Honours timeline South Stand
Harrogate Whites LUSC & The Centenary White
At long last, Leeds fans got their wish to return to Elland Road with a capacity crowd. It was fantastic to be back and also an emotional time for many, as excited fans made their early starts to get to the ground. I was on my way from Halifax by 10.00am as I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. The first Leeds fan I saw was someone who I had taken a photo of at Glenavon many moons ago. It was good talking to many fans today and there were some great conversations to be had as we shared memories of supporting Leeds United, until the heavens opened which put a stop to some of those in the Peacock Garden. Getting into the ground early though was the plan for many of us and the atmosphere was buzzing. Flags had been put out for the fans on our seats, so this contributed to the crescendo of noise as the teams came out. It was also very emotional seeing the fans and legends on the big screen who had lost their lives throughout the pandemic. I’d already found the tears easy to come this morning when Steve a Bournemouth White, had shared some photos of Steve Denney who died last summer. Rest in Peace lads and lasses.
Last night saw a fantastic evening courtesy of the Harrogate Whites LUSC and The Centenary Whites, raising money for Alzheimer’s disease with a Stan Bowles calendar. It was great being back with a bunch of Leeds fans singing along to songs and I’m looking forward to a repeat of this at the Irish Centre later this year.
Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Dallas, Phillips (recalled to the side), Raphinha, Klich, Harrison, Firpo (making his first Premier League start), Bamford and Struijk.
Subs: Roberts for Klich (60), Shackleton for Firpo (60).
Subs not used: Klaesson, Rodrigo, Forshaw, Costa, Summerville, Drameh, Cresswell.
Leeds drew 2-2 with Klich (41) and Raphinha (72) scoring the Leeds goals.
Attendance: 36,293 with 2,843 Everton fans.
Booked: Cooper, Bamford.
Referee: Darren England.
Everton started on the attack with a long range shot that went past the outside of the post. The game was quite even, but Leeds were able to deal with the few Everton threats towards the Kop as they attacked the South Stand. Bamford had a shot blocked and Ayling had a shot that went behind for a corner. From the corner Phillips came close, when he took a shot from the edge of the box which took a deflection that wasn’t far away from opening the scoring. Against the run of play an Everton man went down in the penalty area under a tame challenge and was moaning like anything. With Klich down injured and getting treatment, suddenly, the referee under pressure from the Everton players, decided he was going to look at VAR after all. Klich had been receiving treatment for a couple of minutes before this happened, so it wasn’t straight after the challenge. After taking an age to study the tv screen, the referee decided to award Everton a penalty. Surprise, surprise, whenever it is in our favour, it takes a quick look and nothing is awarded our way, but they always take a long time when the judgement results in an award for the opposition. Meslier guessed right but sadly was not able to keep the ball out as Everton took the lead at around the 30-minute mark. Leeds were not going to give up with out a fight though, as Raphinha came close with a shot that went wide. Bamford ended up booked but all that did was make him step up a gear. Some great persistent play on the right-hand side saw him pass a great ball to Klich in the middle of the pitch in loads of space to hit the ball into the net to equalise just before half time. When six minutes of injury time was put up, the referee must have counted the long time he looked at the TV screen because there wasn’t that much time to add on in my opinion. Our equaliser had come at the right time.
It didn’t take Everton long to go back into the lead at the start of the second half as the ball kept running in their favour. That gave them the incentive and they had another chance shortly afterwards. Meslier made a great save soon afterwards to keep them out. Leeds started to put more pressure on Everton as they won a few corners and from one, Raphinha sent a fantastic shot into the goal to equalise on the day for the second time. Instead of celebrating though, the players were straight back to the centre of the pitch to get on with the game. They were looking to win the game, not accept a draw at that stage. A couple of headers from first Cooper, then Struijk came close, before Meslier was called into action again to save a shot from Everton. Leeds battled until the end and there were shouts for a penalty to Leeds for a foul and also a hand ball. Sadly, the referee didn’t check with VAR as he blew his whistle for the end of the game.
Leeds showed character to come back twice from a goal down today and give us our first point of the season. There is a long way to go, and we looked a lot sharper today although some passes still went astray. I’ve no idea who had the bright idea to keep one of the gates shut when we were trying to get out of the ground, but that had the potential for causing a crushing incident. Onto the Carabao Cup game against Crewe on Tuesday. Well done lads and keep on fighting. LUFC – Marching on Together!