With another lockdown looming this week, getting back to football games seems a long way away. Having gone past the ground today, knowing it was a match day and I couldn’t go to the game tonight hit hard. I’m missing Elland Road and my friends so much.
A minute’s silence started for Nobby Stiles who was the brother-in-law of Johnny Giles and his son John Stiles played for Leeds. He was part of the squad alongside Jack Charlton who won the World Cup with England in 1966. He was also another player who had dementia, which made me think of those hard medicine balls that footballers in that era used to play with. As this was also the nearest day to Armistice Day, the last post was played in remembrance of all those who died whilst serving their country and to pay our respects. It was lovely seeing the remembrance flag in the East Stand too.
The team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Koch, Hernandez, Costa, Klich, Harrison, Bamford, Dallas and Shackleton. Subs: Poveda for Shackleton (45), Roberts for Hernandez (67) and Alioski for Dallas (81). Subs not used: Casilla, Struijk, Casey and Davis. Referee: Andre Marriner. Leeds lost the game 1-4 with Dallas scoring the Leeds goal (48). Attendance: Zero, behind closed doors.
With Rodrigo pulling out of the team due to COVID reasons, it meant Leeds had to reshuffle the team, although Cooper was back after injury. Leeds came close after Costa crossed for Harrison at the far post, who headed back to Bamford in the middle only for his header to go straight to the keeper. Leicester immediately counter attacked as their keeper threw the ball out. With Leeds under pressure, Koch sent a back pass which went straight to Vardy who passed back to his player to put the ball into the net, to see Leeds a goal down after two minutes. That was a bad goal to concede especially so early on, giving us an uphill battle. Leeds came very close to conceding a second goal shortly after. Meslier then made a great save to keep out another chance after Dallas looked to be fouled on the far touchline but the referee played on. Dallas was limping for a short while afterwards. Leeds put pressure on Leicester with a great run by Costa on the right, who passed the ball into the middle but Bamford’s shot under pressure went wide. With heavy conditions due to the rain, Leeds were guilty of some bad passing and were putting pressure on ourselves. Bielsa changed the formation to put an extra man in defence but Leicester were dictating the play. Meslier made another great save from Vardy with Koch beaten but the rebound was put into the net to give Leicester a second goal. This feels like a game which was crying out for the Leeds fans to be a twelfth man. As our players kept slipping on the heavy pitch, maybe we needed a change of football boots at half time! When one of the Leicester players was sandwiched between Costa and another, I was expecting the free kick to be given but the referee played on. When Leeds got on what looked to be a good attack with Shackleton through, the whistle blew for offside, as the rebound came to Costa. It’s not the end of the world Leeds, keep fighting was my cry. At this moment though, we do look like the newcomers to the division as Leicester are looking a very accomplished side. Klich cleared the ball as far as Costa who then lost the ball and Meslier saved the shot from Leicester. Leeds came so close to getting a goal back when Ayling’s pass to Bamford beat the defence, but he couldn’t get a first shot in and the keeper smothered the ball. Harrison’s cross saw their player put the ball out for a corner, but we wasted it. We had started to get into more attacking positions just before half time but without getting a shot on goal. Leicester broke away but Leeds won the ball back luckily to prevent another attack. We won another corner which Leicester cleared with ease from Hernandez. Leeds won a free kick when Costa was brought down near the byline just before the break, but we went in two goals down.
Poveda came on for Shackleton at the start of the half as Leeds looked to get back into the game. We won an early corner but this time it was Klich and Harrison who took a short corner. I’m not normally a lover of short corners but we had to do something different, and Dallas’s shot went over everyone straight into the net to pull a goal back at the Kop end. Leeds came so close to getting a second one after another short corner, only for Hernandez’s shot to come back off the top right corner of the goal. Leeds had a long range shot on target from Klich that was saved by their keeper. Leicester then made a sub to change things as Leeds had been on top for most of the second half. Not long after, Roberts came on for Hernandez and the latter was very disappointed to be subbed. Bamford was through on goal but with their keeper bearing down on him near the edge of the penalty area, he pulled out of the challenge. When Ayling looked to be brought down in the area I thought it was a penalty straight away, but the referee said no. Replays showed he had made the right decision. A breakaway goal then by Vardy for Leicester after Roberts lost possession, meant we had an even more uphill battle now with the score at 1-3. Alioski came on for Dallas as Bielsa tried changing things again. Leeds won another corner but the corner from Harrison was cleared easily by the defence. With Vardy through again, we had Meslier to thank for making the save to keep him out. Poveda was brought down just as Vardy was taken off and another defender brought on as Leicester looked to keep the lead. VAR made the decision three minutes after a challenge to bring the game back to be looked at again. After the referee checked, he decided it was a penalty after all as their player was brought down on the edge of the box by Klich. As the ball wasn’t even in the area, how could that be a penalty? There again, I thought to myself, with not being to a live game since March, had I forgotten the rules for a penalty in that their player was on the line? Personally, I know I am biased, but I couldn’t agree with the penalty decision, but we were now 1-4 down and it was game over. Despite losing by the margin we did; it could have been a different game if Hernandez’s shot had gone into the net. We will have our ups and downs this season, just like last, but we just need to keep fighting and never give up, getting as many points as we can along the way.
Take care everyone and if you feel that things are getting so bad for you, please reach out to the other Leeds fans in our lives to help you through it. LUFC – Marching on Together.