Brentford v Leeds United 22nd April 2019 at Griffin Park

After having no nerves up to now, today’s game had a different feel to it. Despite sleeping on the way to the services which I thought would take my mind off things, my stomach churning started with a vengeance. After the Wigan defeat which was a real downer, it felt like we’d blown our chances of automatic promotion. That has been my choice of guaranteeing promotion for us as we don’t do play offs so even though we’d still be in the latter, it didn’t help my mood. I still sent out a tweet first thing today though saying “We can still do it Leeds. Keep fighting until the final whistle blows.” We’ve got to have a positive mental attitude despite the nervousness and I want us to raise the roof as fans for the full 90+ minutes and make the team play out of their skins. The reality though was as I feared, we lost the game and although not mathematically certain at this point, are resigned to the playoffs. With the meltdown underway on social media what I will say is that it doesn’t matter if we’d have taken the play offs at the start of the season; the reality is that we’ve blown automatic when it was in our hands. If we’d been in the chasing pack it would have been a fantastic achievement yes, but we weren’t. As usual Leeds United have demoralised their loyal support once more as we’ve seen it too many times. That saying, the season isn’t over yet and if by some miracle we do pull this one out of the bag and achieve promotion by the play offs for once in our lives, I’d be over the moon. All we can do is to be there as usual and give them our support like we did at the final whistle today. I’m very downbeat at the moment but once I’ve slept on things it never seems as bad. The sad thing is though unless by some miracle we pull it off and win the playoffs, we will have thrown it away which is hard to take.

It was a beautiful warm and sunny day when we arrived at the ground for the tea time kick off which meant once again that we were playing catch up with those above us having played already. The Leeds crowd were still in a jovial mood though ready for us to take the bull by the horns and get a win despite our poor record at this ground. As we got in the ground although I was in the seats I went to the front of the standing terrace below to hang my flag at the front. 

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Alioski, Bamford, Roberts, Harrison, Forshaw, Klich and Hernandez. Subs: Dallas for Alioski (12), Roofe for Roberts (58) and Clarke for Jansson (64). Leeds lost the game 2-0 and putting them out of the automatic promotion spots, three points behind with an inferior goal difference. Attendance was 11,580 with 1,680 Leeds fans.

From the word go we looked up for it and should have had a cast iron penalty when Bamford was brought down in the box. As I hadn’t put my glasses on I had to rely on other fans’ judgements on that but replays later showed the ref was only a few feet away and ignored the call. When Alioski went down injured after 12 minutes Dallas was straight up and ready to come on. As he went off so early it felt as if we’d lost one of our sub options too early and he shouldn’t have started the game in the first place. As Brentford attacked us in the initial stages I thought they should have had a free kick at the edge of the box in front of us but the ref said play on. He got the decision right where their player went down in the box as we clearly got the ball. The one decision where the ball hit a Brentford player that was at least a foot inside the box and went out over the line and should have been a corner to us was a bad decision against us. We were put on the back foot and had Casilla to thank for making a superb save to keep the scores level. The longer the game went on without us scoring though was not good but I just wanted to keep Brentford out especially just before half time. Sadly for us we let them run through us and score in the 44th minute giving us an uphill struggle. If only Roberts had managed to equalise straight after their goal when he had the goalie to beat, it would have been a different game.

At half time I heard Leeds fans were coming to blows with each other sadly due to disagreements about players. The last thing I want us to do is fight amongst ourselves. I learnt a long time ago that you will never get everyone to agree to the same thing and there will always be different opinions. Even if I don’t agree with them, they are still entitled to voice their opinion as I have mine and we have to accept that without turning on each other. Agree to disagree!

The second half found us start well but then we just didn’t look like scoring although we came close in the last few minutes. The worst thing happened with Brentford scoring a second, then nearly getting a third and putting any fight back beyond us. With the home crowd taunting the Leeds fans about not going up I was pig sick that it had come to this. Before the end I went downstairs to retrieve my flag and the Leeds fans cheered me up by singing and still getting behind the team. The club doesn’t deserve the support it has in certain aspects especially for the stalwarts who have been there and seen us let down so many times before. Hearing our younger fans saying they’d travelled all this way to see this rubbish is sad.

It’s not over until the fat lady sings or so the saying goes and I will always live in hope and support my team. I know it’s hard and although demoralised at this moment in time thinking we won’t win any play off, I will get over that in the coming days. I am proud to be a Leeds fan and as always the lack of football in the 90 minutes gets in the way of a good day out. Keep the faith no matter how hard it is. The statistics may say we have fantastic possession, but it is the end result with goals scored that counts where we have been sadly lacking and looks to have cost us. Next Sunday sees our last home game of the season against Aston Villa who have picked themselves up to have a 10 game unbeaten run. As always we need to win and you never know, things could still go to the wire with Sheffield Utd despite it seeming pie in the sky at this moment. For once we had a good run with no motorway detours and I was back at home 20 minutes after midnight. I’m heading off to Guiseley to watch the under 23s tonight where we have helped to have a sellout crowd. It will be nice to have a break from the pressures of the Championship and see how our youngsters perform. See you at either Guiseley or Elland Road – 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

Back to Reality, Leeds United Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC, Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United