After telling someone on Thursday that I don’t expect anyone to leave us in the January transfer window and also I wasn’t going to count my chickens just yet as to where Leeds will finish at the end of the season, I came home to hear the news that Saiz was on his way. Things had been mooted a while ago that he wasn’t happy but I was very disappointed to hear this. Later Moscow White on Twitter put more insight into the decision and it looks like the club has been very supportive of them. It turns out his wife is due to give birth having already lost the twin of this due baby. Having had problems with the birth of their first daughter including a cancer scare for mum around the same time, I can totally understand that being here instead of near their family in Spain, would make them want to return to be near them. As Saiz has a loan with a view to buy, who knows how this will pan out in the future. As someone who lost a baby tragically at 17 days old and having subsequent pregnancies, I can say that the fear of something going wrong never leaves you. Even now, the sheer panic that a child isn’t just going to be ill but will die envelops me. Good luck to them all.
As we headed to Bolton who were at the bottom of the league and once again having money problems with their players and staff being unpaid (not sure if that’s been sorted as yet), for the life of me I couldn’t understand why they hadn’t given us more tickets? We’d sold out in minutes once again and last time they had been in trouble they gave us at least 7,000 tickets. Surely selling us more tickets could have immediately helped with their cash flow? Obviously not!
I went to Elland Road early as the weather forecast of snow and freezing rain, although not due till at least 10am in Halifax, meant I wanted to get there in time for the coach. Getting home after would sort itself out. I decided to look for a specific Bremner stone in the Lucas Radebe area. As I saw quite a few names I recognised I took some photos then found my freezing fingers nearly dropped off!
We stopped off in Bury before the game and had a decent time there today. With the White Rose branch in too, I’d like to say a big thank you to Gary Noble for buying my latest book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18. As always I am grateful for the support. After hearing one of the barmaids saying she’d been in Valencia to see that red team over the Pennines, it reminded me of a tweet I’d seen this week. Outside the ground in Valencia had been painted – Scum free zone, a Leeds badge and a painted Hernandez portrait. On the day of the game, the red fans had complained so someone painted over the scum free zone but left the rest. It was quite bizarre really.
As we got to the ground the weather had deteriorated as the rain came down. I had taken my flag with me today and put it up at the top of the stairwell but as a part of it came down, I retied it. After taking photos I headed to my seat for the start of the game.
The Team: Peacock-Farrell, Phillips, Jansson, Hernandez (Captain), Shackleton, Roofe, Klich, Forshaw, Baker, Douglas and Alioski. Subs: Clarke for Baker (46), Bamford for Roofe (61) and Halme for Hernandez (90). Leeds won the game 1-0 with Bamford scoring five minutes after coming on. Attendance was 17,484 with 4,550 Leeds fans. Looking at the spaces on the Bolton terraces I find that attendance hard to believe to be honest.
As the game kicked off, Leeds immediately went on the attack and their goalie prevented Leeds taking an early lead by tipping Hernandez’s effort over the bar. We won plenty of corners in the opening part of the game and had plenty of the ball. The ref kept the flow of the game going by playing on and not blowing his whistle for every challenge which was good. We had quite a few misplaced passes but did look the better of the teams. Even though we had the majority of the game, with the rare attacks that Bolton had, I was always wary that they would get a goal against the run of play. Shackleton was playing well which was good to see. When I looked at my watch 36 minutes had already passed before the game petered out in the last minutes of the half as things quietened on the terraces. With the terrible conditions of driving rain on the pitch, it wasn’t a surprise really.
I went downstairs and as I was making my way back across the stand all of a sudden I smelt Sulphur as we were nearly gassed out by a yellow flare or whatever they want to call it. It was awful as I struggled to breathe as I was full of cold. I’m sorry but I won’t ever agree that it is right to let these things off in the middle of a crowd! There is no thought for any other fan caught up in it and should be knocked on the head although I doubt it will be.
With Clarke brought on in place of Baker at the start of the second half I was looking forward to a turn around. The atmosphere on the terraces picked up as Leeds went on the attack. It was good to see Clarke with some great footwork beating their players to put them under pressure. When Bamford was brought on as sub, I said that I hadn’t been sure if he’d play with the atrocious conditions but Bielsa will know what he’d doing. Within five minutes the ball was in the back of the net in front of us as Clarke had been involved first, the ball came across to Hernandez who did a nutmeg on their player and a first time strike from Bamford was put into the net. I thought it was nice seeing Bamford race over to the bench and celebrate with I thought the trainers who’d helped him get over his recent injury.
Towards the end of the game Bolton got into it more as they went in search of an equaliser. As their player went down in the penalty area my heart was in my mouth but the ref said play on. I didn’t realise they’d had one kicked off the line by Douglas as I’d gone to retrieve my flag before the end of the game. I’d tied it that many times to stop it falling down that it took me ages to untie it, although thanks to the lads who helped me on that score. In the last few minutes we seemed to be staying back and letting Bolton attack us which I didn’t like. It ended with Halme coming on to help us defend and keep the lead. Another three points and five out of five wins saw us go top of the league as Norwich were kicking off at 5.30 pm. They ended up drawing by scoring another late goal giving them a point which meant we stayed top.
The journey back to Leeds saw really bad conditions on the roads so I was glad I wasn’t driving at that point. We still had issues driving back home with plenty of water standing including ice in Halifax, but at least got home safe and sound. Next Sunday is our last game before Christmas at Aston Villa. Just keep doing what we are doing and grinding out wins and see if we can end the year on a high. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!