We’d gone to Castleford Outlet prior to the game and when my granddaughters met a young lad in the playground with a Leeds shirt on called Oliver, they thought I should know him! As we were expecting a big crowd again, I knew it would be busy so I thought I’d avoid the motorway and come back Stourton way. Unfortunately it took longer than I thought as I somehow ended up getting lost and on my way to Wakefield. I wouldn’t mind but I’ve gone that way before so who knows where I went wrong? I had arranged to meet Richard tonight for my books as I didn’t get to Elland Road early enough on Saturday and didn’t want to get there late today. Luckily my granddaughter Hannah and I arrived at 6.20 pm in plenty of time. We headed to the Peacock first where Hannah had a good conversation with Chris Beeton and collected some LUSC fixture lists. As I sat at the table where Keith was, I had my back to fans passing behind me. I had to turn around lots as that many fans went past saying hello to me. Just after seven Richard rang to say they were nearly here so I said we’d go to Billy’s statue to meet him and his son. After a quick chat outside The Peacock with my friend Sue and her husband Paul, we waited at Billy’s statue. A big thank you to Richard for buying both Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan and The Good, The Bad and The Ugly of Leeds United. Your support is greatly appreciated. Just as I was getting ready to take a photo of Richard someone came up behind us to ask if I was selling my books to which I replied yes. Paul said he’d commented on a post of mine on social media about my friend Carole. As Keith reminded me later our first game of the season in 1972 was away at Chelsea when we lost 4-0. Carole fell down the steps and broke her ankle and went to hospital in the same ambulance as David Harvey our goalie who got injured in the game. Paul was on the Wallace Arnold coach that Carole was on and they ended up going to the hospital to wait for Carole to be sorted and pick her up! She’ll never forget that game that’s for sure! Another lad came up asking when my third book was out and I said it already was. The last time I saw him it was in the process of coming out so I’ve arranged to meet him in a few weeks to get it.
It was nice seeing lots of fans that we knew on our way into the ground and Hannah went straight up to our seats whilst I waited on the steps. Suddenly I saw Lucas the Kop Cat and knowing Hannah loves getting photos with him I shouted her down and went to get some photos. I had a quick chat with Vaughan from Halifax and got some more photos. The lad with him said he’d ended up on one of my photos recently too!
The team today was Wiedwald, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Ayling (Captain), Anita, Hernandez, Phillips, Alioski, Saiz, Wood and O’Kane. Subs were Roofe for Alioski on 63 minutes and Dallas for Saiz on 82 minutes. Booked were Anita and Phillips. Attendance was 28,918 with 576 Fulham fans.
Comments by some fans when they heard the team were that they were mystified to say the least about the selection whereas I thought it was a case of waiting to see how they would perform. It took at least 20 minutes for Leeds to settle into the game with misplaced passes though as Fulham saw plenty of the ball, they kept attacking us. There was some restlessness on the terraces by some fans too but it was more low key. During this period Fulham came close with a couple of shots before one bounced back off the bottom of the post to deny them the lead. More shots were peppered at the Leeds goal but were off target. Once we woke up, we started getting stuck into tackles with Phillips and O’Kane beginning to gel. Wood got the ball into the net just before half time when he received the ball in the penalty area in lots of space. Unfortunately the ref blew for offside but BBC Radio Leeds said later that the goal should have stood as he was onside. If the goal had stood then I think we would be looking at a completely different outcome as we would have scored more.
The second half saw Leeds come out with renewed vigour and Alioski and Saiz showed some of their touches from last week as we attacked towards the Kop. With the crowd getting behind Leeds the Fulham goalie sent two kicks straight out of play to cheers from us. We had a couple of near chances which I thought were being buried in the goal, only to see the ball had gone wide. With us attacking more Fulham were looking to catch us out by counter attacking and when they were through on goal with only our goalie to beat, Shaughnessy came out of the blue with a fantastic tackle at the last minute. Well timed isn’t the word! Fulham also ended up with just Wiedwald in front of them and he pulled off a great save to deny them the chance of going a goal up. Things started to quieten down on the terraces as a few nerves were showing amongst the Leeds support. I wanted us to up the singing to become the twelfth man as we had been doing until Roofe came on for Alioski. I felt Fulham would crack with the fans in full voice but the sting was taking out of the tail with the substitution in my opinion. We should have won the game in the final minutes when Dallas put a great cross across the box and I thought Wood would put it away. Sadly the ball wasn’t put into the net as Wood missed it by inches.
After last Saturday’s nil, nil draw I felt very frustrated but I didn’t tonight because at least we had chances and had been attacking. We are still unbeaten and at the moment our win has come away from home so it looks like we are going to have to beat Sunderland on Saturday! With Simon Grayson now managing them and the game being live on Sky again with another 5.30 pm kick off I am hoping the pressure will be off a bit. We are stopping at Green Hammerton on our way to Sunderland along with the Welsh Whites so I’m looking forward to it. See you on Saturday – LUFC – Marching on Together!