Manchester City v Leeds United 10th April 2021 at the Etihad

Follow Me and Leeds United blog by Heidi Haigh – Manchester City v Leeds United 10th April 2021 at the Etihad 

The photo was taken by me in the Leeds United Supporters Club on Fullerton Park during the seventies when we played Man City at Elland Road.

Once the game kicked off, I was fine, but before that I wanted to cry. I just can’t get the same enthusiasm pre-game when I know I can’t go to the game in person.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Phillips, Alioski, Bamford, Raphinha, Dallas, Roberts, Costa (replaces Harrison as he is not allowed to play as he is on loan from city) and Llorente. Subs: Struijk for Bamford (45), Koch for Roberts (63) and Shackleton for Raphinha (90+5). Subs not used: Casilla, Poveda, Hernandez, Berardi, Gelhardt and Klich. Leeds won the game 2-1 with Dallas scoring a brace (42 & 90+1). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Andre Marriner. Booked: Cooper (red) and Alioski.

There was a two-minute silence as a mark of respect after the death of Prince Phillip, Duke of Edinburgh yesterday with black armbands worn by the players. I was looking forward to a good game but suddenly got extremely nervous, knowing we were up against a good team but feeling that we had to do well today. After having two magpies for good luck in my garden this morning, I was waiting to see if that worked in our favour.

A good run by Raphinha but his cross into the box was behind our player but could have been in a good position to score. Players from both sides were slipping all over the pitch in the opening minutes taking me back to how ours had been earlier this season. There were flashes from both sides in winning corners, but nothing came of them. Another great run from Raphinha saw him cross the ball in the box. Bamford was coming in behind the defender and thought he was was getting the ball so was unprepared when it came through just behind him. What a shame as that would have been a good goal scoring opportunity. With city closing us down well there wasn’t a lot of space to work with, but Costa kept going to win the ball. City attacked us again and two good blocks from their corner, first from Cooper and the second from Bamford kept them out. Costa again came away with the ball after some good work but seemed to slow up with a city player breathing down his neck.

Some nice defending from Dallas before some silly passing around the back four put us under pressure and in trouble but luckily, we got the ball away. We cannot afford to give the impetus to a team like city. A fantastic ball from Raphinha to Roberts ended with a corner to Leeds. Raphinha’s corner did not beat the first man so Phillips took our second corner, but nothing came of it. A back pass to Meslier saw the ball go under his foot but as he was far enough out, he got to the ball in time to get it back again. A city attack saw Meslier save with his feet to keep the score at 0-0 then they won a free kick as their player went down easily with Roberts chasing him.

A foul on Bamford earned their player a booking but the free kick from Raphinha went straight to their man who cleared it. Meslier made the save from a low shot before city had another chance but the final shot was wide. Phillips was battling to keep the ball when he received a kick, but the referee played on. He then spoke to Phillips who must have said something to him. The commentators said that Leeds hadn’t had a shot on goal in the first 35 minutes. No, we had not, but on 42 minutes we were in the lead!! Costa’s persistence paid off as he got the ball to Bamford; he laid it off for Dallas to hit the ball off the inside of the post and into the net for Leeds to take the lead. That was good timing to score just before half time but things turned on their head shortly after that. As city came back on the attack Cooper got booked but he had played the ball first. I thought that was an unjust booking even though their player stayed down. The referee then consulted with VAR and took back the yellow card only to give him a straight red card instead, as Cooper had caught their player’s back leg with his studs. That was hardlines for Cooper as I thought the referee had rescinded the yellow card altogether, as momentum carried him forward after winning the ball. Bielsa made a tactical substitution then and brought on Struijk for Bamford. With three minutes injury time to play, the referee played nearly six minutes and why, I have no idea.

The second half saw their player fall down with hardly any contact and when we got a push in the back our player carried on. We were going to have 45 minutes of city attacks and would have to rely on break away attacks from Leeds. Good defending from first Alioski then Phillips putting the ball out for a corner kept up that siege mentality with our backs against the wall. A great save from Meslier saw him react quickly to get the ball at the second attempt. Their player stood on Meslier’s hand when he had got both hands on the ball and didn’t even get pulled up by the referee for it! The difference to some of their players being wet blankets and going down at the slightest contact showed a lot. Meslier was catching the ball and commanding his area well as he made another save.  Koch was brought on to replace Roberts before Alioski found himself in the book for a foul.

Meslier tipped the ball over the top from a long range shot then made another save shortly after. When City brought Foden on as sub, it did make me feel slightly anxious and my fears were true to form when they equalised. Their man was left on his own in the penalty area but Meslier slipped just before their final shot to score. We had been mainly camped in our penalty area but had been man marking up until then. As there had been constant attacks from man city, it was not surprising they had scored really. Leeds managed to win a free kick that Costa won and had Struijk and Llorente in their box, but city got the ball and raced forward to attack us. As our players raced back in defence their player was brought down to give us a reprieve as they were awarded a free kick. Alioski blocked a shot for a corner and then some good play from Phillips saw Leeds defending well.

Raphinha started to get forwards and was brought down which got them a booking. Shortly after this after a great ball from Phillips, Raphinha was through again with just the keeper to beat. As he tried to swap feet the keeper won the ball with his feet to prevent Leeds taking the lead again. The last five minutes had seen the game opening up a bit as Leeds started looking for a winner. Phillips was awarded man of the match. Meslier made a save and then threw the ball straight out to the wing for Alioski to send a great ball through for Dallas. He ran forward and whilst battling with the defender, nutmegged the keeper to put Leeds back into the lead in injury time. I was screaming like a banshee as well as thousands of Leeds United fans around the world, as the team including Meslier celebrated in the right-hand corner of the pitch. What a goal Leeds and it looked as if it was going to be the winner. When play resumed, Raphinha was through again but brought down with a bad foul that only got them a booking. I could not believe it when the referee once again had to play three minutes injury time but had already played five minutes. Apart from us scoring and celebrating, there was nothing that held the game up. With Raphinha injured in that tackle he was replaced by Shackleton for the final minute. With 96 minutes on the clock the referee blew for time and Leeds had won 2-1 and beaten the league leaders to go into 9th place in the table. After each minute of the second half dragging for so long whilst under attack from city, it was a great team performance and a ground out win..

What a morale booster that second goal from Dallas was as old habits die hard and every goal we score, gives cause for celebrations. I would have loved it even better in that away end today though! The win today was dedicated by some fans to Chris and Kev and also, Pete Jenkinson from South Kirkby LUSC and Pudsey Macca who both died this week. LUFC – Marching on Together in heaven lads.

Leeds United v Sheffield United 3rd April 2021 at Elland Road

Photos by Mark Hutchinson/WACCOE and Kam Mann

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The day after my last blog, we received the sad news that Peter Lorimer had died after a long illness and again a few tears were shed. Rest in peace Peter and thanks for the memories, my thoughts are with your family and friends. Having been part of the Kop Committee to raise funds for your testimonial year, you created a special bond with us fans and this has carried on to this day especially with our Norwegian fans. Your goal in Paris means we will always be Champions of Europe – WACCOE!

As the poignant dates of 4th and 5th April come around once again, alongside Peter’s death, it was nice to see the club have a minute’s applause before the game today and wear black armbands. The 4th of April sees the 30th anniversary of the sudden death of my baby daughter at 17 days old from an undiagnosed heart defect. The 5th of April sees the 21st anniversary of the murders of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight in Istanbul the evening before our game against Galatasary. I was due to go to this game but was too scared to go having heard many stories about their fans beforehand; my fears happened in the most horrendous way and my thoughts are with Chris and Kevin’s families and friends at this sad time. There has been some great fund raising going on with Leeds United fans raising monies for flowers for Chris, Kev and Peter from WACCOE and thank you to Mark Hutchinson for sharing his photos. Also, Kam Mann has raised over £4,000 for flags to be made for Chris and Kev and any remaining monies going to Candlelighters. Thank you to Kam for sharing his photos too. Well done to everyone involved and this shows once again that these lads will never be forgotten, and this keeps their memories alive. Adam Pope on BBC Radio Leeds also replayed the 20th anniversary recording with Andy Loftus, Gareth Senior and Alan Green after the game today. These are very harrowing memories from that horrendous night and shows why the lads should never be forgotten.

I was invited on to an Arsenal podcast this week by Tom Pheby who had found me on LinkedIn due to my match reports. I am looking forward to sharing the link in due course and it was good to talk about my passion as a Leeds United supporter with my favourite game being the FA Cup Final in 1972.

Team: Meslier, Cooper (back after illness due to Covid), Llorente, Roberts, Phillips, Dallas, Raphinha, Ayling, Alioski, Bamford and Harrison. Subs: Rodrigo for Bamford (65), Klich for Roberts (81) and Koch for Dallas (92). Subs not used: Casilla, Hernandez, Costa, Poveda, Struijk and Shackleton. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Harrison (12) and a Jagielka own goal (50). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: G. Scott.

After a Leeds free kick where Raphinha’s shot went over the bar, he was then on hand with a vital interception of a pass at the other end to put the ball out for a corner. With ten minutes gone a long range shot from Phillips was spilt by their keeper but caught on the rebound and he then made another save from Dallas. Leeds then scored a brilliant goal shortly after which started with Llorente, then Roberts before some great footwork from Raphinha in the area to the byline, passed to Harrison at the far post to hit the ball into the net. Sheffield had a couple of attacks, a free kick and a long range shot that went wide before Leeds launched another attack. A cross from Ayling was headed out and Alioski’s shot won Leeds a corner.

Leeds were awarded a free kick after a Sheffield attack but their player thought he should have had the free kick and moaned like hell. There was hardly any contact with him so I’m not sure of the reason why it was given. Roberts was then brought down with a bad challenge, but the referee played advantage. It looked like Harrison would get his second goal of the game, but the final ball was just wide. Although the referee and VAR said no further action was to be taken against the Sheffield player, it should have been a free kick and their player booked at least. With him coming off worse, it felt like him staying down gave him a reprieve. He was replaced just before half time with a concussion substitution which is now allowed apparently. The commentators who stated it wasn’t a nasty challenge between the two players need to open their eyes as it was a bad foul on Roberts and their player is lucky not to have seen a red card. When play resumed, we had been given a corner so Harrison’s shot must have been deflected. I feel this took the sting out of the game as their player was down for a while as at times it felt like a practice match. Just before half time the game picked up again as persistent work from Roberts and then Ayling saw Leeds win another corner. At the other end Leeds cleared the ball from a Sheffield corner, but they won it back to send the ball across our area before we ran forwards again and Roberts had a shot that skimmed past the outer post. Leeds battled to win the ball and came away with it only for their player to grab it deliberately to stop us going forwards which earned him a booking. Sheffield got an equaliser right at the death when the ball came off the back of our player to their player at the far post. Although the shot was kicked out of the goal by Ayling the ball had already crossed the line. Whether we had switched off or not I’m not sure but all of a sudden, they had a man down the right-hand side all on his own. With the final chance of the half Roberts saw his header easily saved by their keeper to keep the score at 1-1.

Sheffield started on the attack in the second half seemingly coming out with a purpose and buoyed by that goal just before half time. Some great play again from Raphinha left their player on the floor and Dallas then shot over. Roberts sent a fantastic ball to Harrison on the left and his cross was put into the goal by a Sheffield defender five minutes after the restart. Dallas saw another shot clip the corner of the crossbar and post. Roberts was playing well, and it looks like the run in the side was doing him good. It looked like he was playing in Klich’s role today so maybe in a different position to normal? We had another good move which saw Alioski hit the ball high and over before another saw Bamford take a touch too many in the penalty area and they won the ball back. Llorente made a great tackle before an Ayling cross for Bamford brought a save from their keeper.

Sheffield counterattacked and won a corner, but we won the ball back and broke out ourselves. Some great work again from Raphinha saw first his shot, then one from Alioski blocked. Great work from Ayling in defence saw him block their shot at the last minute to retain our lead. Rodrigo replaced Bamford who has had a quieter game today. Sheffield started to put more pressure on us and won a free kick even though their defender was behind Alioski although replays showed he had caught him across the face. A poor pass from Phillips saw him chase Sheffield to get the ball back and brought their player down giving away a free kick. Leeds then broke away with four players going forwards and Dallas’s shot was just wide. Roberts was replaced by Klich before some end-to-end football saw the final ball from Harrison unable to get through to Rodrigo in attack. We’d had 21 attempts so far in the game. Having given advantage first, the referee brought the ball back for the free kick and booked Rodrigo for a foul. I’m assuming the difference to the foul on Roberts in the first half was because Sheffield lost possession. Sheffield had another free kick and then had a long range shot that went just wide. They tried again with another long range shot that went just wide but luckily Meslier didn’t touch the ball, so we got the goal kick.

With five minutes time added on Harrison shot wide, then a great ball from Dallas to Raphinha saw Leeds win a corner. Koch made his first appearance since injury when he replaced Dallas and I wondered who he was at first. Rodrigo saw his shot saved by their keeper as the referee played over the five minute’s injury time but finally the whistle went, and Leeds got the win and a welcome three points. As relegation looms for Sheffield United, Leeds moved into 10th place for the moment. With an away game at Manchester City before home games against Liverpool and man utd we are nearing the end of this season. Keep going Leeds, and let us start upsetting the apple cart a little please! LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

 

Fulham v Leeds United 19th March 2021 at Craven Cottage

Fulham 3.4.2018

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I have a big thank you to say to the Square Ball. They shared a recording of Greavsie announcing my daughter’s birth 30 years ago, live on air just after half time, at our game at Highbury on 17th March 1971. I hadn’t missed a game home or away for 7 years and my husband rang Highbury and managed to get the announcement read out. It was also announced on their scoreboard too and it was a fantastic thing that my husband managed to get done. Sadly, she wasn’t celebrating her birthday here on earth but up in heaven, as she died suddenly at 17 days old from an undiagnosed heart defect. The Square Ball were not aware of this when wishing her a happy birthday but for me, I am grateful for the poignant memories as it keeps her memory alive. She also attended her first game at six days old against Crystal Palace the following week albeit in the crèche in the South Stand.

The Square Ball – The Match Ball 30: Arsenal vs Leeds, 17th March 1991

Team: Meslier, Struijk, Llorente, Phillips, Roberts, Ayling (Captain), Alioski, Harrison, Dallas, Raphinha and Bamford an unchanged team. Subs: Klich for Bamford (injured 77) and Koch for Roberts (90 + 3). Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Bamford (29) and Raphinha (58). Subs not used: Casilla, Berardi, Costa, Poveda, Gelhardt, Shackleton and Jenkins. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: David Coote. Booked: Bamford and Phillips.

They ran straight at us from kick off and got a corner after a clearance from Alioski, hit Struijk and their man got through. A great through ball from Llorente to Bamford nearly got us through at the other end and that was all in the opening two minutes. It was nice to hear Meslier at 21 years old, get praise from the commentators for the number of clean sheets he had kept this season. Fulham had a good run through us but their final pass to the side was not good, so we got the throw in. A Leeds attack saw passing between Alioski and Harrison who then sent a great pass for Roberts. When his cross was headed in at the far post by Ayling to put Leeds into an early lead the cheers went up only to see VAR once again stick the boot in and disallow it for offside. How I hate that thing!

Some good harrying from Harrison saw the ball go out for a throw. Roberts won a free kick in a good position which was taken by Phillips but blocked by their wall. We then came under pressure from Fulham who started forcing us back and nearly came a cropper when Alioski sent a long ball back to Meslier and nearly put us into trouble. Remember Leeds the best form of defence is attack. Bamford was injured in our next attack from a free kick. One thing I had noticed was how physical Fulham were and they got away with quite a few fouls in the opening minutes of the game. Raphinha then put the ball in the net again but this time I had no arguments as it was offside. Replays showed that if we would have released the ball straight away in the build up, it might have just counted. Leeds had been chasing everything up till then, but Fulham started putting us under pressure. They won a free kick after Alioski let their man know he was there on the touchline and won a corner from it. Leeds were then dicing with death as we couldn’t clear the ball then Meslier made a great save and with Ayling behind him, he cleared it off the line. Fulham were closing us down and not letting us have any room but I am hoping our fitness will tell in the end. Roberts did well to keep the ball and not get shoved off it when surrounded by their players.

A good cross from Alioski put Fulham under pressure and the ball came back out for a throw. Alioski throw it back into Harrison who sent a great ball over to the middle for Bamford to hammer in and definitely put us into the lead just before the half hour mark. Bamford then found himself in the book, but I think he was unlucky as he was trying to pull back from the foul. Bamford’s goal meant that we had been involved in 90 goals this season. As I was trying to work out what they meant, it was explained that Leeds had scored 44 goals this season and conceded 46.

Fulham won a second corner which they equalised from when their player managed to outwit Ayling in the penalty area. Fulham then started to pile the pressure on as we messed about, with Struijk’s short header pushed away by Meslier and he then made a further great save to prevent Fulham taking the lead. The ball was just not running for us as we kept giving the ball back to Fulham and finally a save from Meslier brought their attack to an end. Roberts kept changing sides and won a free kick. Reed should have been booked already when he kicked out at Alioski after the ball had already gone out for a throw to us, but he got away with this too. Earlier when we were on the attack, he ran off with the ball as it went out for a throw to us to prevent us carrying on. Raphinha took a great free kick which had four of our players running in behind the wall, but it was possibly offside anyway if it had gone in. As the commentators said that Leeds fans do not like to hear any praise for Raphinha as they don’t want to raise his profile with other clubs, my retort was, “It’s called gallows humour and we are taking the pi*s”.

As we started the second half on even terms at 1-1, Mitrovic came on for Fulham and as he put his shirt on it showed he’d bruises all over his back from cupping. Straight from kick off Fulham forced us back winning a couple of corners. They carried on pressing us, which made mistakes happen. When Phillips lost the ball, he got back in defence and forced their player over the line who then carried on down the slope and hit his head on the advertising boards. When Dallas got the better of their player winning the ball back, he was brought down which earned a booking for Fulham. As Leeds won a corner, Fulham pulled everyone back in to defend it. We still managed to have three in quick succession with the third one after a great run from Harrison which brought a save from their keeper that rebounded off their player. Fulham started attacking again and Dallas fouled their player. From their free kick luckily, their player fluffed his shot and Leeds won the ball and turned it into an attack. A great through ball from Bamford for Raphinha to run onto and take forward and slam it into the net on the hour mark gave us a second goal 28 seconds after their attack broke down. That is the Leeds way and I love it.

The game wasn’t over yet though as Fulham shouted for a penalty after the ball hit Dallas. Roberts then made a late challenge but hurt himself in the process. With another late challenge on Raphinha which didn’t even get us a free kick, the ball was put out for him to receive treatment. At that point Ayling was stood at the side of the pitch not looking too good but had a pouch of something for energy. Leeds started to pile the pressure on after great pass from Roberts saw Raphinha nearly through again, but he just couldn’t get a shot in and another chance went wide. With another tackle from behind on Raphinha, I couldn’t believe they didn’t warrant a booking. Bamford eventually went down injured and was subbed by Klich with around 15 minutes left. It was important we didn’t let Fulham back into the game when they won a corner straight after the substitution. Leeds cleared it and ran straight to the other end and won a corner themselves. The corner from Raphinha to Alioski at the edge of the box was a good move but he caught it wrong, and the ball went way over the top. A shot from Dallas went narrowly wide but it looked like the keeper had it covered, then some good work from Harrison won Leeds another corner. An Ayling header across the goal from the near post saw Harrison coming in at the far post but he couldn’t get on the scoresheet. Klich saw his shot go wide and Alioski’s shot was saved by the keeper. Leeds were digging deep into their reserves and battled to keep Fulham out with some great defending. As Leeds ran out of defence, Raphinha was brought down from behind again but this time it earned the Fulham player a booking. About time! Koch replaced Roberts deep into injury time as Leeds prepared to battle until the end of the game. As Phillips kept hold of the ball when Fulham were awarded a free kick, he didn’t get the same leniency from the referee as the Fulham player in the first half and was booked. It was no different to what happened in the first half so why didn’t their player get booked too? Just because Fulham were running out of time to get something out of the game perhaps. Well done Leeds as they fought until the end to win the three points and end our London jinx at long last. We now have a break until the Sheffield United game on 3rd April so this should give our players time to recuperate as we took some knocks today. LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

Leeds United v Chelsea 13th March 2021 at Elland Road

 

Photo from my younger years

10. Heidi - wore the same outfit when got beaten up at Doncaster Rovers in a friendly game (Copy)
13. Heidi 1975 with scarves (Copy)
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1. Billy Bremner, Paul Reaney and Don Revie at the Irish Centre with Heidi and Karin (Copy)
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3. Heidi and her dog Teddy in 1969 before Drax Power Station was built (Copy)
33. Barcelona European Cup - Heidi and Sue with scarves (Copy)
25. Anderlecht European Cup - Sue and Heidi on the train back to Selby (Copy) - Copy
35. Amsterdam preseason tour 1976 at the fountain - Heidi (Copy)
35. Heidi wearing Billy Bremner's shirt 1976 (Copy)
21. Anderlecht European Cup 1975-Heidi wearing her centenary cup final nightie (Copy) - Copy
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Ken Beale (Copy)
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10. Heidi - wore the same outfit when got beaten up at Doncaster Rovers in a friendly game (Copy) 13. Heidi 1975 with scarves (Copy) 14. Ipswich - Heidi with her banner (Copy) - Copy 1. Billy Bremner, Paul Reaney and Don Revie at the Irish Centre with Heidi and Karin (Copy) 9. Heidi (Copy) 3. Heidi and her dog Teddy in 1969 before Drax Power Station was built (Copy) 33. Barcelona European Cup - Heidi and Sue with scarves (Copy) 25. Anderlecht European Cup - Sue and Heidi on the train back to Selby (Copy) - Copy 35. Amsterdam preseason tour 1976 at the fountain - Heidi (Copy) 35. Heidi wearing Billy Bremner's shirt 1976 (Copy) 21. Anderlecht European Cup 1975-Heidi wearing her centenary cup final nightie (Copy) - Copy Heidi with her Leeds flag (Copy) Ken Beale (Copy) IMG_20200604_0001 (Copy)

I had a stark reminder on Tuesday of the impact the power of love I have for following my team everywhere and our fans has on my well-being. Coming home from work and being down in the dumps, had me feeling sorry for the myself. Getting contacted by Natasha and Vicky to join them and Rhiannon on the All Leeds TV Leeds United lasses programme that evening was the best tonic I could have had. I really enjoyed having the football banter and talking about Leeds United despite our loss the night before. Thank you for inviting me onto the show and for showing how great the Leeds family is.  The link to the recording is: 

All Leeds TV Leeds United lasses programme

I’d also like to thank Ken for buying my book Leeds Are going to the Premier League and as always, your support is appreciated.

I also started reminiscing as the reality of pretending I am 35 hits home as I prepare to retire from work in the summer. 50 years ago, on leaving school, my friend Sue and I made a pact to see how many Leeds games we could attend without missing one. I then went seven years without missing a game home or away and went abroad to see the greatest Leeds team ever. I’m sharing some of my photos of the young girl in a man’s world, which takes me back to those days. Despite all the troubles and trauma of following my team in that era, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I was privileged to be there and to see Billy Bremner lift the FA Cup in 1972. Going to both Salonika in 1973 and Paris in 1975 remain special despite the results. Following this team has made me the loyal Leeds United fan I am today. Although we are playing Chelsea at Elland Road today, I’d told my mum I was going to see Leeds play at Stamford Bridge whether she liked it or not having told me I couldn’t go to Southampton the previous away game. I was working and earning my own money and my love affair of going to away games too was born then and continues to this day.

Team: Meslier, Ayling (Captain), Struijk back from injury, Llorente, Bamford (100th appearance), Alioski, Phillips, Dallas, Harrison, Raphinha and Roberts. Subs: Rodrigo for Bamford (injured 35), Costa for Harrison (64) and Klich for Rodrigo (79). Subs not used: Casilla, Koch (back on the bench after knee surgery), Poveda, Berardi, Shackleton and Jenkins. The game ended in a 0-0 draw. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Kevin Friend. Booked: Roberts, Alioski and Rodrigo.

Bielsa made three changes to the team that played West Ham with Costa and Klich on the bench, and Cooper not in the team. Phillips was limping in the first minute after a challenge but was able to carry on. Dallas playing in midfield made an early tackle letting Chelsea know they were going to be in a battle today. Chelsea nearly took the lead as the ball was pounced on the line by Meslier to stop it going in. Within 14 seconds a Leeds counterattack saw Bamford pass the ball across to Roberts in the penalty area who blasted it into the net only to see it chalked off for Bamford being offside in the build-up. With things coming thick and fast it was Chelsea’s turn to see us clear the ball at the other end only to see it rocket off Llorente, the rebound hit the crossbar and was then  scooped up by Meslier. Back to the other end Roberts had another great chance only to see his shot pushed onto the woodwork from their keeper. Leeds were playing well, chasing after everything as Chelsea had another attack and straight away I shouted that it was offside. I didn’t see the flag go up at the end of the attack, but the comments were justified as I was proved right.

Roberts was booked for a challenge from behind as he studded the back of their player’s knee as he was falling. With 25 minutes played, Chelsea were making us play deep across the back four which in turn invited them to attack us. As Struijk deflected the ball over for a corner, Chelsea looked to be getting a foothold in the game. Bamford was hurt in an aerial challenge as their player barged his hip and looked to be struggling as he hobbled about before going down injured. Eventually Chelsea put the ball out so he could get treatment. At that point I wasn’t sure if he would come back on, but he did, although he didn’t last long and had to be subbed. Poor Bamford, a memorable game for his 100th but for the wrong reasons. Ayling’s flop was quite theatrical as the referee waved play on. After a couple of Leeds attacks which won us a corner and a throw in, another one broke down as Chelsea went straight to the other end in injury time and brought a save from Meslier to keep the score 0-0 as we headed into the break.

The commentators praised Leeds for playing Marching on Together at the start of the second half to create an atmosphere. To have us singing it in the ground again will be awesome. With Raphinha on the attack in an offside position Chelsea won the ball back as the referee waved play on. Chelsea then came close to taking the lead two minutes into the second half but put the ball over the bar. Roberts had made some great running into space down the left-hand side, but his shot did not have enough power on it and was saved by their keeper. Rodrigo looked to have been moved to play deeper in midfield, with Roberts up front but he wasn’t as effective in that position as he’d been in the first half when he played higher up the pitch. That saying, Rodrigo was involved with our next attack. Chelsea were upping the tempo but it was Leeds who came closest to scoring with a save on the line from Raphinha; their keeper reacting well, when he looked to be anticipating the ball at the near post. Roberts going forwards on the wing again was proving to be effective.

Although we were closing down as quickly as we could, it seemed we had lost our way a little as Chelsea brought a save from Meslier. They were through again but put the ball wide with Leeds players closing in to put him off. When Costa prepared to come on, I was already typing for Harrison, before a decision had been made. We need to be able to keep the ball upfront more. As Raphinha was pulled up for a foul the commentators said he had caught their player in the face. Now that’s funny, how can his arm be described as his face? The whistle blew for a free kick to Chelsea but Ayling carried on forwards only to end up on the floor in agony holding his knee. With a Chelsea player trying to drag him up, my concerns were that they were making an injury worse as I knew immediately Ayling wasn’t pretending to be injured. He eventually walked off the pitch after treatment so fingers crossed, he will be okay. As Roberts made another run forward, I was hoping a run in the team will do him good. When Alioski chased back after their player when our attack broke down, I knew he was going to get booked for the tackle as he went to the left of their player instead of the other side of him. A long-range shot was saved by Meslier and stats showed they’d had 14 attempts then to our four, so we were up against a strong team. Rodrigo found himself in the book too before the referee went straight over to have a word with Alioski seemingly saying he would be off if he did it again. I’ve no idea what happened at that point as it sounded like something had happened off the ball.

Leeds were putting pressure on Chelsea as we won a corner, then had a Llorente shot deflected for another one. Rodrigo was unlucky to see his header straight at their keeper, saved by him at the second attempt. Klich was then brought on to replace Rodrigo which was a surprising sub to me even though I admit he wasn’t doing too well playing in a deeper position. A bad clearance from Leeds had Chelsea back on the attack but even though it was offside, Meslier came out to the edge of the box and claimed it anyway. Our new pitch looked to be holding up well after all the recent rain and looks to have embedded better. Some of our players were wearing deeper studs too which will have helped them keep their footing better and there were hardly any slips in comparison to previous games. Roberts was pulled up for offside, but it looked like their far player was playing him onside to me. He was given the man of the match award, had played well, and was looking to prove me wrong for saying he wasn’t a 90-minute man.

As we played the final minutes of the game Chelsea had another shot in our penalty area which luckily was straight at Meslier who saved it. Some good defending from Struijk and then Alioski (who went down injured) saw Leeds keep them out and keep the game at 0-0. That was another thing proving me wrong as I had been saying we do not get draws but am more than happy for that to happen. One point is better than none and we did well to get something out of the game. It was a tough game today and Leeds United rose to the challenge. Getting a draw is what I consider to be a good point under the circumstances so well-done lads. With another Friday night game facing us back in London, I loved it when we took over the neutral part as well. Getting Struijk back in defence with his height has proved effective for me and has also got us another clean sheet. Let’s keep that up and get three points next time. LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

West Ham v Leeds United 8th March 2021 at The London Stadium

What I would have given to visit another new stadium tonight following Leeds United. At least things are getting closer to us fans being allowed back at grounds in some capacity. To say the powers that be are now looking at the integrity of the Premier League when they weren’t bothered before Christmas when some clubs had the luxury of some fans in attendance, makes me laugh. They didn’t bother about that, then did they? We will see what happens next. After reading the latest newsletter from LUST the Leeds United Supporters Trust, it was good to read that the away season tickets showing the loyalty of our support will be honoured. Getting back to home and away games will be relished and cannot come soon enough for me.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Dallas, Ayling, Llorente, Phillips back after injury, Klich, Costa, Raphinha, Roberts and Bamford. Subs: Alioski for Klich and Costa for Harrison (45) and Rodrigo for Roberts (60). Subs not used: Elia Caprile, Poveda, Davis, Berardi back from injury, Jenkins and Huggins. Leeds lost the game 2-0. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Mike Dean.

Leeds started the game well and a great Phillips ball to Costa saw him running down the wing and win us a corner. As West Ham cleared the ball it came back out to the left, but Roberts couldn’t get the better of their defender to get a cross in. A powerful shot from Costa went over the crossbar. As Roberts hammered the ball into the net for Leeds, I thought we’d scored a perfectly legitimate early goal only to see the flag go up for offside which was confirmed by VAR. I thought the offside rules were from when the ball was kicked not when the ball was received but with rules forever changing, I wasn’t sure if that was still the case? Even seeing VAR didn’t convince me that the goal was offside although my hubby thought possibly Bamford got a slight touch to the ball. Raphinha was involved in a good bit of play and in another move won the ball straight back after losing it. Raphinha then crossed the ball for Bamford to put the ball into the net but it had already gone out of play. At one point we were too close for comfort when playing across the back four, but I would rather play out from the back. A short while after it proved my theory when the ball was kicked long from Meslier but was immediately picked up by West Ham to put them on attack.

The game turned on its head when West Ham were awarded a penalty when Ayling caught their player. Meslier was very unlucky as he saved the initial penalty, but West Ham were quicker off the mark than our players and put the rebound into the net to give them the lead. Maybe our players just assumed they were going to score but West Ham being in the lead was against the run of play.  Raphinha put in a good cross that was caught by their keeper. West Ham were awarded a free kick in a good position after a Cooper foul, with their players lining up to take the free kick talking behind hands and shirt seemingly so no one could lip read them. A deflection won West Ham another corner and they then scored from a header in between Llorente and Ayling after losing our markers just before the half hour mark. It was an end-to-end game, but luck had deserted us as they had another shot over the bar. There was no doubt in my mind that we would be making changes at half time today as our midfield was non-existent with West Ham running through us easily at times. I was frustrated with our disallowed goal as that counting would have made a difference to the game. A long-range shot was put around the post from Meslier. With Ayling pushing up so far, he kept getting caught out on the wing when West Ham attacked us. Just before the whistle blew West Ham won another corner and saw the ball rebound off the post and cleared by us as Leeds went into half time losing 2-0.

At the start of the second half Alioski and Harrison replaced Klich and Costa with Dallas moving into midfield with Alioski at left back. An early cross from Leeds was easily caught by their keeper. A fantastic through ball from Llorente to Bamford was a great chance but went just wide and could have put us immediately back into the game had it gone in. Phillips ended up in the book, but he got the ball first. A fantastic shot from Raphinha with his back to goal was tipped over the top from their keeper before a West Ham chance saw their shot come back off our crossbar. Raphinha was shining with another good run and his shot was narrowly wide. Rodrigo replaced Roberts with half an hour left as Leeds kept going forwards in an end-to-end game, with a great pass from Harrison to Alioski on the wing. His cross saw Raphinha’s shot saved by their keeper.  When Raphinha went to take a corner won by Rodrigo, the contrast to West Ham corners was noticeable. They constantly stood in front of Meslier piling pressure on our defence whereas we don’t put any pressure on their keeper as he was surrounded by his own players.

After another Leeds corner didn’t come to anything West Ham went on the counterattack, but Dallas got back.to defend well. Another attack by them saw Llorente miss the ball and bring their man down to give West Ham a free kick in a good position on the edge of the box, but luckily they put the chance wide. Dallas made a good run forwards but was unlucky with the final pass picked up by West Ham. Another great chance for Leeds to pull a goal back saw Bamford hit the ball over the top of the goal after a great pass from Raphinha. What a shame he couldn’t have put the ball in the net like he did in the first half when it didn’t count.  We have got to take our chances and getting one goal back would have given us that chance to get something out of the game. They got booked for kicking ball away as Leeds never gave up and were still attacking. Rodrigo had a shot over the bar when maybe Ayling was in a better place to the right of him, but he had to try. We only needed that chance, but West Ham got the luck as they cleared the ball off the line after a great cross from Ayling. They had a long range shot easily saved from Meslier before some strong play from Phillips saw his long shot well wide.

As the whistle blew for full time which saw Leeds lose in London, the hoodoo strikes again! We will have to learn to be clinical and put our chances away as in this division, you do not get a second chance at it sadly. The Chelsea game at Elland Road at the weekend will be an early lunch time kick off with games coming thick and fast. Keep fighting Leeds as you did today, and it will come good in time. LUFC – Marching on Together!

 

 

Leeds United v Aston Villa 27th February 2021 at Elland Road

The very sad news coming out on Thursday evening was hearing that Peter Lorimer is in a hospice battling his long-term illness and Mick Bates is also ill too. Having been brought up watching the greatest team on earth with the great Don Revie side, these players gave me the best part of my life travelling all over the world watching them play. Knowing that we could shortly be losing some more members of that team after Norman Hunter, Jack Charlton and Trevor Cherry’s deaths last year moved me to tears. I know I wasn’t the only one of our fans from that era feeling this way. My thoughts are with their families and friends at this moment and know there are thousands of us fans willing them both on. Having been part of Peter Lorimer’s testimonial committee where we helped to raise funds for it, those memories will always be there, and I cherish every moment. Make the most of life as we never know what is around the corner. The photos are from Peter Lorimer’s testimonial committee and from the Don Revie statue fundraiser at the Plantation with the SLI with Mick Bates and Eddie Gray. I will always remember Mick telling me to definitely get my first book Follow Me and Leeds United published when speaking to him about it and I’m so glad I did. Everything in the book is true, but it also takes me back to a time where I followed Leeds United everywhere not missing a match home or away for seven years and went abroad to see them too. Despite being a girl in a man’s world I wouldn’t change being there at all even though there were some horrible and torrid times too along with the violence, that meant you took your life in your hands just to follow your team. Character building I’d call it today!

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente, Struijk, Dallas, Ayling, Bamford, Raphinha, Klich, Costa and Roberts. Subs: Alioski for Struijk (52), Harrison for Costa (64) and Hernandez for Roberts (71). Subs not used: Casilla, Davis, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Huggins and Jenkins. Leeds lost 1-0. Attendance: Zero- behind closed doors. Referee: Peter Bankes.

In the first minutes Bamford was through and his shot come pass, beat Raphinha with the bounce of the ball as he came in at the far post. Villa were straight back on the attack and within five minutes were in the lead. When their man passed the ball to the right of the goal, it by passed all our players to reach their player seemingly in lots of space with Costa breathing down his neck, who hit the ball into the net. That was a blow, and I do not think we recovered after that. Although Struijk was playing in Phillip’s role today, I thought it was a shame he was out of our defence having kept clean sheets whilst in that position. He did not do anything wrong today but as it isn’t his strongest position, I don’t think we play better as a team with that formation. Leeds had a chance when Raphinha’s shot was blocked in the penalty area which rebounded to Roberts who saw his shot saved by their keeper. As we came forward Struijk pointed for Dallas to send the ball to the left but instead, he sent the ball to the right and sadly that was cut out by Villa as they came forward again winning another corner. They were putting us under pressure at corners that’s for sure. Some good defending by Struijk in the corner won us a throw in.

The commentators had to mention that Villa game where Bielsa let them score. That is one time I will never agree with the decision made by Bielsa as you play to the whistle. I still get angry that their players manhandled Klich and despite the number of replays shown, were never punished for bringing the game into disrepute. When I think of the injustices Leeds as a club have had with TV decisions made after games going against them, for instance Bowyer and Beckford, it made a mockery of things for me.

Meslier saved a long range shot at the second attempt but there was no danger of anyone being near enough to put the ball into the net for them. Dallas’s shot was just wide after good play from Klich before the commentators said a foul on Dallas was only slightly late and a mistake! Noticing that Raphinha has his shorts tucked in made me wonder if that was why he ran so fast when he made a great run. Cooper’s header from a corner was easily saved by their keeper. Costa got past their player then was pulled up for the foul, but replays showed minimal contact as he threw himself to the ground. It was noticeable that they went down very easily at times. Another long range shot by Villa was wide, but it looked like Meslier had it covered anyway. Our best chance of the half so far came after a great ball from Struijk to Roberts saw him blast the ball over the top of the bar when he should have had it on target at least. Raphinha’s movement on and off the ball is good to see. When their player went down holding his leg, Roberts pulled him up and of course he was fine. Leeds won a corner after good work from Raphinha who then sent the ball out to Costa on the edge of box to hit the ball low that won us another corner. From this one Roberts was too lax in the middle of the field and Villa won possession then ran all the way to the other end and saw their shot saved by Meslier. Leeds tried again from a free kick and a header from Ayling was easily caught by their keeper. Llorente was fouled and went down injured rolling about, but was hauled up by their player. He was not limping then, and my thoughts were not to copy Villa as that is not the Leeds way. As we went in at half time losing to that early goal, I would have made changes to the team for the start of the second half bringing on Harrison and Hernandez for Costa and Roberts. In my opinion they are not strong enough for 90 minutes and I would use them in a sub role only.

Bielsa kept the same side and although we were having flashes of brilliance, we were not setting the game alight. Alioski came on for Struijk but even after he came on no one was taking control of the game for us which was crying out for Hernandez, as it felt a bit like headless chickens at time. When Roberts was booked after being hauled down it looked like he had retaliated but their player was cheating again as there was no contact. Klich was booked just after that and I thought we were losing our cool and panicked; we should take both Klich and Roberts off now, so they didn’t get sent off. As the game continued, I calmed down and thought about my earlier days of following Leeds and getting booked didn’t automatically mean you’d get sent off!

Harrison replaced Costa and shortly afterwards when Villa got a goal kick, their keeper was seen taking a tablet in the middle of the game. I felt that we were going to get nothing out of the game today as we weren’t gelling like we have done recently. Maybe the way the team was set up at the start today was wrong. Villa won the ball back and ran to other end but shot over as their other man was in acres of space at the other side of the goal. Hernandez replaced Roberts with about 15 minutes of the game left. When the commentators were trying to blame Klich for blood on their player’s face, replays showed he was nowhere near him when he fell. They then decided the blood was already there! Leeds won a corner but the final ball from Klich went well over the bar. My hopes for getting anything out of the game were dwindling as Mings was taking the goal kick rather than the keeper.  It was ages before the ball was kicked and I couldn’t understand why it had taken so long apart from them time wasting of course. What was the referee doing?

We really needed an equaliser but all our attempts on goal were straight to the keeper. I’ve got to believe we could get something from the game but deep down I knew we wouldn’t. Good challenging from Harrison won Leeds a throw in then Dallas was fouled from behind, but the free kick was given to Villa. Did I miss something? Was it handball or offside? Bamford was back defending as Villa’s time wasting continued. With challenges from them going amiss and Targett being a big culprit, the referee started being whistle happy in Villa’s favour. When Hernandez was booked after being fouled, I thought the referee was losing the plot, even if my lip reading told me Hernandez told him to f**k off. Leeds then had our best chance of this half to equalise after Harrison came forward with the ball with Alioski free on his left, only to see his great cross find Raphinha on the right but his header went wide.

With five minutes time added on the commentators surpassed themselves when saying Villa were now using time management to see the game out. Obviously, they didn’t have their eyes open as Villa had been doing it since their keeper didn’t take the goal kick. I don’t think we played well today and maybe our starting line-up didn’t help, although maybe Villa not letting us play was more to do with that. With Leeds awarded a corner, the referee spoke to Targett again who was pushing Bamford about. When he did let the corner be taken, we should have been awarded a penalty when Targett brought Bamford down. Really, he should have already been off the pitch the number of times he was let off for fouls but the referee was not strong enough to make that decision. As the final whistle blew, knowing we had lost meant it wasn’t to be. Although disappointed we have to put this game behind us and focus on the next one, the visit to West Ham. This was one ground I was looking forward to visit as I’d never been there just Upton Park their previous ground. Oh well there is nothing I can do about that, but there’s always next season! LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Southampton 23rd February 2021 at Elland Road

With it being Trevor Cherry’s birthday today I’ve shared a couple of photos taken at the Amsterdam Tournament in 1976 with a banner made by my friend Carole as a tribute to him. Power to yer boot Trevor!  

I’m not sure if the wind had picked up in Leeds but if it is anything like in Halifax, it will make challenging conditions today. Leeds had 11 virtual mascots from Beeston Primary School.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Struijk, Llorente, Harrison, Klich, Raphinha, Bamford, Dallas and Roberts. Subs:  Costa for Harrison (45), Alioski for Klich (59) and Hernandez for Roberts (74).  Subs not used: Casilla, Gelhardt, Cresswell, Jenkins, Olly Casey and Huggins. Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Bamford (47), Dallas (78) and Raphinha (84). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Andre Marriner referee.

When Dallas stumbled in the first minute and then Llorente playing number 14 slipped, it wasn’t looking good for playing on the new pitch as it looked wet. I’m not sure if it was watered before the game or not, but on seeing us unable to keep our footing, it would be an own goal in my opinion. Bielsa made a change to the formation with Struijk on the left-hand side of our defence and Llorente on the right. It looked like we didn’t have anyone specific in Phillips’s role today with Harrison starting on the right wing and Raphinha on the left. With a good early chance, Bamford passed the ball for Roberts in the penalty area, but he was unable to reach it. Southampton looked dangerous when they got a free kick and although their player got to the ball from the cross and headed wide, hopefully Struijk did enough to put him off despite being blocked in the build-up. Meslier made a crucial save after they sent Cooper the wrong way and got a shot in. We made a few bad passes, but I was sure we would settle down.

Raphinha’s free kick saw four of our players getting past the defence in the penalty area but the flag was up for offside. It was a correct decision but also good to see them all trying to score. It was hard to know who was playing where at this moment. Llorente showed his class with a great ball to the opposite side of the pitch. The longer the game went on, the more concerned I was about the state of the pitch. For the money spent on it, have we been sold a dud? It was very slippy for both teams and looked to be cutting up in places. Although the weather may have impacted on the pitch settling in, that wasn’t a good sign for me.

We saw some good defending from Ayling before Bamford was unlucky, getting pushed off the ball at the last minute in their penalty area. The commentators were doing my head in and is why I want to be there at the games, so I don’t have to listen to them! We did keep giving the ball away a lot which worked in favour of Southampton before we changed formation with Raphinha back on the right wing and Harrison back on the left. Leeds should have taken the lead shortly afterwards after fantastic work from Raphinha saw him pass a great ball to Roberts in the middle of the pitch, only to see him blast it over the top. That was a bad miss and in reality, he should have at least got it on target. Roberts was on the receiving end when he was brought down, which earned their player a booking for the foul. Even though we were a bit too far out to score, Raphinha sent a great ball to Llorente on the right with Dallas on the receiving end of his pass, who brought a save out of the keeper.

Meslier made a great save but the referee gave Leeds a free kick for hand ball. The next minute Southampton were awarded a penalty after Llorente caught their man. When replays showed that he had not fouled their man, Kevin Friend in charge of VAR asked the referee to look at it again. On seeing the replays, the referee changed his mind which was the right decision. A brilliant ball out of defence from Dallas to Raphinha looked as if he was set to score but the ball was whipped off his toes in the penalty area. My first instincts were that it was a cast iron penalty and sending off, but it just shows what happens when you see it again, as it proved to be an excellent tackle. Llorente gave the ball away but then struggled to get going again on the pitch which was a concern but luckily all was okay, and we cleared it. The ball had to be changed just before the break so hopefully that will benefit us. Cooper tried to shield the ball out, but Southampton got it but then he recovered to win it back. Southampton got the ball into the net, but as they had taken the free kick before the referee had blown his whistle, it was disallowed, and play brought back. Southampton came the closest to scoring from a corner which brought a save from Meslier as the ball swung in dangerously. With the score 0-0 at half time, it had been quite an eventful half.

Costa replaced Harrison for the start of the second half which turned on its head very quickly. This meant Raphinha was back on the left wing again. After a good block from Struijk and a save from Meslier, Leeds took an early lead. A great pass from Roberts to Bamford saw him run forward, hit a low shot from just outside the area and into the net for a great start. Southampton tried getting straight back into the game which brought another save from Meslier. Leeds should have got a second goal after another amazing run from Raphinha, but the final shot was inches wide from Roberts. So close and a shame he didn’t bury it. We nearly scored again after a great clearance from Ayling saw Raphinha run to the other end, pass the ball to Dallas before Bamford saw his shot then the follow up from Roberts, both saved by the keeper. Costa won a corner and once cleared with Southampton on the attack, he raced back to win the ball back and was brought down in the process. Some good defending from Cooper ended with Klich down in our penalty area so we put the ball out. Southampton made a double sub as Alioski came on to replace Klich. With that, Alioski went to left back and Dallas moved into midfield.

Alioski nearly went flying when he tried stopping himself running forwards. Some great play from Leeds after a pass from Alioski to Raphinha then Llorente, brought a save by their keeper Alex McCarthy. To say he was on loan at Leeds one time, I can’t even remember him being here.  Some fantastic defending on the line from Bamford made sure the ball was kept out even though Meslier was behind him. Better to be safe than sorry. A free kick awarded against Alioski was wrong as he didn’t touch him, their man was already falling down when Alioski kicked the ball away. The pitch was looking quite dangerous with the number of times players were slipping on the surface with Dallas one of them. As their player started walking off the pitch injured, he then went down to waste time for their sub to come on. Meslier saved another long range shot but then as we got it away, they won it back and shot over the top, but it was offside anyway. Hernandez replaced Roberts with just over 15 minutes of the game left.

Costa made a run down the wing and sent a great pass to Dallas who hit his shot through three men and past the keeper into the goal to give us a two-goal lead with little over 10 minutes of the game left. Praise should go to Raphinha for his great run across the goal which created space for Dallas to get his shot in. Dallas held up a shirt after he scored with the name of Granny Val on, in memory of Phillips’s grandma who died last week. Southampton were still putting us under pressure when they could and got through, although their player didn’t know much about it when his shot forced a save from Meslier. Leeds counterattack ended with Costa fouled but the free kick awarded was in a good position. A brilliant free kick from Raphinha straight into the bottom left of the goal with the keeper beaten saw us take a three-goal lead. As Raphinha took his shirt off to show some writing on his shirt it earned him a booking. I don’t see anything wrong with taking your shirt off to celebrate anyway. Raphinha who was to be crowned man of the match again, ran to close their keeper down which is the Bielsa way despite only a few minutes remaining. That is just what I want to see, Leeds battling until the final whistle blows. Our formation was changed today and ignored the normal Phillips role so well done Bielsa as it proves he listens. Even though it took a while to get on top and there were some hairy moments, it worked. The last minutes saw Raphinha keeping the ball in play with his great pass to Alioski with the final shot from Hernandez over the bar. An excellent three points sees Leeds climb to 10th in the table setting us up nicely for Saturday’s game against Aston Villa. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Wolves v Leeds United 19th February 2021 at Molineux

Photos from our trip to Molineux 22nd November 2017

With Alioski on the bench and Roberts coming into the team, it looked like a slight change of formation today. With Dallas going to left back, Struijk back in defence in his strongest position, Ayling back at right back this pushed Shackleton into Phillips’s role. Although recently injured, Phillips lost his gran this week too.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Bamford, Roberts, Raphinha, Dallas, Struijk, Harrison, Klich and Shackleton. Subs: Hernandez for Shackleton (66), Alioski for Klich and Costa for Harrison (81). Subs not used: Casilla, Llorente, Davis, Gelhardt, Jenkins and Huggins. Leeds lost the game 1-0. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: David Coote.

A good run out of defence saw a Roberts pass to Bamford win Leeds a corner that was cleared by Wolves. When all I could think about was the Netto supermarket (long gone) after hearing the name, I knew he would be a pain in the a**e against us today. Another attack by Leeds saw Roberts let the ball run instead of having a go himself, but the chance was lost as no other Leeds player was close enough to pick the ball up. Wolves were very quick once they broke up our attack as they raced out of defence but luckily Dallas put the ball out for a corner. Wolves had their long-range shooting boots on today with the first one saved by Meslier. He was called into action again to save another shot after Wolves made it hard for us to play out from the back, putting us under pressure.

With Lucy Ward ex-Leeds commenting on the game, my heart sank when she said that Wolves hadn’t opened the scoring in 14 games which was later repeated by her colleague. Despite being told that my superstitions don’t decide games, the comments came back to haunt us as it was odds on that would happen! A shot from Raphinha bounced easily for their keeper to gather the ball. As I was thinking Roberts needs to be tough tonight, he was pulled up for a foul but even though their player went down hurt, it didn’t look that bad a challenge. Roberts was involved in some good movements going forwards in the opening minutes of the half. Wolves then had another long range shot that brought a save out of Meslier.

A foul from behind on Bamford saw Leeds awarded a free kick. A great delivery from Raphinha picked Cooper out and his glancing header was straight at the keeper. As Wolves came forward again, their man was all alone on the wing with Ayling coming back from an attacking position. We need to watch that we don’t give them too much space. With their player leaning into Struijk he eventually won a free kick when he ended up on the floor although I didn’t think it was a foul. There was no way he was going to stay on his feet. Leeds came so close to opening the scoring just before the half hour mark when the bottom of the post saved them from Klich’s shot and a second shot from Struijk was saved by the keeper. As Wolves raced out of defence, Meslier was forced into making another great save to keep them out. I was more than happy with our formation today despite Wolves having plenty of attacks.

When the commentator mentioned Robin Cook, I thought who Is he, before realising he meant Koch. Wolves were proving they weren’t a pushover when they got through our defence again as Meslier covered his near post and put the ball out for a corner. Raphinha put some great crosses into the box only for them to be just out of reach of our incoming players. If only we’d got longer legs! Meslier was alert and had to be quick out of his area to kick the ball away. A great throw from Meslier to Raphinha put Leeds on the attack but it didn’t come to anything.  Some good defending saw Cooper win the ball, but as Wolves picked the ball up first, he was shouting at Roberts to track back. Leeds tried coming forwards again and were unlucky it didn’t come off after some good work from Harrison. It had been a very quick half as the whistle blew just after 45 minutes had been played without any injury time added on. It is rare to see that as normally at least a minute is added on. With the score evenly balanced at 0-0 it was anyone’s game.

The start of the second half saw Wolves closing us down well making Leeds work around them patiently to start an attack. They continued to keep forcing us back which is something I don’t want to do if I can help it, although it can’t be avoided at times. At one-point Ayling’s run with the ball took him right over to the opposite side of the field. Harrison was bundled off the ball, but Cooper won it back only for Wolves to come at us again, but their shot was over the top of our goal. Struijk made a couple of great passes across the field and Raphinha was also displaying his skills with a great ball to Bamford. Ayling then followed suit with a great pass that won a corner. Klich won a free kick when hit on the back of the head and their keeper made a point blank save from Cooper to prevent Leeds taking the lead with Bamford’s follow up shot cleared off the line. How cruel then to see Wolves run to the other end, hit a long-range shot that bounced off the corner of the crossbar and hit Meslier on his back and into the net. The jammy sods and it shows what a bit of luck can do; I was gutted for Meslier.

Hernandez came on for Shackleton as Leeds were awarded a free kick. A fantastic cross from Raphinha which Cooper got to, saw their keeper very lucky to put the ball out for a corner. After having so many years where we have been dire at free kicks, crosses into the box and corners, it was nice to see that they were causing problems for Wolves now with Raphinha taking them. As we are getting stronger in that respect, the goals will come in time. When a perfect through ball to Bamford saw him run forwards and smash an unstoppable shot into the net, it was disallowed for offside. Even though the VAR line showed him level, he must have been offside by a fingernail! That hit home hard and yes it may show differently from another angle, but having the attacker given the advantage as used to be in the rules is sorely missed. Wolves were certainly riding their luck today to still be in the lead. Our goal being disallowed made me so angry as that would have been game on and a chance for us to win the game.

Costa and Alioski came on for Klich and Harrison before Wolves subbed their earlier substitute for an injury. A good through ball from Raphinha was just too long for Roberts to reach, the latter then winning us a corner after a great ball from Hernandez. A shot from Roberts hit their player on the head and he went down in the penalty area which stopped our attack. With that Wolves were given the advantage as new rules meant they were given the ball when we had been in possession of it. That to me is all wrong. Good defending from Struijk meant Wolves won a corner but as they were time wasting taking it, their man was booked. With five minutes of injury time to play Wolves were keeping us in the corner at our end of the field. In the closing minutes Wolves had all the luck again when Roberts received a great pass from Raphinha, and the keeper saved the shot with his feet.  If only he could have lifted the ball over the keeper. With our final chance in the game the keeper saved a header from Raphinha meaning Wolves won the game with that earlier lucky goal. If the original shot had gone in, that would have been easier to bear as it would have been a great goal. To get the luck they did for the shot to rebound off Meslier’s back meant Leeds were unlucky to get defeated. We played well and deserved a draw which would have been a just result.

With our games against Southampton on Tuesday then Aston Villa next Saturday having a 5.30pm kick off, I’m hoping we can get back to winning ways. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Arsenal v Leeds United 14th February 2021 at the Emirates

 

 

 

 

 

 

It doesn’t seem two minutes since I was travelling by train to London after work to the FA Cup game. Timing was key to getting there at all, but everything worked liked clockwork before getting back at 3am and going into work four hours later. The things you do to support your team.

I thought I’d definitely lost my marbles this week. Even though I was convinced that Leeds were playing today Sunday, I checked the official website and the fixture was down for Saturday. I was geared up for that only to find out I was right in the first place when I started reading what other fans were posting. Having just taken this screen print, I am pleased to report I did not imagine it which is a relief!

I have just received my United Revolución book from Justin Slee which has some great photos in it and I’m looking forward to reading more later. Thank you to Gerry Johnston for allowing me to appear on his show after the game today and am looking forward to chatting to him again in future.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Dallas, Struijk, Alioski, Bamford, Raphinha, Harrison, Klich and Shackleton as Phillips was out due to injury. Subs: Costa for Harrison and Roberts for Klich (45) and Huggins for Alioski (53). Subs not used: Casilla, Cresswell, Davis, Hernandez, Gelhardt and Jenkins. Leeds lost the game 4-2 with Struijk (58) and Costa (68) getting the Leeds goals after being 4-0 down. Attendance: zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Stuart Attwell.

My heart sank when I saw that Struijk had been moved out of his strongest position in defence into Kalvin’s role, with Shackleton brought in at right back and Ayling moving to centre of defence. To me we would not play to our strengths with our players being out of position and shouldn’t have changed the back four when we knew it was working.  I may not agree with the decision but as I always say, Bielsa has to do it his way.

Arsenal were immediately on the attack but their first couple of chances were way over the bar, but it was a sign of things to come. Although a good cross from Harrison brought a header from Bamford which was saved by their keeper, the game turned on its head two minutes later. A ball out of defence was picked up by Arsenal and they ran at us down the left-hand side and Meslier was beaten at the near post to given them an early 13th minute lead. They managed to shoot between Ayling and Cooper when it looked like they were going to shoot in the opposite corner. That London voodoo strikes again.

A good piece of play from Leeds ended with Klich’s shot way over the bar as Leeds stepped up a gear. A great pass from Raphinha to Harrison saw their keeper gladly catch the ball. It was obvious that our formation was not working when Arsenal more or less walked through us and we had to be thankful that Ayling’s deflection put the ball over the bar for a corner. With the half hour mark upon us we needed to change what we were doing. Arsenal were forcing us back and Meslier came close to seeing the ball whipped off his feet as he cleared it. I wasn’t thinking of any subs coming on only changing our formation, but it felt like Bielsa wanted to get to half time before making any changes to the team but that was to be our downfall.

With that Arsenal were awarded a penalty on 33 minutes after a Cooper challenge. I thought that their player went down easily as my other half thought it was definite penalty. As it was, VAR overruled the decision and we had been given a lifeline as Leeds went on to win a corner. Sadly, we couldn’t beat the first man as they cleared it. With only 28 percent possession for Leeds this half we had been up against it, but things got worse when we were forced back even though I screamed for us to pass the ball forwards. Meslier stumbled when the ball was nearly whipped off his toes and with his second try for the ball, caught their man too. This gave Arsenal a two-goal lead as this penalty sent Meslier the wrong way with 40 minutes on the clock. In reality, we had been chasing shadows this half as Arsenal continued to make it look easy.  They were queuing to put the ball into the net as Meslier was beaten at his near post and Leeds were 3-0 down on the stroke of half time. It had certainly been a bad day at the office so to speak but I was adamant we should have changed our formation earlier. Let’s see what the second half brings, it will either be a fight back from us or annihilation. At this moment, I couldn’t see us getting anything out of this game but was happy to be proved wrong.

As I thought Hernandez may come on for Alioski I was wrong. Instead, Costa and Roberts replaced Harrison and Klich. The second half saw us get off to a disastrous start as Costa wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball and the next thing the ball was in the net and Leeds 4-0 down. Well, we certainly do things in style.  Leeds weren’t totally down and out though as they brought some pride back to the team with some fight still in there. A great shot from Raphinha brought a save out of their keeper before another attack won Leeds a corner. A powerful header from Struijk from this corner pulled one back for us. Arsenal were nearly through again attacking our goal with Raphinha chasing back from the halfway line, but our defence broke it up. That’s the good thing about this team, they never give up fighting. I’ve no idea what happened to Costa as his mouth was bleeding but it maybe fired him up as he scored Leeds a second goal after a good run and cross from Roberts down the wing.

Struijk was booked but even when watching the replay, I couldn’t see why. Someone will enlighten me in time no doubt, but Arsenal had lots of space on the wing since Alioski went off. Bamford was unlucky when he made a great run down the centre of the pitch and was crowded out in the penalty area. He deserved a goal for that run. The woodwork saved Leeds from another Arsenal goal from the counterattack and still looked dangerous going forward. Arsenal looked like they were going to score another goal, but the ball hit the post and rebounded as Leeds won a freekick for a foul on Raphinha. I was surprised their man didn’t get a booking as it was after ball had gone.  Even though we were losing I was still willing the ball into the net as we ended the half still fighting. Arsenal came the closest to scoring though, bringing out a good save from Meslier and were breaking away when Dallas fouled their man and ended up with a booking.

We did not disgrace ourselves in the second half, but the game was already lost by half time realistically. We will not win every game that’s for sure but need to fight back with the game at Wolves on Friday.  As this game is also still showing as a Saturday fixture on the official website, I will ensure I don’t take any notice of that one! LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Crystal Palace 8th February 2021 at Elland Road

With another lot of recent snow and heavy rain our new pitch will be put to the test again.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Phillips (making his 200th appearance), Ayling, Alioski, Struijk, Harrison, Dallas, Raphinha, Klich and Bamford. Subs: Shackleton for Phillips (injured 88). Subs not used: Casilla, Joe, Gelhardt (first appearance in the first team squad), Shackleton, Cresswell, Davis, Jenkins, Costa and Huggins. Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals from Harrison (3) and Bamford (52). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Andre Marriner.

Leeds got off to a great start with a goal after three minutes when a brilliant deflection from Harrison’s shot went over the keeper’s head and into the net. Looking at the colour of some of the players’ boots today, I can’t say I’ve noticed many wearing black boots before as they are normally an array of different colours. It could be they had changed boots to wear the correct studs for the pitch, but there were still a few players slipping on the surface, Klich and Ayling who looked to get hurt plus some Palace players. Another good move saw a Bamford header saved at the foot of the post by their keeper. Palace won a corner which was cleared by Leeds then some good movement from Bamford saw him head a cross wide, then another chance, saw his shot go over the crossbar. A foul on Raphinha just outside the box in a good position saw his free kick go over the top of the goal.

Leeds were taking their time moving forwards with a lot of passing across our back four and not going forwards. Maybe we were taking a more cautious approach in defence today but at times I wanted to move the ball forwards. Playing too deep was inviting Palace forward but maybe that is what Bielsa wanted from us but it was quite frustrating at times. I thought we may give Palace too much hope, especially when Meslier had to be on alert to make a save. Cahill was lucky not to concede a penalty when he dragged Raphinha down and he went down in the box, but the tackle was outside the area. A couple of good moves saw Struijk making his presence known in the box but with one, the final shot went over the bar and another his header went wide. We were getting chances, but we needed them to count. A Raphinha free kick saw Cooper get a header in which was easily caught by their keeper, but he did well to get into a position to challenge the ball.

When Struijk headed the ball under a challenge in their penalty area, the commentator called him a 50p head. I’m assuming it is something to do with swivelling on the ball but I’m sure someone will enlighten me. Just before the break it looked like Palace were through our defence as their player went down looking for a penalty but play was waved on. That could have been very costly. At least we had been in good positions during the first half; all we need is for them to count.

Things got off to a slightly slower start in the second half but enough for Leeds to take a two-goal lead on 52 minutes. A great shot from Raphinha was saved by their keeper but Bamford following up put the rebound into the net to give us that cushion with his 12th goal of the season. Palace started running at us more as they tried to get back into the game with their final shot over the bar from a good position then Meslier saved another shot. A good Leeds move forwards saw Bamford in a great position waiting for the ball, but the cross went behind him. That was a shame as it deserved more. Phillips was hurt and required treatment. Raphinha was having a fantastic game and involved in a lot of moves as well as seeing their keeper make a save at the near post for a corner. Justice was served after a dirty foul on Dallas got them a booking. A fantastic shot from Harrison hit the crossbar and careered off the top at speed, what a shame.

Ayling looked as if he was going on a run forward only to stop and pass the ball back which looked like we were making sure we didn’t leave our defence wide open. When Phillips went down injured again that was to be his last part in the game as Shackleton came on to replace him with three minutes of normal time left. It’s not often we get to that part of the game with no subs made. Not a good end for Phillips with this being his 200th game for the club as Dallas stepped into his role. Meslier was called upon to make a save as the game neared injury time, but I didn’t want Palace to have a lifeline with a goal or hope, in the final minutes of the game. Leeds continued to keep possession passing the ball back and across the back line as our cautious approach suddenly opened up for us to attack. Sadly, although it put Palace under pressure no one was close enough to knock the final ball in.  Raphinha won a deserved man of the match and once again he was mine too. The game may not have been a classic, but a win is a win and another three points saw Leeds go up to 10th in the table. After 9,000 Leeds fans last saw Leeds at the Emirates Stadium, it would have been so nice to head there next Sunday this time for a Premier League clash. Sadly, we are still playing behind closed doors so will have to make do with watching it on TV. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Everton 3rd February 2021 at Elland Road

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After the heavy snow yesterday and rain since, we will see how our new pitch holds up. A minute’s applause was held for 100-year-old Captain Tom after his death yesterday, who raised nearly 33 million pounds for the NHS. After Southampton were beaten 9-0 yesterday, Leeds went up to 11th place as that affected their goal difference which was inferior to ours. Rodrigo has been for a scan and hopefully his injury isn’t too bad thus giving Klich his chance to play today. Raphinha had recovered from his thigh injury to retain his place in the team.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Dallas, Alioski, Struijk, Bamford, Raphinha, Klich, Harrison and Phillips. Subs: Roberts for Klich (69), Hernandez for Alioski (78) and Costa for Harrison (87). Subs not used: Casilla, Davis, Shackleton, Huggins, Jenkins and Cresswell. Leeds lost the game 2-1 with Raphinha scoring for Leeds (48). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors.  Referee: Michael Oliver.

Leeds nearly caught Everton out after a quick throw in got Leeds into the penalty area and won us an early corner.  From the corner they cleared the ball to one of ours but instead of pushing straight back with an attack, the ball went back to Meslier and the chance was lost. The new pitch looked to be holding up well in the early stages of the game, but we were slipping and sliding a lot.  Everton were not so it must be down to the studs our players have on their boots.

Everton had a great run down the wing where they managed to get a good cross in after beating Raphinha. Struijk was at the near post but the cross reached the man behind him all on his own with only Meslier to beat, to give Everton an early lead. You had better not be cheering Mr Pope! A minute later Meslier had to make the save to prevent them getting another goal. Leeds immediately tried to hit back and a great shot from Klich was put out for a corner by the keeper.  As Raphinha was stood waiting to take the corner he couldn’t as the linesman stood in front of him preventing him from taking it, as VAR was looking at something. Harrison was booked for a foul, but I didn’t think it warranted a booking. Leeds had another good move, but Bamford’s header went over the bar. Some nice play from Bamford saw Leeds win another corner where a brilliant first-time strike from Alioski brought another save from the keeper. Leeds continued with some sustained pressure but then Everton tried getting back into the game and always looked dangerous. A great free kick from Phillips saw a Struijk header deflected by their player and saved by the keeper. Leeds continued to win lots of corners as they tried getting back into the game, but Everton were always a threat going forwards and brought a further save from Meslier. They were also pulled up for offside in an attack, but I didn’t think it was.

There was some end-to-end football with each team closing each other down. The pitch was definitely slippy but it was not cutting up like it had been doing which was good to see. Some nice play saw Bamford cutting out their pass, but he was quickly closed down. Everton were through again with a man spare, but they shot instead which went wide. Three minutes from the end of normal time in this half saw Everton increase their lead. They scored from a corner when they headed the ball on to their man at the back post who had lost his marker. Everton had another free kick in a dangerous place but Leeds cleared the ball. Although we were losing by two goals, the game is not over yet as Leeds can still fight back.

At the start of the second half, they did exactly that as Leeds pulled one back within three minutes when Raphinha scored after good work from Harrison and Bamford. The ball seemed to run for Everton where they put in another dangerous cross although Leeds won the resulting thrown in. Leeds were then very unlucky not to get an equaliser when we had two chances saved on the line first from Klich, then Raphinha, before the keeper made another save from Harrison. Their keeper is having a blinder here. Leeds were forced to defend a free kick before Everton ran through us again but their final shot was wide.  Leeds were not giving up and made our first sub with Roberts coming on for Klich. It was a very fast paced game as Leeds still had to defend when Struijk battled with their player on the wing to put the ball out for a throw in. Some more persistent play from Bamford saw the ball just over the crossbar.

It had been all Leeds this half but Everton were always looking dangerous on the break which brought some vital defending from Cooper. Alioski looked like he couldn’t keep on his feet, but the ball was maybe too far in front of him. He was then taken off with Hernandez coming on to replace him with Dallas going to left back. Ayling then found himself in the book. As their player was being subbed, he was time wasting, and the referee had to tell him to get off the pitch quicker. As he should have gone off the other side of the pitch, why was he allowed to dictate this? I hadn’t given up yet as there is always time until the final whistle blows. Everton got through again through sheer persistence but Meslier caught the cross easily. Leeds weren’t playing badly so there was still a chance as that never say die attitude meant we were still attacking. Harrison won a corner which I thought should have been a free kick to Leeds for a foul, then Roberts won a free kick in a similar place to the left of the goal. As Everton cut out Hernandez’s pass there were three of their players through bearing down on our goal but Meslier was quickly off his line and blocked their attempt as we came away with the ball. That was always going to be a danger with us pushing up for an equaliser. I couldn’t believe how quickly the game had gone past but it had been very entertaining. Harrison was replaced by Costa as we tried a final push to get a goal back. When Everton pulled Raphinha back they were very lucky as they were so close to doing it in the penalty area. With five minutes injury time on the clock, Leeds continued attacking and some great play saw Ayling’s shot career off their player off for a corner. An excellent cross from Costa saw Everton clear the ball and although it felt like a goal for us was not going to happen, you never know. I think you could tell that Hernandez hadn’t been playing for a while as he just wasn’t sharp enough at times, but it was good to see him getting some game time. As the whistle blew for full time it was hard lines Leeds as they had played well and never given up. With our next game not until Monday against Crystal Palace, we have a bit of a breather now.

My little grandson Freddie made the programme today too.

Having just received by Leeds United mishmash from Alex Bennett @footymishmash on Twitter, I’m proud to say I made the final publication. It’s good to see although I have no idea where I am going to put it!  LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leicester v Leeds United 31st January 2021 at the King Power Stadium

Photo taken from our visit to the King Power Stadium 24th October 2017

After another night, this week where I was wide awake till gone 4.00am, I suppose I should be thankful I did not have to be in Leeds a few hours later to travel to the game. There again, I would much rather have been there with our fans as I can always sleep on the coach.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Struijk, Ayling, Alioski, Phillips, Dallas, Rodrigo, Harrison, Bamford and Raphinha. Subs: Klich for Rodrigo (injured 21), and Costa for Raphinha (injured 80). Subs not used: Casilla, Roberts, Shackleton, Poveda, Hernandez, Davis and Charlie Cresswell. Leeds won the game 3-1 with goals from Dallas (15), Bamford (71) and Harrison (84). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: C. Kavanagh.

Alioski was penalised for a foul which gave Leicester an early free kick to the right of the penalty area, but they went for a shot that went straight over the bar. Bamford was being tightly marked and given no room with at least three Leicester players crowding him out. I thought it was a nice touch from Leicester when it was announced they were wearing black armbands for laundry lady Sheila Kent, who had worked at the club for 40 years.

Leeds had a good move but the final ball to Bamford was just out of his reach. Sadly, Leicester took an early lead in the 13th minute. It was a simple move in the end after our ball across the pitch was too short. Leicester ran through the middle and we were caught out as they were too fast, and the ball was put wide of Meslier to score. My heart sank at that moment.

As Ayling went on a run down the wing shortly afterwards and passed to Bamford I shouted for us to get an instant reply. Well, I got my wish as within two minutes of them scoring Bamford gave a pinpoint pass to Dallas who hit a sweet strike past their keeper Schmeichel an ex-Leeds player. What a goal and just what we needed! Dallas had scored in the home defeat by Leicester earlier in the season too.

Rodrigo went down injured after he stretched for a ball and eventually Leeds put the ball out for him to get treatment. I just thought no, please don’t let anyone go off injured today as it was very important, we kept a settled side. My heart sank again when another goal went in for Leicester but cheered up immediately when the flag went up for offside in what was an important decision for us. Sadly, Rodrigo went down injured again and did have to go off going straight down the tunnel for further treatment. At least I was happy that Klich came on as his replacement. It was a shame a ball didn’t bounce high enough to go over their keeper’s head and into the goal for us. Harrison wasn’t strong enough to keep the ball on the wing but chased back immediately to prevent the ball going out for a corner.

A few minutes later a great cross over to Harrison saw him hit the ball first time without hesitation which brought a good save out of their keeper to give Leeds a corner. As Klich put the ball into the net from close range after the keeper made a great save from a Bamford header, we saw the flag had gone up after Klich had strayed offside. Leeds kept up the pressure as the keeper had to make another great save from Raphinha to stop us taking the lead. Meslier was then called into action to boot the ball away as we looked open at the back and then smothered another shot shortly after. Leicester were forced to make a change just before the break due to their player having a groin injury. Ayling ended up in the book when he brought their man down with his arm as there was no way he was catching him. Is he suspended now? I was not sure for certain.

In the closing minutes of the half Leeds won a free kick when they were all over Bamford after loads had been given to them, but we weren’t able to keep the ball after they cleared our corner. I was desperate for them not to score before the whistle went for half time as Leeds crowded them out in the penalty area. I breathed a sigh of relief after they nearly got through again but Meslier saved the first shot and pounced on the ball at the second attempt on just before injury time. Well done Leeds, keep them out at all costs. It was nice to see their player not make a meal out of it after staying down when Alioski stood on top of his foot as the advantage was played. A good move from Leeds saw Harrison run out of pitch to cross the ball which was a shame, as the last minutes of injury time seemed to drag but we went in at half time on level terms.

Leicester made another change at the start of the second half as they started on the attack and put Leeds under pressure.  We must watch our back line as Struijk made a great block for a corner but there was no one marking their two spare men in front of Meslier. Ayling needed treatment for bleeding on his forehead as play carried on whilst he was getting treatment. I didn’t see what had happened though. Meslier made a couple of vital saves with some brave keeping. I thought Cooper was in danger of being sucked in to conceding free kicks when he was penalised for a foul; he’d been lucky Leicester weren’t awarded a penalty when he pulled their player’s shirt in the penalty area and brought him down. Luckily for us VAR and Mike Dean said no problem as play carried on.

Leicester were still on the attack as Dallas went to left back to cover for Alioski who ran forwards. Meslier had to make a couple more saves to keep them out before Dallas was booked for bringing their player down when beaten. Good play from Struijk in defence then saw him flying through the air from a foul further up the pitch which won Leeds a free kick. After all the Leicester attacking suddenly, Leeds took charge of the game after winning the ball back then three passes and the ball was in the net.  A pinpoint pass from Raphinha saw Bamford hit a fantastic shot into the top right of the goal to put us into the lead with 14 minutes of normal time left. Absolutely brilliant Leeds.

Leicester looked to make another change, but their player did not come straight on as they upped the pressure again with Leeds now leading. Klich’s late challenge saw us get another yellow card. From the resulting free kick Phillips at the far post was caught out as their player got in behind him to cross the ball which we put out for a corner. It was a heart in our mouths time as the ball came across the box, as they had two unmarked players bearing down on the back post but were able to breathe a sigh of relief as the ball went wide. A great save from Meslier, plus he caught another at the second attempt, kept Leicester out as they did not stop the pressure. Some good defending from Raphinha saw us battling as a team to keep them out. Raphinha was injured which saw Costa coming on to replace him and Leicester made their third substitution at the same time.

Leeds won a corner and Leicester had to kick the ball off the line to keep us out. Another fantastic run from Bamford after a pinpoint pass from Klich, saw him through and as their player nearly caught up with him in the penalty area, he passed the ball across to Harrison in a better position to stick the ball into the net to put Leeds 3-1 up with six minutes remaining. A classic Leeds goal, Struijk defending, then attack and in the goal at the other end in seconds. Loved it! Get in Leeds that will hopefully see us win the game. Bamford was injured in the final minutes, but he said afterwards that it was cramp so that is a relief. He was my man of the match which was also confirmed by Sky. That was a great win for us as Leicester had been unbeaten in seven games and were riding high amongst the top teams of the table. Although our position in the table had not changed, we have 29 points and are only four points off the top six places. Keep going Leeds, keep aiming for the top and having those fantastic goals to cheer today makes it all worthwhile. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Newcastle v Leeds United 26th January 2021 at St James’ Park

Photo from 2016-17 St James’ Park

With the Southampton game postponed, the pitch at Elland Road will have been replaced by the time we play our next home game against Everton in February. I’ve seen the sum of £300,000 mentioned with the HT Pro hybrid pitch the same as at Tottenham and Swansea. This is a temporary replacement as the pitch is due for reconstruction at the end of the season along with a new drainage system. Also, Leeds announced further investment into the club by an affiliated entity of the 49ers with the increase of their share holding to 37%. Paraag Marathe now becomes the Vice Chairman of Leeds United.

Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente, Dallas, Harrison, Ayling, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford, Phillips and Alioski. Subs: Struijk for Llorente (10) Klich for Alioski (55) and Roberts for Bamford (59). Subs not used: Casilla, Poveda, Hernandez, Costa, Davis and Shackleton. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals scored by Raphinha (17) and Harrison (61). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Anthony Taylor.

My stomach had been churning for hours before the game today so I was a little nervous knowing how important a win would be.  In the opening minutes of the game numerous players were injured and then Llorente went down and had to be replaced after 10 minutes. Once again with a comeback game, Llorente has found himself injured. This was a big blow for us especially as he has spent more time on the treatment table than on the pitch since he arrived at Leeds. It would have been nice to see him get a full game under his belt but sadly it wasn’t to be. Hopefully, he was just taken off as a precaution. A fantastic cross from Dallas to Harrison at the far post looked like it would be slammed into the net, but he didn’t connect with the ball right and the chance went wide. Leeds won a few corners in quick succession before taking the lead after some great build up play, when Rodrigo pulled a great pass back across the penalty area for Raphinha on the edge of the box to score on 17 minutes. It was Meslier’s turn to be treated by the trainer after he got a knee in the face and was down on the deck.

Leeds had the most possession and great moves in the first half but just before half time, Newcastle went on a run and won a corner. Meslier dropped the cross but in front of Struijk who shielded the ball to him. Leeds had a couple of good chances prior to that with some great moves and Rodrigo was unlucky not to get on the scoresheet. Raphinha found himself knocked over by Ayling in their penalty area whilst we were on the attack. I was quite surprised to see the referee keep his yellow cards in his pocket as I felt there were a few tackles that warranted a booking, especially the one who caught the back of Raphinha’s ankle. We nearly got complacent when Cooper glanced a short ball back to Meslier that put us under pressure, but Meslier was quickly out to smother the ball. Due to all the stoppages, it was no surprise to see five minutes of injury time added on. Leeds ended the half on the attack and some of the passes cut through the Newcastle defence were sublime, but they battled to keep us out as the whistle blew just when we’d won another corner.

At the start of the second half, Leeds were unlucky not to go further into the lead after a great ball from Raphinha saw the ball rebound off Dallas and into the net, but the goal was disallowed for handball. It was still a stop start game due to injuries, but with Leeds a man down, the referee played on and Newcastle won a corner. The resulting shot from them was straight at Meslier. Just after that Meslier took another knee to his face and needed treatment. The poor lad was certainly in the wars today. Bielsa brought Klich on to replace Alioski on 55 mins and I thought we needed to change things to get back on top. With Newcastle coming out for the second half rejuvenated, sadly for us they scored more or less straight away after the substitution. The goal came from a Leeds mistake when we had won the ball back but then gave it away too easily. Although Meslier got his hands to it, the pace of the ball and with our defence beaten, it meant he didn’t stand a chance of stopping the ball going into the net. Roberts came on to replace Bamford, but Leeds managed to get in front again a few minutes later. A glorious ball once again from Raphinha reached Harrison on the left-hand side and this time he made no mistake and slammed the ball into the net.

Leeds were having to battle as Newcastle upped their game when Struijk took the ball off their toes in our penalty area. Rodrigo sent a fantastic ball to Raphinha and the final ball was just out of reach of Roberts. That had been a good chance. Newcastle won a couple of corners as the final header went over the top of the bar. One challenge by Leeds which I thought was a 50/50 tussle saw their player fall over and awarded a free kick in a good position. Newcastle had certainly woken up this half especially when a fantastic save from Meslier denied them an equaliser. They then ran all the way through us with Roberts having no chance of catching their player, which brought another fantastic save from Meslier. There was no pressure on their player from us but also, we couldn’t bring their player down either in a crucial position. Newcastle won another free kick outside the area and were looking strong down the left-hand side of the pitch towards our goal. Rodrigo was booked for diving; he’d been tackled him from behind and then their player retaliated putting his head in Rodrigo’s face, so he got out of the way! Their player was bleeding in the mouth, but any contact was accidental. I thought Newcastle were the ones being antagonistic anyway. Ayling’s cross was put out over the bar for a corner to Leeds then a deflection from Klich was put out for another one. Raphinha had a header come off their player and caught by their keeper as the whistle went for full time. Raphinha played well today and won a deserved man of the match

That was a hard fought 2-1 win especially during the second half, so getting three points was vital. With the forthcoming Leicester game being on Sunday at least we have a few days for Llorente to recover. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Brighton 16th January 2021 at Elland Road

If anyone hasn’t seen the thread I posted yesterday on social media, make sure you head over to the link on my website to be taken back to the terraces on the Kop in 1974.

http://www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk/a-blast-from-the-past-leeds-united-kop-v-derby-6th-april-1974-authentic-recording-done-by-heidi-haigh-contains-swearing

A blast from the past! Leeds United Kop v Derby 6th April 1974 – authentic recording done by Heidi Haigh. Contains swearing.

This is a blast from the past! An authentic cassette recording from Leeds United v Derby County on 6th April 1974. This was recorded by me, Heidi Haigh, a loyal Leeds United fan of over 50 years when I took my cassette recorder onto the Kop to record the singing of the fans. Enjoy listening to it and taking you back to a time when Leeds United were crowned First Division Champions a few weeks later! To say the cassette has survived for nearly 47 years to keep those memories alive is brilliant plus it includes Ronnie Hilton’s records at the end and thank you to him for giving us a chance to sing those songs on the terraces.

The rumours about Meslier not playing turned out to be true and with Phillips suspended for the game today it meant a reshuffle of the team.

Team: Casilla, Dallas, Ayling, Cooper, Alioski, Struijk, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Bamford, Harrison and Klich. Subs: Roberts for Rodrigo (62), Hernandez for Alioski (67) and Poveda for Raphinha (75). Subs not used: Caprile, Davis, Llorente, Jenkins, Roberts, Costa and Shackleton. Leeds lost the game 1-0. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee. Kevin Friend.

With all the recent snow and rain, the pitch looked heavy and was cutting up in places very quickly. The good news is the pitch is going to be replaced at the end of the season according to Kinnear’s programme notes today.

Leeds has a good chance early on after a great cross from Harrison saw Rodrigo put off by their defender in front of goal and he couldn’t stick the ball into the net. Brighton ran through us from a throw in and their player went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Ayling, but the referee waved play on. Klich had a shot over the bar on 15 minutes. From the goal kick somehow, Brighton suddenly ran through us and when I expected their player to pass to the wing, they passed into the penalty area. The final cross to the far side of the goal saw their man in the middle all on his own to put the ball into the net on 17 minutes. Leeds had been ball watching rather than the man who snuck in behind Ayling.

Bamford was flagged offside which I disputed as he was behind their man and shouted to the linesman to get a grip. Brighton still looked dangerous and were running rings around us when the ball deflected off Ayling and hit the underside of the crossbar and away. It felt like a practice match from our perspective with extremely poor passing and at one time I felt like I could go to sleep.

To me it was the aftermath of our FA Cup loss to Crawley where instead of winning breeding winning, we looked down and out at times. Raphinha was robbed of the ball as White now playing for Brighton ran forward into our box but Ayling and Struijk between them, in the penalty area, got the ball away. Leeds tried to attack but the ball rebounded off the referee in a good position, but the new rules meant the game was stopped. I was expecting a dropped ball but the next thing I saw the Brighton keeper had the ball so I’m not sure what happened next? We continued to attack but our final balls were rubbish. I felt really frustrated by the way Leeds were playing when first from a corner Raphinha’s cross was easily picked up by their keeper in the middle, then instead of going forwards, we passed back for the move to start again. Harrison playing his 100th game for us had played really well on the left-hand side but then switched sides with Raphinha very early in the game which didn’t make sense to me. As it turned out Harrison is the only player today who did something. Any time we did manage to get forward the keeper easily gathered the crosses. It feels like our pitch is impeding our players for some reason at this moment, more than it does the opposition. Brighton still managed to do one touch passing whilst ours seemed to have disappeared. I was feeling at a loss on how to change things as Raphinha kept trying long passes, but none were reaching our players. Ayling was booked when he caught the toes of their player, but I didn’t think it was too bad a foul. As it was coming up to half time and their player stayed down, time wasting came to mind. It was a relief when the whistle blew on what had been a rubbish half for Leeds United.

We certainly needed to up our game in the second half as we have been extremely poor. My thoughts were that we should make changes but at the time did not know who, apart from changing our formation and try Rodrigo and Bamford up front.

There were no changes at the restart and after a few minutes into the second half, I felt totally demoralised. As Brighton attacked, we were standing watching them before letting them shoot wide. Leeds started attacking more as we changed formation with two up front and a good move ended with a final shot from Harrison that went wide across the goal. Some good work from Ayling saw him cross the ball to the left which was picked up by Raphinha. He did well to get past their defenders, but the final ball was too long and nowhere near any of our men. As we gave a silly ball away again it gave them a chance, but luckily for us the shot went over the bar. Our passing was way too short as we kept giving the ball away and if that’s not a wakeup call for Leeds, I don’t know what is.

Roberts came on followed by Hernandez as we tried to get back into the game as to me getting back on level terms would make a difference, but I could not see us scoring. Roberts had our first shot on target on 65 minutes that was saved by their keeper after a great pass from Bamford. At least we were looking more balanced now as we had a good 10-minute spell of attacking although we never got any clear chances on goal. Roberts won a free kick after having his shirt pulled but it came to nothing. Despite the game being so frustrating, getting a goal would be a relief. Our passing never improved though, and we always tried to keep making a final pass instead of trying to shoot.

We won a couple of corners in quick succession but with the latter one could not beat the first man. The Brighton team were dictating the play and suddenly had a shot with Casilla out of goal but luckily, he saved it even though he spilled the ball and caught it at the second attempt. Although we had a lot of possession it felt like we were trying to walk the ball into the net but with one attack, Brighton were awarded a free kick from a Bamford shot. Why I had no idea?

With Harrison being the only stand out player for me today, I have not got anything positive to say about the game. The game once again had that déjà vu feeling about it and you could just tell that nothing was going to work for us today. A bad day at the office all round as well as a frustrating one. It is a good job we have a break now due to the Southampton game being postponed for an FA Cup game to take place. At least by sleeping on things, I can forget about this bad week for football as a Leeds fan. LUFC – Marching on Together!

A blast from the past! Leeds United Kop v Derby 6th April 1974 -authentic recording done by Heidi Haigh. Contains swearing.

This is a blast from the past! An authentic cassette recording from Leeds United v Derby County on 6th April 1974. This was recorded by me, Heidi Haigh, a loyal Leeds United fan of over 50 years when I took my cassette recorder onto the Kop to record the singing of the fans. Enjoy listening to it and taking you back to a time when Leeds United were crowned First Division Champions a few weeks later! To say the cassette has survived for nearly 47 years to keep those memories alive is brilliant plus it includes Ronnie Hilton’s records at the end and thank you to him for giving us a chance to sing those songs on the terraces. LUFC – Marching on Together!

25% discount on all books through my publisher JMD Media – use code HAIGH25 to get your discount

There is a 25% discount available on all books bought through my publisher JMD Media with many different genres.

Leeds United books – including my latest one Leeds Are Going to the Premier League!

Heidi Haigh author of:
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, Leeds United in the 1980s
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United, Leeds United 2018-19
Leeds are going to the Premier League! Leeds United 2019-20

 

Crawley v Leeds United 10th January 2021 at The People’s Pension Stadium – FA Cup 3rd round

After the recent further lockdown measures were announced which sent me once again into a downward spiral with plenty of tears, I know I am not the only one. To all of you out there who are struggling, I know I rely on family, friends, and my Leeds United family to talk about things and help me through. Please do the same as we are all in this and can pull through together.

Team: Casilla, Cooper (back from injury), Davis, Struijk, Phillips, Costa, Poveda, Hernandez, Shackleton, Alioski and Rodrigo. Subs: Casey for Cooper (45), Jenkins for Struijk (45), Harrison for Rodrigo (45), Raphinha for Davis (58) and Greenwood for Poveda (58). Subs not used: Elia Caprile, and Niall Huggins. Leeds lost the game 3-0. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Peter Bankes.

From the start Crawley were looking to attack us as much as possible and forced two early corners. A great ball from Poveda to Rodrigo saw him stretch for the ball in their penalty area. Maybe it would still have been in front of him and out of reach, but a flying header may have been a better option, but it was a good move though. We saw some nifty footwork from Costa and I’m hoping the run out today will start to give him confidence again, as he hasn’t done so well for me when coming on as sub recently. Crawley saw a deflected shot easily saved by Casilla. Leeds then had a couple of good chances and with one, a Poveda shot was saved by their keeper’s feet. There were a few good moves from both sides that didn’t come to anything. There were two great balls sent through at different times that were really close to Shackleton, but he couldn’t get on the end of them. We saw some great work from Poveda that ended with the ball across the box. Rodrigo waiting in the centre had his arm pulled back and went down so we should have been awarded a penalty. The referee played on as Leeds continued to put pressure on their defence. Poveda and Costa had made some great runs down the wings, but we couldn’t capitalise on them. We were up against some giants again so needed to keep the ball on the floor.  Crawley had a good run but were flagged offside.

My thoughts today were that we had to make sure we did not gift any goals to Crawley because a lot of the goals conceded this season have come from mistakes. This was highlighted when Poveda won the ball back from them, then a bad pass from Davis gave it back to them which I found frustrating. A great move involving Hernandez; he passed the ball to Rodrigo who turned and shot. Although the final shot wasn’t on target it was worth a go. A mistake from Phillips with a sloppy pass was pounced on by Crawley to ran at Leeds and win a corner. Crawley sent a great corner over everyone to their man at the far post which brought a great save from Casilla from the header. That should have been a wake-up call for Leeds. Hernandez tried once again to get his pass to Shackleton in the penalty area and it was a shame it didn’t come off. Costa and Poveda switched wings as we tried to change our attack with half time looming but with no injury time played the whistle blew more or less on time. The commentators were saying they were surprised Leeds had not taken the game by the scruff of the neck. For me, it was a different team playing for us again so I felt we would grow into the game in the second half and did not anticipate any changes.

Well, what do I know? Bielsa obviously disagreed with me and brought on three subs at the start of the second half. With Harrison, Casey and Jenkins brought on for Rodrigo, Struijk and Cooper we changed our formation to a back four. I could see that due to Cooper coming back from injury that may have been an issue but would not have made the subs so early as it changed the game and weakened us as a team. That is not having a go at the players who came on, but Crawley had been strong in midfield in the first half anyway. Within six minutes of the restart, they had scored two goals in two minutes to go into the lead with the second one beating Casilla at the near post. I felt we had gifted them the game on a plate, it looked like we were not bothered about going forwards in the cup and have thrown the towel in. I know my mood hasn’t been great recently anyway and this contributed to me getting very angry about the whole game.

We did get behind the defence in a good move but with Costa being offside in the build-up I don’t think it would have counted if it had gone in anyway. Sam Greenwood and Raphinha were then brought on for Davies and Poveda which provided a bit more to the team formation, but overall, we looked very ordinary and had no sense of urgency. To me Harrison playing in the middle had no effect and maybe we had too many playing out of position. Crawley were still the team looking more likely to score as Casilla put a shot around the post for a corner. There was a little and large situation with Shackleton man marking but we managed to clear the ball. The game was over and done when Crawley scored a third goal from a free kick which saw Casilla save the first shot and they smacked the ball in from the rebound. They nearly got a fourth goal when they got through, but with Casilla right out of goal he did enough to put their player off and we got the ball away.

Crawley deserve their win, but I am cross with the decision to bring three subs on at the start of the second half which killed the game for me. We looked so unbalanced then and it gave Crawley the impetus. To me the FA Cup is still sacrilege and we should fight for it, but it seems we don’t give a damn anymore which is unacceptable. For those fans who weren’t brought up with it like I was which I find very sad, they only want to concentrate on the league. Having a good cup run as well as doing well in the league would be my ambition and give us fans something to savour in these challenging times. Sadly, it was not to be, again! LUFC – Marching on Together!

Tottenham Hotspur (Spurs) v Leeds United 2nd January 2021 at The Tottenham Hotspur Stadium

Here is to 2021 showing some light at the end of that awfully long dark tunnel. Today, I was looking forward to visiting a new ground but sadly we were still seeing games behind closed doors. Although I’ve been to White Hart Lane many times before, this would have been the first visit for me as well as other Leeds fans. As it was, sat at home with the log fire burning and the snow falling, at least we will not be battling the weather today.

Team: Meslier, Alioski, Ayling (captain), Harrison, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Klich, Phillips, Dallas, Bamford and Struijk. Subs: Poveda for Harrison (61), Shackleton for Alioski (64) and Hernandez for Rodrigo (65). Subs not used: Casilla, Costa, Cresswell. Huggins, Casey, and Jenkins. Leeds lost the game 3-0, a penalty awarded to Spurs on 29 minutes changed the game. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: David Coote.

With the cameras being so far from the pitch I should have put my glasses on to watch them. Leeds made a good move which saw Alioski shoot into the side netting which was a good chance. For the first seven minutes of the game, Leeds had a lot of possession and were going forward. Another good move out of defence saw Bamford unlucky with a chance. Meslier had to come out quick to claim the ball at the edge of the area as Spurs looked to be biding their time and come at us down the centre of the pitch. At the other end Bamford was being crowded out with four Spurs players around him at one time. I kept thinking it was a shame the early chance for Alioski did not come off. Spurs shot over the bar when we could not clear the ball and it kept lingering benefitting Spurs and just after that Meslier made a save to keep them out. The referee played advantage after a foul and the final header from Bamford went over the bar, but it had been a good chance. A ball out from Meslier down the centre of the pitch to our man, was picked up by Spurs instead who ran forward and got a penalty when Alioski brought their man down on the line. The ball should have gone to the right rather than the centre in my opinion, but they may have still won the ball. As that decision went against the run of play, to me it changed the game for us. They scored from the penalty which then gave them hope as Leeds relied on good defending to stop them getting a further goal.

Leeds were trying to get back into the game taking a free kick quickly and Bamford did well to get it through as Spurs kicked the ball away just in front of their keeper for a throw in for Leeds. Another good move saw Klich put a great pass through to Raphinha who found his shot saved by the keeper. The game was being played at a fast pace as Spurs counterattacked and got in a dangerous position but luckily for us their shot went over the bar. There was some good defending from Ayling but with Leeds battling and still attacking, we got forwards. Bamford clipped the ball in their penalty area, but there was no one was close enough behind him to hit the ball into the net from a great position. Another great move from Leeds ended with a great shot from Harrison that was just over the bar but deserved a goal. Nice play from Bamford on the edge of the box saw him wait ready to pass to two or three of our players but a path opened for him and the keeper saved his shot. Sadly, for us we took our eyes off the ball as Spurs counterattacked with a long kick from their keeper. We managed to win the ball, but Spurs persistence saw them win it back and put a cross over that saw their player steal in between Dallas and Ayling to score a second goal just before half time. That London hoodoo strikes again. As we were losing 2-0 at half time, I would be happy to get a draw out of the game at least.

I was expecting changes for the start of the second half as I thought Phillips had been quiet in the first half but Bielsa didn’t make any. As we started well with a good cross that was headed away, my initial thoughts were maybe Bielsa was right not making any changes as I shouted, “Come on Leeds”. With that, a Spurs counterattack saw the ball running for them after a quick free kick which saw a brilliant save from Meslier which rebounded around the post. Sadly, they got a third goal from the corner. Their player managed to head the ball when surrounded by our players and Meslier was very unlucky stopping the ball just over the line when he tried keeping it out. Bielsa lost his balance at the side of the pitch as he was shouting out orders to the team. The penalty changed the game, but we needed to change our formation now. We were losing the ball in midfield which was the main issue for me, and we needed to change things. If Bielsa turned out to be right and we got back to 3-3 then I would eat my words.

As it was Bielsa did make changes with Poveda coming on for Harrison. Leeds were still attacking but Spurs were crowding us out in the penalty area before counterattacking us again which saw some good defending from Ayling and then another great save by Meslier. With Shackleton replacing Alioski and then a minute later Hernandez on for Rodrigo, Leeds would continue to attack. When some Leeds attacking broke down, we had to be thankful for Meslier in goal making the save. Spurs were not giving us any space and the thing I found frustrating was no real clear chances for us. As Spurs broke out from defence, they shot from the halfway line but Meslier raced back in his goal as the ball went over. I was desperate for a goal to go in to give us hope as Leeds won two corners in quick succession after good play from Hernandez. A Raphinha shot was saved by their keeper in the 80th minute as Leeds tried getting closer to scoring. A great cross from Klich was just too far in front for Raphinha to get on the end of.

Most of the attacking was by Leeds now as they defended well from Spurs counterattacks. A Bamford header was easily saved by their keeper, then Dallas was down getting treatment at one time but carried on playing afterwards. Phillips found himself in the book which means he is suspended for Crawley now after getting five bookings. To be honest it is good timing although I do not think he played well today, maybe he was shackled too much. Doherty was sent off for a foul on Hernandez in injury time when the late tackle caught him on his instep. It is a shame this happened so late in the game that we could have used to our advantage although I wouldn’t have wished the tackle on Hernandez. As the whistle blew for full time with Leeds losing 3-0, my mantra was, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, try again”.  We will get there Leeds, but it will take time. I would much rather see our attacking play than spend 90 minutes passing the ball across the back four and never getting out of our half as we have done in the past. We win some and we lose some comes to mind.

Onto Crawley in the FA Cup which would have been another new ground for me had we been allowed to be there. As someone posted on social media this week, we need to put a strong team out for the game, without those nearing suspension or battling injuries and go for it with some youngsters involved. I totally agree; the FA Cup is still near to my heart with my favourite ever game seeing Billy Bremner lift the cup at Wembley from Her Majesty the Queen in 1972. LUFC – Marching on Together!

West Bromwich Albion (WBA) v Leeds United 29th December 2020 at The Hawthorns

After being out for most of the afternoon I thought I had better check the kick-off time for the game as I’d assumed it was 8pm. Mm, it’s a good job I did otherwise I’d have missed a one-sided game with Leeds hammering WBA 5-0.

Team: Meslier, Ayling, Alioski, Dallas, Bamford, Klich, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Harrison, Struijk and Phillips. Subs: Shackleton for Klich (58), Hernandez for Rodrigo (70) and Costa for Raphinha (81). Subs not used: Casilla, Roberts, Davis, Jenkins, Casey and Poveda. Leeds won the game 5-0 with an own goal by Sawyers (9), Alioski (31), Harrison (36), Rodrigo (40) and Raphinha (72) being the scorers of our goals. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Lee Mason.

After the tense game against Burnley, one of my comments to others was that grinding out results shows we are a good team. Having had the privilege of watching the great Don Revie side, many times we had to do the same to get the points.

A fantastic cross from Rodrigo across the box saw no one far enough up the pitch to knock it into the net. The game turned on its head with a spectacular own goal nine minutes into the game when a long back pass was put straight into the goal with the keeper out of the goalmouth. That was just the start we needed. Leeds continued to attack and a through ball from Klich didn’t get to our man but maybe he’d have been better having a go himself as a gap had opened up in front of him. WBA had a rare attack, but it was great back up from Dallas to nip the ball off their toes in the penalty area to put the ball out for a corner to them. A good shot from long range by Phillips was saved by their keeper. Dallas with a good bit of play down the wing saw the final cross blocked. Bamford passed the ball to Harrison who beat their man but sent a shot wide with two men coming down the middle. It is always worth trying a shot but also a chip to one of the two players steaming in may have resulted in a goal.

As it was, we did not have long to wait for a second goal with a great cross from Raphinha over to Alioski who went on to smack a fantastic strike into the net to double our lead on 31 minutes. Leeds were now on a roll and a fantastic goal from Harrison made it three five minutes later. I thought Alioski looked like he had blood around his mouth before realising he was bleeding from his nose and had to go off to get a clean shirt and get seen to. I hadn’t seen anything happen so hopefully someone will enlighten me in due course. Things were happening thick and fast as Leeds got a fourth with a deflected Rodrigo goal on 40 minutes. Wow fantastic Leeds as the game was very one sided, we were playing so well, and it was well deserved. Just after that Alioski was booked when diving in on their player. I wondered if that was a bit of retaliation and maybe he was the one who did something to him? Just before the break a Raphinha shot was pushed out by the keeper just missing Harrison as they cleared the ball. A 4-0 score line at half time showed how dominant Leeds had been. It was too much for Sam Allardyce who had only just taken over as manager, as he went down the tunnel before the whistle blew.

At the start of the second half there should have been a booking for a foul on the back of Raphinha’s calf, but WBA got away with it. They came out with a bit more fight in them and won a corner but from that, Leeds won a free kick with a blatant push on Harrison. As the commentators were wondering if Leeds would still push for further goals, I knew the answer would be yes and the best form of defence is attack. A good run forwards saw Bamford’s shot deflected for a corner, but this was cleared by WBA. It was quite funny seeing their player fall and sit on the ball when trying to attack as Leeds came away with the ball. As I shouted keep the comedy act up it didn’t quite work out that way. As we played out from the box the back pass to Meslier put him under pressure and he passed a short ball out to our player that WBA got to first. As their player took the ball forward Meslier made a first save, then a second one, as we cleared the ball. Klich was down getting treatment and then went off with Shackleton brought on as a substitute.

There was some good defending from Rodrigo before WBA got another corner. This time Leeds broke away putting pressure on WBA before Hernandez replaced Rodrigo. I was a little mystified when WBA had a throw in as I thought Meslier with plenty of time and space around him was going to pick the ball up. Suddenly he kicked it out for another throw in. That got me thinking, was he not allowed to pick the ball up for a throw in or did he get confused? As far as I was concerned the keeper could pick the ball up unless there has been a rule change, I wasn’t aware of? It didn’t really matter though because shortly afterwards, Raphinha made it five with a fantastic run down the wing and then across the box with a sweetly struck strike into the top left-hand corner of the goal. Leeds were still looking to attack and a great ball from Hernandez through to Dallas saw Leeds win a corner. Ayling was unlucky as he shot over the bar from the corner. Another good run this time from Alioski saw him pass to Harrison and his cross saw a great shot from Bamford hit their player and go out for a corner. Bamford despite not one of the scorers today lost the ball but then fought and won it back but there was a WBA player down so Leeds put the ball out so he could receive treatment. Raphinha was replaced by Costa but the former was extremely disappointed not to be staying on the pitch. A great cross from Harrison evaded everyone and was just out of reach of Struijk coming in at the far post trying to get to the ball. A bad pass from Hernandez gave WBA a chance but offered no threat as their shot went way over the top of the goal. A couple more Leeds attacks saw firstly a good run from Ayling, but the final ball was cleared and then some good play between Dallas and Hernandez. There were only two minutes of injury time on the clock which surprised me but then I thought the referee wouldn’t want to prolong the agony for WBA. As Leeds started going backwards towards our goal, I was shouting don’t go back we want six, as the whistle went for full time. What a result Leeds, thoroughly deserved and giving us another three points.

When this year started, I was glad to see the back of 2019 when my husband had a battle with cancer. As the year draws to a close and I reflect on 2020, little did I know this year was going to see Leeds United promoted back to the Premier League and we as fans were not allowed to be there in person to witness it. The Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic has meant an incredibly challenging time for everyone and I really hope that we can get back to some normality sooner rather than later. Leeds United lost three of our legends in Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry and Big Jack Charlton as well as many Leeds United fans throughout the year with some not even knowing we had achieved our dream of promotion. My thoughts go out to family and friends of all those who died.

Going forwards into 2021, I really thought our 2nd January trip to Spurs would see away fans back at games as I was looking forward to going to a new ground. Obviously, that won’t happen, and neither will the visit to Crawley too in the FA Cup the week after. I can’t wait to be amongst our fans again and want to wish you all a Happy New Year and a better year in 2021. LUFC – Marching on Together!

Leeds United v Burnley 27th December at Elland Road

 


 
I hope everyone managed to have a good Christmas despite the challenging circumstances we all find ourselves under. My grandson Freddie now fits properly into this season’s Leeds kit after he was born nine weeks prematurely. He is pictured with his Leeds football that he got for Christmas with a set of little goals. Simply perfect for someone born to be Leeds. Thank you to Andy Epp for sharing his photo with my new book Leeds Are Going to the Premier League and Martin and Jack Brown who were delighted to receive their book showing the Foreword that they did for it. For all those who found the book amongst their Christmas presents this year, enjoy the read and thank you once again to everyone for your continued support which is greatly appreciated.

I finally managed to share on my website, part of the Marcelo Bielsa documentary recorded by France TV in July which stars me, Heidi Haigh, Adam Pope and Phil Hay. Sadly, due to copyright issues I was not able to share the whole documentary but a big thank you goes to Adam Pope for giving me something to share with everyone. Most of the documentary is in French apart from our pieces. I also recently found another of my cassettes of the Kop/Gelderd End singing from the Derby game on 6th April 1974 when I took my cassette recorder onto the Kop. I thought I must have mistakenly given that to Mick Hewitt when I sold a lot of my things to him after I moved to a new house 15+ years ago so was thrilled to find it. I will post that as soon as I can but listening to it all last night, brought back so many memories as Leeds went on to win the First Division as Champions a few weeks later. I had been so scared to play it in case it snapped but hopefully I have found a way to get a copy of it to share.

Thank you to the Leeds United Supporters Club Johannesburg branch for letting me share their photo of them watching the Burnley game today.

Team: Meslier, Ayling (Captain), Struijk (in for the injured Cooper, abdominal injury), Alioski, Bamford, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Klich, Harrison, Phillips and Dallas. Subs: Hernandez for Rodrigo (59), Shackleton for Klich (66) and Poveda for Raphinha (70). Subs not used: Casilla, Davis, Costa, Roberts, Casey and Jack Jenkins. Referee: Robert Jones. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors.

Bielsa had only made one change to the team due to Cooper’s injury but looked to have changed our formation as we set off with three centre halves with Phillips in the middle. We started off playing deep and messing about with our passing which ended with a Burnley corner. It was good to see we had a player on each post with reminisces of the Revie years for me. Leeds had a great attack which saw Ayling send a long forward pass that beat the defence. Bamford kept on running and was then brought down by the keeper to give Leeds a penalty. Bamford himself took a great penalty that sent him into double figures for goals scored, that put Leeds into the lead after five minutes.

A brilliant ball from Raphinha to Alioski in the penalty area should have ended better but the shot was poor. Meslier punched the ball out after a free kick was given for a Dallas push. Leeds had another good move with a shot from Rodrigo, but it lacked power and the keeper saved although he seemed to fumble the save. Another attack saw a Raphinha header going over the top, but the flag was up for offside. Burnley were given a free kick and scored from it. Meslier went for the ball and collided with their player and they scored from there despite the efforts of Ayling on the line, but it was then disallowed for a foul on our keeper. The commentators were ranting that it was a good goal but for once the decision went our way, so we were still leading after 19 minutes. Burnley were making it difficult for us to come forwards as we kept passing the ball across the back four when all I wanted was for us to pass forwards to stop putting pressure on ourselves. Bamford won a corner and from a second corner their keeper tipped the ball over the top from Klich’s shot. There was some nice play from Dallas as he shielded the ball to win it back. Klich had a shot that was way over the top of the goal, but it was worth a try as being unpredictable can work in our favour. I found myself kicking every ball desperate for us to not give Burnley anything at all. The referee gave Leeds a free kick after Rodrigo was fouled which earned their man a booking.

Another chance for Leeds was kicked off the line after some excellent play from Raphinha from a Harrison cross. At this moment of the game on 32 minutes, Leeds had 70 percent of the play. It looked like Wood ex-Leeds would score, but Ayling did enough to put him off with Meslier beaten. Some sloppy passing from Leeds was letting Burnley into the game. A Burnley corner saw Harrison and Raphinha on the line again, as Burnley were going mad shouting for another corner, the referee gave a goal kick. For all their shouting the referee got it spot on as the ball had indeed deflected but had come off their own player. Ayling won a free kick after being pushed off the ball by Wood which was another correct decision. Another great move resulted in a shot from Raphinha that was saved by the keeper. The nerves were certainly kicking in for me today as it was so important that we got three points after seeing that Arsenal had moved above us, putting us into 15th place which put me into a really anxious mood. I told myself that we were playing well and would be fine.

Their player Barnes was moaning that he had been fouled but replays showed him pulling Struijk’s shirt and keeping hold of his leg, silly man. Another great move saw Rodrigo recover to put the ball out wide to Harrison and then got on the end of the cross himself but sadly headed the ball wide. A shame really, as that would have been a great goal, but Leeds went into the break 1-0 in the lead thanks to the Bamford penalty.

As we kicked off towards the Kop at the start of the second half, I was willing Leeds on. We straight away started playing about at the back again which caused mistakes and put us under pressure. A good break out from Phillips saw a bad pass forwards that Burnley capitalised on to set up another attack.  Some good defending from Phillips with a vital header saw him put the ball out. More good defending from Ayling saw Burnley get penalised for offside thankfully. I thought it was a tight decision but my husband disagreed with me so I reckoned it must be down to the angle of the ball as I sat to the side of the tv screen. Raphinha was unlucky when his shot was blocked as Burnley came away with the ball, but Harrison chased it down. This game looked rife for Hernandez to come on at some point.

Meslier saved a couple of shots in near succession as Burnley had most of the attacking play at the start of the second half. We seemed to be bypassing midfield at this point as I thought we needed to change things as I did not want Burnley to score and get back into the game before we changed it. As it was Hernandez was already on his feet ready to come on in place of Rodrigo. Leeds were still having to do a lot of defending as Phillips got in front of Wood and put the ball out for a corner. We were putting ourselves under pressure with bad passing but the ball was running for Burnley. Playing out from the back is hard now but we need to back each other up. Every time we kick it out long, Burnley win it anyway so there is no happy medium at the moment.  Leeds had a great move which really should have ended in a goal with Dallas in so much space, but his final shot was too high. Shackleton then came on for Klich.

Struijk was unlucky when the ball went out for a corner as he was shielding it when the ball rebounded off his leg. Luckily from the corner, Meslier caught the ball at the second attempt but a free kick was given anyway. Raphinha made way for Poveda with 20 minutes left although I thought it would be Harrison going off, as Raphinha was making it hard for Taylor down that side. Suddenly Leeds came forward with a counterattack and a great run from Hernandez saw the keeper put the ball round the post to prevent a second goal. Burnley were not giving up as their shot brought an excellent save from Meslier. Phillips was in the thick of it again putting a header out from another corner as Burnley decided to make a double substitution. It felt like every minute to the final whistle was dragging in what seemed an awfully long game with just over 15 minutes left to play.

A Leeds attack broke down after Dallas should have hit a first time cross but took a second touch of the ball. Struijk was on the floor but if was funny seeing him get up and come away with the ball. Burnley had more possession and chances so far without scoring, but I was hoping that we would come into the game in the last few minutes to get a second goal to seal the victory. Westwood was then booked for Burnley after a foul was given against him. Leeds got forwards once more and were unlucky that the ball was whipped off Leeds toes in the penalty area before Bamford reached Hernandez’s pass. Burnley had another chance that went over the crossbar with Ayling putting him off. Another Leeds attack broke down after an excellent ball from Hernandez to Harrison saw the final ball not reach Bamford.

Burnley were looking dangerous as they won another corner as I was shouting for Leeds to clear it. Meslier punched the ball away then Burnley came back at us when Taylor got past Poveda, but Leeds managed to clear it. Meslier made another good save when he palmed the ball away from a corner. There was some great defending from Struijk, Phillips and Meslier but then the flag went up for offside giving us some respite. Barnes pushed over Hernandez and was then booked for mouthing off about it. Good, as I hate mouthy players and he deserved to go in the book so well-done referee.

With three minutes of injury time put up we faced a final onslaught as Ayling put the ball out for another corner to Burnley. As I was just wondering who the player in blue was, I suddenly realised it was their keeper. I would have loved a counterattack at that time but sadly we didn’t get the opportunity. Phillips tried to stop the ball going out for a corner, but they ended up with a free kick instead with Meslier tipping the resulting free kick over the top. As Alioski came away with the ball the whistle blew for full time. Thank goodness for that and what a relief, as I did not want Burnley to score at all. However tight and desperate it was at times; three points are all that matters.  This was one of those very nervous games where I was desperate for the win today which we got, but we also saw some great defending today so well-done lads. Grinding out results are the signs of a good team. The win got us up the table to 11th and ready for our next battle on Tuesday at West Bromwich Albion. LUFC – Marching on Together!

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