Setting off to work in snow this morning it was good to hear that it wouldn’t last and the game wouldn’t be affected tonight. Although it was to be cold that was good to know. We didn’t arrive at the ground until after 7.00 pm and I’d thought we wouldn’t get to the Peacock but managed 15 minutes there. On our way into the ground there were plenty of fans in good spirits singing and shouting.
Today was to be the first official visit of our new co-owner Andrea Radrizzani. One of the few times he has attended Elland Road was against Newcastle when I took a photo of him in the West Stand, which made it very popular with the media. Although I hadn’t realised I’d caught him on camera it was a bit of kudos for me!
The team today was Green, Berardi, Ayling, Bartley, Coyle, Vieira, Bridcutt, Roofe, Doukara, Wood and Hernandez. Subs used were Dallas for Roofe and Mowatt for Hernandez. Attendance was 25,546 with an approximate 1,000 or so from Derby.
Listening to BBC Radio Leeds on the way there Noel Whelan read out texts from some fans and one had said they thought we’d lose with the line-up we’d got. I just thought maybe not, we’ll see. The one thing I would say I was surprised at was that Doukara kept his place from Cambridge as he had a very poor game there. He does have some strength and pace which is probably what was behind Monk’s thoughts. The game kicked off at a very fact pace though as Leeds began on the attack. We came near a few times as we won corner after corner but couldn’t put the ball into the net. The closest was a driving shot from Bridcutt that their goalie put over the top for another corner. Derby were limited to the ball for long spells as we kept driving forward looking for the break through. There was a great atmosphere around the ground too. Suddenly Derby had an attack and if I remember right it was on the 29th minute. My initial thoughts were – I hope we don’t suddenly concede a goal now after all the attacking play we had been having. Lucky for us Green was able to make the save to prevent them before we went on the attack once again.
Just before half time we had another corner and this time luck was with us when Wood headed the ball into the net to send the Elland Road crowd into raptures! What a time to get a goal and another cracker from Wood – his 17th of the season according to BBC Radio Leeds. Derby went straight down the other end from kick off only for Green to make a great save to prevent them from equalising right before the whistle went. We went in at half time deservedly in the lead plus that first 30 minutes had flown by. I had said a few weeks previously that the best form of defence is attack so I’m glad that Monk listened to me lol!!!!
At the start of the second half Derby came out fighting and put us under pressure for a while. They had made a double substitute and the blonde haired lad Will Hughes had run rings around us at Derby a few years ago. Suddenly the ball was in the back of the Leeds net which had us all looking at each other, were we grateful to see that it had been disallowed! Thank goodness as it looked like the subs had paid off. All of a sudden with the Leeds fans getting right behind the team with a great WACCOE we started to attack Derby once more. The Leeds crowd were absolutely fantastic with the best atmosphere we have had at Elland Road for a long time. The scarf waving was really getting going with WACCOE but it was also the whole ground joining in. It was after Derby had a man sent off for a second bookable offence (I didn’t realise it was Bradley Johnson who used to play for Leeds until afterwards) that some of the Derby players were wilting as the Leeds fans became the twelfth man. It’s a long time since we have had a fortress Elland Road and getting that intimidating atmosphere back although tonight came very close to that. Although Derby had a couple of chances to get back into the game the night belonged to Leeds United and our fantastic fans. Getting the three points put us up to third in the table, our highest position in the league for I don’t know how long. I cannot honestly remember the last time we played out of our skins for 80 minutes of a game and not just for half a game either. The fact it was televised will show just what is happening at Leeds and the fact is the sleeping giant has awakened and we are on our way back. There may be still a long way to go but whatever happens, we can savour the win and the atmosphere from tonight and be thankful that there is no place like home and Elland Road is the place to be! I was quite surprised to get home after the game to find our street still covered in ice and snow. At least it didn’t affect the rest of the journey.
Next Saturday sees the late kick off at Barnsley at tea time. I’ve no idea what time we are setting off but we are probably going straight there. Last time they opened the Leisure Centre for the Leeds fans to go for a drink so it is possible they will do the same again. Before that I have a small operation to go through on Monday evening so I may look a little battered the next time I see everyone. Nothing too serious I have been told and once it is out that should be it. I’ve waited over a year for this so I’m actually looking forward to getting it over. See you at Barnsley – LUFC – Marching on Together!