Brighton photos 29th February 2016
As the Covid situation has had a severe impact on the sales of my last book Leeds are going to the Premier League, it is possible that my next book will be my last one. As it takes a lot of effort in writing my blog and turning them into books, maybe our first season back in the Premier League brings the books to a natural end. Although I will never be a salesperson, my marketing takes place at games and meeting up with fans in person.
Team: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Struijk, Alioski, Koch, Bamford, Dallas, Harrison, Roberts and Klich. Subs: Poveda for Alioski (45), Rodrigo for Bamford (59) and Hernandez for Llorente (79). Subs not used: Casilla, Berardi, Cody Drameh, Shackleton, Jenkins and Huggins. Leeds lost the game 2-0. Referee: Chris Kavanagh. Booked: Ayling.
Finding out Phillips was injured with a calf injury just before the game kicked off was a blow. Koch on his return from injury would be playing in front of the back four alongside Klich. In one of our first attacks there was a foul from behind on our player, but no foul was given. Meslier was called into early action to make a couple of saves. Roberts was brought down on the wing and the resulting free kick taken by Harrison saw Klich win a corner. Brighton were then awarded a soft penalty against Alioski after he kept impeding their player in the box when trying to win the ball. Meslier was very unlucky not to save it as he guessed the right way, but there was too much power to the ball. This is not a happy hunting ground for us here and recollections of us being 4-0 at half time a few years ago came to mind. The best thing about that game was the input from Leeds fans underneath the stands. Tony Winstanley’s song, Oh Leeds United, I’m so delighted, I chose you as my football team, had a global airing that day. That penalty decision against Alioski seemed to have an impact on his performance. A good run from Dallas was put out for a corner which was taken by Harrison, but we could still not get the ball past the first man. Playing without Phillips is something we will have to work on as we were looking disjointed as a team.
Llorente took a long shot with their keeper off his line but although worth a shot, the ball went over the goal. Harrison’s cross into the penalty area after some good work from Bamford saw Brighton come under pressure for the first time with a mix up from their player and keeper. Harrison then had a shot saved by their keeper. With Bamford losing out on the ball on the goal line their keeper got the ball but had all the time in the world to take a kick as no one put him under pressure. Roberts had stayed back but as soon as he put the effort in a few minutes later, he won the ball back. Their player kneed Ayling in the face when he went to head the ball then tried dragging him up off the floor.
We were not out of the game yet as Harrison shot wide after a good build up, but it felt like it was going to be one of those games today. Leeds continued attacking with first Alioski and then Ayling after a good run down the wing from Dallas, winning corners. Another corner saw the ball come out to Roberts who saw his powerful shot blocked by their player on the arm. Dallas took a corner that brought an easy catch for their keeper. We really needed to make corners count especially when another one failed to make an impact. Llorente went down after a challenge after receiving a boot on his ribs. To me Brighton were being very sly with their fouls but getting away with them. They won their first corner just before half time and play was stopped as Leeds came away with the ball, even though their player went down after a challenge from his own teammate. As he got up straight away there was no need to blow the whistle in my opinion. Brighton ended the half on the attack and could have put the game to bed. Leeds had tried playing out from the back but Llorente was caught out as the ball was crossed in the box, but they put the ball over with an open goal in front of them. Ben White ran the ball over the line after a long run and then they had another shot wide. Leeds tried coming forwards again, but we had no end product. It was not a classic game by any means as we went in at half time losing by that early penalty.
Alioski was replaced by Poveda at the start of the second half but the first chance went to Brighton but was over the goal. Dallas had moved to left back but as our midfield wasn’t effective, we could have done with him there. Brighton were another team who looked to be raising their game to play us. Poveda was given a right push off the ball in the penalty area by their player but nothing was said to him by the referee. The same challenge with less power won Leeds a free kick later in the game plus their soft penalty was given for minimal contact, what was the difference? Brighton came close to scoring again as Meslier came out and luckily got a touch to the ball to put it behind their attackers. After good work between Poveda, Roberts and Dallas the final cross was caught by their keeper. It was noticeable that Brighton had many giants in their defence but even though Ayling had a low shot, this was blocked too. They were also packing their defence with 11 men so it would need something special to get through them in one of those frustrating games.
Rodrigo coming back from injury replaced Bamford who had been given no support up front. His first challenge saw their player go down very easily and win a free kick. Brighton were still looking dangerous going forward and luckily Harrison blocked their shot but there were shouts for hand ball; unbelievable as the ball hit his chest. They were in space again and shot wide. Some good play from Poveda saw him keep the ball whilst under pressure. Dallas was then nudged off the ball and given a free kick before their player was booked for a foul with 15 minutes left. Leeds were very unlucky with a Dallas shot just over the bar. When Hernandez was brought on, I couldn’t believe it when Llorente was the player subbed. It didn’t have the impact Bielsa was looking for as Brighton were straight on the attack, we didn’t clear the ball far enough and they scored a second goal a minute later. Ayling then received a booking for blocking their player and not getting out of the way.
We had not played well today but Brighton had packed their defence to frustrate us once they had taken that early lead, so we were up against it even more. We did not have any answers to getting past them in a bad day at the races as the final score showed we had been beaten 2-0. It was a relief to hear the final whistle blow to put us out of our misery. Whatever happens we have done well with four games left until the end of this season, which has been unprecedented being played behind closed doors.
Whether it was the game itself that made me feel exhausted or the second Covid jab I had during the week, I am glad we have a week to recover before our next game. That is nothing compared to Phil Hay who has just had brain surgery to remove a benign tumour this week. I wish him a speedy recovery. Tuesday will see me finally visit Elland Road again to go and pick up our crowdies although I can find no details about the one, I did for my granddaughters. It will certainly pull at the heart strings being back there that is for sure. LUFC – Marching on Together!