I’d not been worried at all about today’s game until a lad started talking to me about it at work. Suddenly, my stomach churning started but I decided that my out of sight, out of mind method works best! Just concentrate on Leeds United, it works wonders. Having been ill all week which I’ve blamed on going to Hull, it meant I haven’t posted as much this week. As we headed to Elland Road earlier than usual, it was because I’d won a couple of corporate tickets for the game. It was going to be a change to my usual routine of heading to the Peacock as my hubby accompanied me into the Pavilion. The place was packed out with more tables than usual and I know for some fans, it is the only way they can get a ticket now Elland Road is sold out every game. We enjoyed a three-course meal, drinks (we stuck with water and soft drinks) and saw Jermaine Beckford, Tony Dorigo, John Hendrie, Steve Hodge and Neil Aspin. The latter remembered coming to the Selby branch of the Supporter’s Club do when he won player of the year which he said must have been 1985. Ian and his daughter Lucy from Stafford had got the other pair of tickets in our group who also enjoyed the great hospitality that had been put on. The staff were very helpful and there was a good atmosphere in there. There were fans who had travelled from Bulgaria, Thailand, Australia and later I met a Danish Leeds fan to name a few, which shows once again the great worldwide fanbase we have.
Thank you for the support Tina, who had travelled from Scotland for the game, for buying my book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United. Also, thanks to those of you who spoke to me about following my blogs too. As we headed into the game things didn’t quite go to plan. I was swapping places with my daughter Michelle as she was joining my hubby in the corporate seats whilst I was going in the Kop as usual with my daughter Danielle and granddaughter Laura. As I waited for the girls, my hubby was queuing to get into the stand only to come back out of the turnstile. The damn ticket wouldn’t work, and it turns out that his wasn’t the only ticket with an issue today. As it was close to kick off, we got him in on the other ticket to make sure that one worked, and Michelle went to get a new one printed. We got in just before the teams came out.
The team: Meslier, Ayling, Cooper, Berardi, White, Dallas, Harrison, Costa, Bamford, Hernandez and Klich. Subs: Roberts for Bamford (79), Shackleton for Klich (83) and Alioski for Harrison (90). Referee: O. Langford. Attendance: 36,514 with 2,647 Town fans who’d sold out their allocation making this the highest of the season. Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals from Luke Ayling (3) and Bamford (51).
With Phillips out injured, Berardi came back into the defence again with White taking Phillip’s role. Leeds got off to a thunderous start taking the lead in the third minute. Harrison crossed a wonderful ball from the left to Ayling, who met it with a superb volley that hit the underside of the crossbar before hitting the back of the net as Elland Road erupted. What a start, that is just what we needed to set the tone of the game. I’d say that was a great celebration from Ayling for his daughter’s third birthday today. Things evened out for a while as Town had a good chance but Meslier managed to save the ball when he sat on it. They had a couple of corners and had lots of players trying to put Meslier off and it was nice to end up with the free kick for a foul with one of them.
Before the game when scores were being predicted, nearly everyone said we would concede one goal, whereas I insisted we had to give them nothing. Our breaking out of defence into attack nearly brought us a second goal but Costa’s chance went wide, as did another couple of chances by Harrison and White.
We’d gone into the break in the lead and I said we needed to start the second half the same as we did the first. Well I wasn’t far wrong. Although their keeper had to be on his toes to keep out both Harrison and Bamford, we increased our lead six minutes after the restart. Leeds won a free kick to the left of the box which Hernandez took. Their keeper made a fantastic save from White, but Bamford made no mistake when the ball came to him and he stuck it into the net to lift the roof off Elland Road. I was pleased to see Bamford get the just rewards for his hard work of recent weeks. During the game we were guilty of some bad passing at times from Berardi and Hernandez which resulted in Town getting the upper hand, but overall, we managed to deal with them quite well. When Harrison hit a fantastic shot from the left of us, it hit the angle of the crossbar and post to the right of us and Hernandez’s shot was then blocked. Wow, that move so deserved a goal. Elland Road was bouncing as the noise erupted around the ground into fever pitch as Leeds played some fantastic passing football. This was brought to a halt when a Town player went down before going off injured. That was a real shame because it took the sting out of the game. Although Town hadn’t given up, when one shot rebounded off Meslier, our defence were there backing him up and got the ball to safety. When the linesman to our left went off injured and the fourth official came on instead, we were hoping that he’d be better with the offside rule. Wrong! The first thing he did was put the flag up for offside to a chorus of boos from the Leeds fans. I hadn’t been unduly worried about them scoring but knew we’d be heading into a lot of injury time. With the goal, all the subs and the ref injury, I was expecting at least seven minutes added on, so it was a nice surprise to see only five minutes on the clock. When their player went down in the penalty area under a challenge in front of the South Stand, my heart sank as I expected the ref to point to the penalty spot. It was a relief when he gave a goal kick, and someone said their player was booked for diving. The ref had been very busy with his bookings today with three Leeds and three Town in total going into the book.
Another win and another three points which is all I ask for. Well done Leeds United as you’ve sent a fan base home very happy! Don’t worry about those other teams around us, concentrate on us and play to our strengths. We can do this just ‘Keep Fighting’ and never give up. See you for that early start to Cardiff on Sunday, 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 now: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited
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