Leeds United v Brentford 21st August 2019 at Elland Road

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It’s been great seeing the feedback from the Leeds fans who have viewed the documentary Take Us Home : Leeds United. Thank you for all the positive comments for my cameo role in it which are gratefully received. I know some fans don’t want to watch it and I can quite understand that, but I found I really enjoyed it despite the painful and emotional scenes at the end. We’ll just have to go one better this year Leeds so automatic promotion is a must please. It was nice to meet Rik from the Netherlands in the Peacock before the game who came to introduce himself to me, having seen me in the documentary. Having seen both the Derby and West Brom wins at Elland Road last season, we agreed it would be third time lucky tonight also with a win against Brentford. It was nice to chat to some of our Welsh Whites before the game too. We made sure we went into the ground in plenty of time as I’d been asked to get photos of one of our mascots tonight. I’d met my sister Erica and friends before the game and I managed to find her in the East Stand with my camera. In the toilets in the ground I was just entering a cubicle when a voice shouted “Heidi, that’s my lucky toilet”. Well obviously, being the superstitious person I am, I understood perfectly and did the honourable thing and chose another one to go in and let Victoria keep the luck going.

The Team:- Casilla, Alioski (Douglas injured), Cooper, White, Dallas, Hernandez, Bamford, Forshaw, Klich, Phillips and Harrison. Subs: Costa for Harrison (65) and Eddie Nketiah (on loan from Arsenal making his home debut) for Hernandez (77). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Nketiah (81). Attendance was 35,004 with approximately 300 Brentford fans. Because the opposition had brought very few fans, this was the first game that the West Stand area at the front of the away fans became a Leeds United fans stand again. Getting more of our fans in the ground rather than having great empty spaces was a great initiative from the club.

Today would see the return of Pontus Jansson for his first game against us playing for the opposition. I was sad to see him leave Leeds because he was the one player who brought the fans and the team back together again and for that I am grateful. I can still see him in front of the Kop when he got us all going for the first time and that interaction with the team can now be seen all the time. As the teams came out it was good to see the interaction with Jansson and the current Leeds team which showed he was well thought of despite all the rumours that had been doing the rounds. The South Stand also sang “you’re Leeds and you know you are”. I for one didn’t accept the disruptive influence character assassination on him and at the end there were hugs all round with him and the Leeds players which were good to see. Good luck to him although not against us please.

As the teams kicked off, it was very much evens for a while with Leeds getting a few free kicks before Alioski found himself in the book for a foul. Although there weren’t many chances for either team, it took for Brentford to hit the post with Casilla beaten that brought the game to life in the 24th minute. Leeds went to the opposite end with Klich striking a shot that brought a good save out of their goalie. Bamford then put a header over the bar after a great cross from Alioski before a second chance of a header that went past the wrong side of the post. Brentford brought a save out of Casilla just before the break as we went in on level terms. The first half had passed very quickly though and it wasn’t surprising that we had not found it easy to get past Brentford.

The second half saw Leeds up the tempo getting a couple of corners in quick succession. Forshaw brought a save out of their goalie and with him coming close to scoring in the last couple of games, I feel sure a goal will come soon. We had a lot of the Kop shouting for a handball in the area and a penalty, which didn’t come. It will be interesting to see a replay as I didn’t see it. Dallas ended up with a booking after running up to the ref calling for the penalty as his pleas fell on deaf ears. Costa came on as a sub with half an hour to go to replace Harrison before Nketiah replaced Hernandez. It was interesting to see the new rules in force, that any player being subbed had to go off the pitch at the nearest point. That to me looks a good thing as there is nothing more annoying than players wasting time by taking ages to get off the pitch. As Costa started to make an impact, Nketiah was brought on in place of Hernandez. As I hadn’t been sure who was on the bench, I found I was impressed that we actually had some players on the bench who could make an impact. As it was within five minutes Leeds took the lead after some great work by Costa on the left hand side in front of us. As he passed the ball across to the middle of the goal, we were all cheering before Nketiah had even put it into the net. I can’t remember the last time we had players on the bench that could make an impact and also put some speed into the attack, which were great to see and get us the reward of a goal. Leeds were quite comfortable on the ball and limited Brentford to any attacks, although they were still a threat for the last minutes of the game but we were able to come out with the win to stay on top of the league with another three points.

Stoke City away on Saturday sees us visit the Bet365 stadium again which wasn’t a happy hunting ground for us last season. A friend of mine who supports them said we will get two wins in a week as we also play them at home next Tuesday in the second round of the Carabao Cup. As always, I never take anything for granted and will make my judgements by what I see on the pitch but am hopeful we will put on a better performance this time. As Bielsa tends not to make too many changes, I expect him to put the same team out but we will see on the day. If we get to the ground early enough I hope to head to the Power League pub next to the ground where away fans are welcome and also to see my friends.

As we headed to the steps of the Kop to go out, someone said is that Heidi Haigh, the Queen of the Kop? Thank you for the compliment and although I was grateful for the praise, I’m sure that view will only be from a few fans. On getting back to the car I put BBC Radio Leeds on but was dismayed to hear someone slagging Leeds fans off who had been having a go at Bamford. I thought they should focus on the whole ground continually singing his name rather than some individuals who made their feelings against him known. At the end of the day they are entitled to their opinion whether we agree with it or not. See you at Stoke, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Author of the following books:

  • 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
  • Out soon: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited