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!