It was still dark as we left home this morning for the noon kick off and another live game for Sky. I was meeting my daughter Danielle in Leeds and was taking my granddaughter Hannah to her first away game with me. She was really excited and looking forward to her day out with over 7,600 Leeds fans. With there being no trains, Fullerton Park had got two coaches going today and many other supporters were travelling by coach too. With our stop at our regular haunt of Leyland, they certainly had plenty of trade today with fans standing at least four deep at the bar. Because of that I used the app for our food which took the stress out of queuing.
We arrived at the services to be escorted to the ground just as there was a convoy of coaches being taken down to the ground. I was pleased to see that the police weren’t messing about as we headed after them approx. five minutes later going past all the queuing traffic on the opposite side of the road. There were loads of Leeds fans doing the salute to the coaches as we passed by with hardly any Blackburn fans in sight. As we were escorted past the ground we began to wonder where we were being taken but were turning round at the end of the road, coming back and parking on the street. It was too late to go into the fan zone but it was good to see that being put in place for our fans once again. As Danielle and Hannah headed to the upper stand I went into the bottom stand, straight to the front to put my flag up.
The team: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi and Roofe (both back from injury), Jansson, Cooper, Phillips, Klich, Alioski, Saiz, Roberts and Dallas. Subs were: Hernandez for Roofe (70), Clarke for Dallas (76) and Shackleton for Berardi (86) Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Klich getting our goal right at the end of injury time in the first half (90+1). Attendance was 20,029 with 7,717 Leeds fans. Well done to Ella from our branch; she normally travels on our coach and was our mascot for the game.
As Leeds kicked off we went straight on the attack but the final ball was mishit straight to their player. With their first attack they came straight to the goal in front of us ending with two corners one after the other. We were left with an uphill battle once again when from the second one, their player bullied us to head the ball straight into the top left hand side of the goal right in front of us. My first thoughts were why did we not have anyone defending on both sides of the goal as Bremner and Reaney used to do? It may be that they couldn’t have done anything about the first goal but when they scored a similar goal for their second, it would have made a difference I’m sure, especially as that turned out to be the winner.
Saiz brought a save out of their goalie and we had to thank Peacock-Farrell a couple of times for stopping them taking a further lead. With the Leeds support getting behind the team, we were frustrated to see passes going astray and when we did win corners, Alioski’s first few crosses were below par. In fact it looked like the players were disjointed and Bielsa hadn’t got the line up right from the start for this game. I’d said before the game that I hadn’t seen us have square pegs in round holes this season as everyone gets to play all over the pitch so it hadn’t been apparent. I think I should have kept my mouth shut especially with Dallas at right back although he swapped sides with Berardi later on. We have a great young player in Pearce who can play at left back in his rightful position and I would much rather play him than put Dallas in either position where he hasn’t impressed me. There was a lot of frustration from the Leeds fans when we kept playing the ball out from the back but going from side to side until we could work our way forwards. As someone commented on the fact that we had been found out, I said we had to work out a different way to overcome them. We got one minute of injury time as we played out from the back, I said it would take us the full minute to get to the far end of the pitch. As we got to the far end after 13 passes in 45 seconds, the ball was in the net to equalise. What a relief that was to get the goal just before the whistle blew. We all agreed we had played to our strengths along the floor because any high balls were being mopped up by their set of giants in both attack and defence. I wondered what was in the water over here as well as what they were feeding them!
I went downstairs to hear some lads say we didn’t deserve it; I said the team was being patient in their build ups whereas the patience amongst many fans had worn thin, but we all agreed we would take the fact we had equalised. As the lad next to me in the seats said, how many times have we not deserved to have penalties, free kicks etc. given against us, so we need things to even themselves out and go our way instead.
The second half saw Leeds straight on the attack and it looked like we would take the game by the scruff of the neck. At times we did do that but we weren’t consistent enough. A couple of times we waited for the ball to go out rather than get it, only for Blackburn to nip in and take the ball off our toes. As we waited for Hernandez to come on as sub I wondered why he hadn’t come on before realising it was because Blackburn had got a free kick. Unfortunately they got a corner out of it which resulted in Blackburn scoring their second goal of the game. I was cross that we hadn’t learnt our lesson from the first half and put players on both posts as we could have avoided that one and kicked the ball off the line. When Roofe was battling in the left hand corner near us to keep the ball from going out for a goal kick, he was holding his own until there were two of them attacking him. No one could believe it when the linesman put his flag up to give the free kick against us. As the conspiracy theories against us grow, we all feel that the officials don’t even hide it now with their outrageous decisions that are so blatantly against us. Saiz brought out a great save from their goalie before we had two penalty shouts, one for a foul and one for hand ball. I would need to see them again but after my neighbour said on my return home, he’d heard them say on the TV that we had been robbed; there must have been something in the non-decisions.
Unfortunately we couldn’t manage an equaliser, despite the pressure put on by our players in the last minutes of the game. As the final whistle blew and we had our second defeat of the season, the dreaded curse of after the international break, a large away support from us, plus the early kick off have once again raised their head sadly.
Thanks for my chocolates and Galway Whites badge Paul. After doing an away fan review for Dirk Copland of Blackburn Roverseas prior to the game I did a follow up one afterwards as requested too.
Thanks to Helen for buying my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United Season 2017-18. Talking about my books I just wanted to remind those fans who are thinking of Christmas presents that autographed copies are available from me. Just let me know where and when to meet and I’ll sort it out. There are some great stories of life as a Leeds United fan ranging from the seventies until now, which cemented our loyal support for our team and is why we have the support we have today.
We move on to Wednesday’s game against Ipswich at home when we have to pick ourselves up and get something out of the game. Having not picked up many points of late we do need to turn things round and soon. There were always going to be ups and downs and I feel that having the right team on the pitch at the start of the game is very important. See you Wednesday LUFC – Marching on Together!
Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years
Author of the following books:
Follow Me and Leeds United
Once a Leeds fan, Always a Leeds fan
Co-author with Andrew Dalton of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
My interview takes place between 10 and 16 minuites