Apologies for the delay for those of you who are waiting to read my blog. Despite having a weekend free with this re-arranged game due to Millwall being involved in the the 4th round of the FA Cup, Leeds United’s social media channels have seen our fans going into over-drive. If it wasn’t TOMA (take over my arse), it was transfers or lack of them according to some. With the talk of investment coming into the club from QSI, this coincided with incoming transfers of Elia Caprile a goalkeeper from Italian club Chievo Verona and 19-year-old Ian Poveda a winger from Manchester City both on permanent deals. The message boards went into overdrive with the incoming of Jean-Kevin Augustin whose loan deal with Monaco from RB Leipzig was cut short so he could be loaned to Leeds for the rest of the season. I thought we would have a feel-good factor around Elland Road due to these signings and was looking forward to the game.
As I’d been at a meeting in Castleford all day, my daughter Dani was picking up my granddaughter Hannah, so I got to the ground for 6.00pm. I decided to go into the club shop for a new lanyard which turned out to be a very expensive trip courtesy of early Easter presents for two of my granddaughters Hannah and Alexis. Whilst in the shop I was pleased to see that my new book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United had arrived in stock and signed those on display for them. I went to the Peacock and was introduced to George who had gone to extraordinary lengths to get to Elland Road for the recent Boro game. He was coaching in America and had to take a four-hour train journey to New York then walk to a Penn station. From there he travelled by train to Newark airport to get a plane to Iceland and another one to Manchester. When he arrived there, he found out his train to Leeds was cancelled so he got the bus to Elland Road where he eventually met up with his dad in the Peacock. It was all worth it though when Leeds won the game 4-0, but it just shows what Leeds fans do to support their team. I then met my niece Sonya and headed into the ground in time for kick-off.
The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, White, Hernandez, Bamford, Dallas, Costa, Alioski, Harrison, and Klich. Sub: Shackleton for Hernandez (90+4). Referee: D. England. Leeds won the game 3-2 with goals from Bamford (48 and 66) and Hernandez (62) after going two goals down. Attendance was 34,006 with 471 Millwall fans.
Millwall started on the attack and put us under pressure in the opening moments of the game. They won an early corner and the referee decided to have words with Alioski and a Millwall player. As Alioski chased their player around Casilla, the ball was sent over their heads to another one at the far post with no one marking him, who headed the ball into the net in the fourth minute. Damn that was just what we didn’t need, and bottles rained down on Millwall as they celebrated in front of the Leeds fans. As Leeds started to attack, we had a couple of players brought down which despite looking bad tackles, were waved play on by the referee. Lo and behold when one of the Millwall players were brought down with a tame tackle, the referee immediately blew for a free kick to Millwall. With both Alioski and Klich going close and Bamford having a shot saved by their keeper as we tried to get an equaliser, the referee surpassed himself well and truly. With Leeds fans in the South Stand shouting for a corner, I couldn’t comment as I didn’t see the resulting shot. When the replay was shown on the scoreboard, the whole ground was in uproar as Dallas’s great shot was saved by their keeper, but instead of a corner, the referee gave a goal kick! That was when I realised once again that we were playing the officials and their absolute biased approach is a disgrace to the profession. Even the linesmen got in on the act by not flagging for the ball going out and as Millwall played on they won a penalty. When I saw Klich walking over to the bench I thought he’d been sent off at first, but he’d gone for a drink. I was convinced it wasn’t a penalty as their player fell over in the area and have heard conflicting reports both for and against it being awarded in the first place. Cooper had a header saved by their keeper and as half time approached, the terraces quietened down. There was a round of applause on the 36th minute for Leeds fan Danny Rahnavard who had recently died suddenly, and his son Olly was going to be in his dad’s seat for the game. This was to celebrate his life but also to show his son that Leeds United are a family. I said we needed a goal on either side of half time to get back into the game but went into the break 2-0 down. I didn’t think they were two goals better than us though despite the score.
There was plenty of talk about the dismal performance of the referee especially as the officials don’t hide their dereliction of duty anymore. Having seen Leeds suffer with bad decisions by the officials more times than I care to remember over the years, it really feels like they have an agenda to keep us down in this league as we are the cash cow for the division. A couple of lads I know said they had a 3-2 bet on for Leeds to win and I said I’d go for that.
Leeds had come out early for the second half and immediately were on the attack as the whistle blew. I didn’t get the prediction of a late goal in the first half right but the one straight after half time happened. With a corner sent over to the middle by Hernandez, their keeper saved from Harrison, but Bamford was on hand to put the rebound into the net to pull a goal back. Leeds continued to attack with intense pressure and played some lovely football. Costa who had been quiet in the first half put on a good show with some great attacking and Klich was also very impressive as Leeds fought to get an equaliser. Their keeper was forced into action to save from Bamford, Hernandez and Harrison to keep us out. Alioski came close to an equaliser before Millwall had another attack. Leeds were on fire with waves of attacking and when Hernandez’s shot hit the back of the net to equalise, Elland Road erupted. Game on now as we went for the winner which came four minutes later when Bamford got his second goal of the game by heading the ball into the net to send everyone wild! Elland Road was bouncing, and the noise was out of this world as well as the euphoria of coming back from two goals down to lead. Casilla had to be alert to keep Millwall out, but I was adamant they were not going to score. When they won a corner, Millwall took ages before they took it but not before one of their players complained to the referee and handed something to him. I took it that someone had thrown something at him whilst waiting to take the corner. We can’t give the EFL any further ammunition to have a go at us so please think before you throw things on the pitch. Leeds had a great chance to put the game to bed when Klich received the ball on the edge of the box in acres of space, but sank to his knees as he blasted the ball over. That was such a shame as he deserved a goal today. As the whistle blew to end the game, the Leeds fans cheered and gave the team a standing ovation as they went around and off the pitch. We also returned to the top of the league with other results going our way and with this important win!
After the game we met my sister Erica and her boyfriend Martin at Billy’s statue and at least he got his birthday present of a win. Although my hands were cold, my heart was on fire with love for Leeds United before we headed home very happy. See you on Saturday for the Wigan game, 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