we got off the coach and headed back to the shop for a Costa, loads and loads of riot police were arriving and it felt very intimidating but also way over the top. As we passed the turnstiles someone with a camera turned to point it at us as we went by but I’ve no idea who it was. If I thought the silly things had finished happening they hadn’t, but as usual I think I surpassed that. As we made our way to the front of the stand, I told the stewards I was going to put my flag at the front. Wrong! I stood there as the realisation dawned on me that the reason my bag felt lighter was, because, I’d taken it out for our home games as it only goes to away games! I couldn’t believe I’d been so stupid but never mind, I got photos of the rest that were displayed including the Remembrance one by one of the Thames Valley Whites. I have to say it is absolutely beautiful. I then heard someone had left their ticket at home too and had to ask for a duplicate to be picked up at the ground. With that I said we’d had our fair share of things not going our way so things can only get better, especially as we hadn’t won here since 1992. There were some Argentinian fans here due to the Bielsa effect so I took photos of them too. I took a photo of the Sheff Utd mascot who then indicated he wanted a photo with me. With that, I think it was our photographer who raced over to get a photo too.

The team: Peacock-Farrell, Jansson (back after injury), Cooper, Phillips, Douglas, Hernandez, Alioski, Roofe, Klich, Dallas and Forshaw. Subs: Halme for Cooper (went off with a serious injury) (21), Clarke for Alioski (46) and Shackleton for Hernandez (90). Leeds won the game 1-0 with Hernandez scoring our goal (82). Attendance was 25,794 with 2,243 Leeds fan.

Jansson returned to the defence for the game after his recent injury. At least we didn’t have a repeat of last season when we were a goal down within a couple of minutes. Things were fairly even to begin with although I couldn’t help noticing they had a couple of giant players who were able to bully us off the ball. A couple of times they managed to come straight through the middle to attack us and with one, I can’t remember who, but one of our players tussled with a Sheffield player to win the ball. Cooper behind them went down and I didn’t think he’d been involved in the tussle but I knew he was in trouble when he hit the ground in frustration. What surprised me was seeing him limping off between two of our trainers. With how bad he looked I thought they’d carry him off but they didn’t.  Young Halme came on and he straight away got involved. I felt that by having his debut recently, that had helped him because his maturity today showed immensely in my opinion. Apart from one header that put us under pressure and brought a great save out of Peacock-Farrell in the second half, I didn’t think he put a foot wrong which was great to see. Before half time Sheff Utd did put us under pressure and come close to scoring but we ended the half on the upper foot. Our passing was causing lots of frustrations for them with some bad fouls which resulted in deserved bookings for them.

Alioski had been replaced by Clarke again at the start of the second half. The one thing that I’d noticed about Alioski was him sticking close to one of their giants and although he was bullied a lot, it looked like he was frustrating their player. He was also standing at one or the other of the goal posts when we were defending corners, so I’m glad to see my rants about not having anyone on the line have been listened to lol! The second half seemed to start quietly for us and it was a shame we’d had to stop for the break when we were on the up. Sheff Utd also started to attack us again but my thoughts were that they’d start off well and then calm down again. At that time I thought Bielsa needed to change things but when he didn’t, my instincts were that he knew what he was doing and I had to trust his judgement. We started getting on top and when a great cross was put across the box it was a shame it didn’t result in a goal. The linesman to the left of us needed to borrow my glasses as he didn’t seem to be able to tell when a ball was in or out. With one that gave us an advantage when I’m sure it was out, it would have been a case of poetic justice for once if it had resulted in a goal.  We eventually did get that breakthrough when Clarke chased their goalie who took one step too far. Clarke won the ball, passed it to Hernandez in acres of space in the middle, who slammed the ball into the net to send everyone wild in the stand behind the goal. We came under pressure in the last few minutes but were able to see the game out and get the win to the delight of the Leeds fans. My daughter Dani said there were some Leeds fans to the left of the stand we were in who came down doing the Leeds salute. I love the fact that we will always know who our fans are!

As I waited for Dani to come out of the stand, Steph passed me and told me I wasn’t allowed to bring my flag anymore and Paul also said the same thing to me outside too. Some lads said “we need to get a photo, this is from the Leeds 1919 site”. As we got back on the coach someone shouted that we had to sit at the back of the coach again next time which we’d had to do, as someone had already been in our regular seats. I’m not sure if we’ve been relegated or promoted to the back, but all these superstitions were seen coming out again today. Old habits die hard I’m afraid as a Leeds fan. We were back in Leeds in no time and I had another detour to make to Guiseley to a family 18th party before getting home. I’m sure we will have another full house against QPR at Elland Road now, especially as we had a brief spot of being top of the league before Norwich snatched it back off us. It is very tight at the top but as I’ve said before, anyone can beat anyone in this division. We just need to keep up there with the others challenging and see where we are in the coming months. Just get as many points as we can and who knows at this point where we will be. See you next week, LUFC – Marching on Together!