Leeds United v Brentford 24th February 2018 at Elland Road

As we set off for Elland Road today, despite how cold it was, the sun was shining and the sky was blue. In my eyes this was a perfect setting for playing football in. When we got into the Peacock I said that I was expecting a win today seeing that we had been beaten and had two draws since Heckingbottom came to Leeds. As always, I go to games with an open mind and wait and see how things pan out on the pitch. A lot of Leeds players have come in for criticism recently on social media due to errors made which meant we conceded goals.  Whilst I can understand the frustrations I am hopeful that many players will be able to turn things around. I feel our fitness has been lacking and maybe the training methods will change now. Despite Wiedwald being on the receiving end of this too, I feel that with proper coaching he can turn things around too even if my views are in a minority. Being able to communicate with his defence, together with being able to come for a ball comfortably at corners will make a heck of a difference to his game.

As we were walking into the ground it was nice to catch up with Andy who I hadn’t seen for a while and his friend. He mentioned us turning up to see Jimmy Armfield at his house in Blackpool in the seventies and whether I remembered it. I certainly did and said I’d shared the photo I’d taken at the time of Andy, Carole, Linda and Jimmy with the Blackpool Gazette on his recent death.

The team today was Wiedwald, Cooper, Jansson, Berardi, Anita, Saiz, Alioski, Lasogga, O’Kane, Phillips and Dallas. Subs were Ekuban for Lasogga (73), Sacko for Dallas (83) and Vieira for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 1-0 with a goal from Cooper (31). Attendance was 28,428 with 539 Brentford fans.

The first 30 minutes saw Leeds on the receiving end of pressure for a lot of it. Our passing was poor whereas Brentford’s was very good with their players often in loads of space. By giving them the ball all the time it contributed to us not getting going in the right direction. The referee once again showed his true colours when he booked Anita for his first foul following this up by booking Alioski. Now admittedly Alioski went for a header and his arm was out but I’m positive there was very little contact, not that you could tell as their player fell down as if he’d been hit by a missile! As he got up very quickly after the booking I would say that the referee was conned. Unfortunately once the referee had shown his true colours by just talking to their player when he fouled us just after this, he didn’t get any better. We had Wiedwald to thank for keeping us in the game when he made a superb save to deny them the opening goal.

We eventually got a free kick on the left hand side of the pitch and I said that we needed to make the most of this. With a fantastic cross from Alioski’s free kick, Cooper headed the ball into the net to put Leeds into the lead. Possibly against the run of play but even though Brentford had lots of possession they hadn’t scored. I’d said once we got a goal it would take the pressure off us a bit and it did. We started to play with Saiz stepping up, showing how we’ve missed having him in the team working well with Alioski before Lasogga’s shot was saved by their goalie. It was nice going in at half time in the lead.

The second half saw the officials really rile the Leeds fans up by being the twelfth and thirteenth men for Brentford.  The linesman in front of the East Stand surpassed himself. After seemingly never up with play and always giving Brentford the benefit of the doubt with offside in the first half, he had no problems using his flag this half. His decision of one, inches into the opposition half was just baffling. Both he and the ref missed a blatant arm around Saiz that pulled him back and said play on. The worst was when Saiz passed the ball out to Lasogga who was bearing down on our goal with just their goalie in his sights when we realised instead of giving us advantage, he pulled us back for a free kick! It really does seem like their own personal feelings take over from their professional judgements because once again the officials are not treating both teams on a level playing field.

Prior to that chance we did put some lovely play together with Saiz, Alioski (he did a lot of running today) and Lasogga who was unlucky not to score. I hadn’t felt worried that Brentford would score as it looked like we had worn them down, but when they got a free kick just outside our penalty area in the last minutes, my stomach churned a little bit. There were gasps as Wiedwald made the save but probably more because he punched it out and we were able to close them down enough for the rebound shot to go over.

Back to winning ways for the first time with Heckingbottom but I’d also forgotten that it was our first win since Boxing Day. We can build on this and need to go to each game just getting as many points as we can. As I said last week, you never know and I will still stay positive. It was nice to bump into the Norwegian Whites on my way back to the car so got a customary photo.

At this moment of writing my blog I am hearing sad news that a Leeds fan was knocked down after the game after pushing a young child out of the way. Until this is clarified I am not going to speculate on what happened and how he is as there are different versions and I wouldn’t want to spread any wrong news. It does put things into perspective though.

Onto Middlesbrough on Friday night for another televised game. I will be going straight from work and I’m sure that will be so for a lot of our fans. With the snow forecast for this week, as long as it doesn’t affect our travel arrangements I will be happy as I really don’t like driving in it if I can.  See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together.

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017