As it turned out I was very grateful that we had a late kick off today as I felt totally exhausted for some reason. At least it gave me chance to come round before I set off for Elland Road with my daughter Dani and granddaughter Hannah. Once in the Peacock we met Per Steinar and his wife from Scandinavia. We have met Per many times before but it was the first time we had met his wife. She knows all about my friend Sue and I through my books that Per had bought and it was nice to say hello. With the kick off being later it was hard to work out what time we needed to go into the ground but ended up going in a lot earlier than usual. It was also good to bump into Paul Corrigan from Ireland who helped me out with a ticket for our pre-season friendly in Dublin. With Brighton being in the top two of the table it was going to be another tough game today.
The team today was Green, Taylor, Cooper, Bartley, Berardi, Vieira, Bridcutt, Pedraza, Hernandez, Sacko and Wood. Subs were Doukara for Pedraza, Dallas for Sacko and O’Kane for Hernandez. It was a surprise to see Jansson on the bench but thought he may be carrying an injury. Attendance was 29,767 with approx. 1500 Brighton fans.
There was a great atmosphere around the ground today as we looked forward to a good game. The first thing Brighton did was turn us around so we were attacking the kop in the first half. That was a disappointment but with vociferous Leeds fans behind both goals now it doesn’t feel quite as bad as it used to do. For the first 20 minutes though we seemed to be doing a lot of passing along the back four as we played very deep. I know we like to pass the ball out from the back, but at times it was a little too close for comfort with Brighton closing us down quickly. I said to the lad next to me that we were only kidding! I did have a rant though after another close call and shouted “what tactics are they being told to do?” As it was we didn’t have to wait long after that for us to start attacking as we won our first corner of the game. We are a completely different team when we go forward rather than playing so deep. We had Green to thank again for pulling off a fantastic save but what I didn’t realise at the time; it was from one of our players when Cooper was trying to clear the ball. There was some good banter between the Kop and the Brighton goalie Stockdale who is known to be a Leeds fan. When we were chanting “you’re Leeds and you know you are” this had him turning round to us and smiling and eventually giving us a clap. I thought that was really good and nice to see. I think he is a good goalie too although I didn’t want him to keep us out today but with no score at half time that was fine.
The second half started with a lot faster pace than the first. We were attacking more but Brighton were always looking dangerous and had a couple of shots that Green was able to save with ease. We were having to battle hard to keep Brighton out but with one of our next attacks we took the lead. Charlie Taylor crossed from the left and when Wood met the ball, almost in slow motion his looping header went over their goalie and into the net to send the Leeds fans wild once more! There was real hope that we would win this game even though Brighton came close to scoring shortly afterwards and Green made another fantastic save to deny them an equaliser. We were guilty of not releasing the ball to another of our players when on the attack, which resulted in losing the ball a few times. Once it gave Brighton the chance to break away but we defended brilliantly. We were able to put the game to bed when five minutes from the end of normal time we won a penalty. It was a definite penalty and Wood stepped up to power the ball into the net from the spot to claim his second goal of the game. There were eruptions all around Elland Road then with the celebrating Leeds fans and it was great to see and be a part of. In fact Elland Road was bouncing! I was surprised to only see three minutes of extra time added on which passed very quickly. I would say the ref we had today was one of the better ones, letting the game flow even though he let some things go.
That was a good three points to get and keep us up there in the top six. I heard the Leeds fans shouting to Jansson who had come onto the pitch with the others who cool down. Although he ran up and down the pitch he did not interact with the Leeds fans at all which was very disappointing and not like him at all. I only hope nothing has gone on off the pitch but regardless, his reaction to the fans was not good.
Next week sees no game with the international break once again before the trip to Reading the following week. This game sees another 5.30pm kick off but it will be nice to go and have a good day out with the rest of the Leeds fans. Keep going Leeds and play to our strengths, let other clubs worry about us! See you there LUFC – Marching on Together!