My message to Leeds before the game was keep fighting and never give up. We got our just rewards by doing that.
Team: Meslier, Cooper, Ayling, Alioski, Harrison, Klich, Phillips, Bamford, Rodrigo, Raphinha and Dallas an unchanged team. Subs: Hernandez for Rodrigo (82), Roberts for Bamford (84) and Shackleton for Klich (89). Subs not used: Casilla, Davis coming in for Costa, Poveda, and Struijk. Leeds won the game 5-2 after going a goal down. Scorers: Bamford (35), Rodrigo (61), Dallas (82), Alioski (85) and Harrison (88). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Simon Hooper
Leeds were led out with another virtual mascot on an iPad, this time young Jude Hawkridge who is battling leukaemia. Hopefully, that and the win has given the young lad a boost, keep fighting.
The game kicked off with Leeds attacking the south stand. Newcastle had a cross that went just over the crossbar. We won a corner, but it didn’t go well and ended with Newcastle getting a free kick. When the ball hit a Newcastle hand in the penalty area, I wasn’t surprised to hear that it was a sensible ruling from the commentators. It always is when it is a handball in our favour and not against us! A shot from Rodrigo was hit wrong and went over the top. The pitch was cutting up very quickly especially after having lots of rain again. It didn’t get re-laid in the summer due to lack of time with COVID, but the groundsman does a great job under the circumstances.
I was starting to get frustrated very early on by the sloppy passing and then told myself to stop it as Leeds will grow into the game. Thought we were very unlucky with a great pass across the box which Klich just missed but the flag was up so it wouldn’t have counted. We’d had 74% possession at this point but need to make sure goals come from it. Good work from Alioski and Harrison saw Leeds win a corner. Leeds were very unlucky not to take the lead with a great header from Cooper which was saved by their keeper. When the linesman put his flag up for offside again, I realised we were going to have to watch our line as I told him to stick the flag where the sun don’t shine. A back pass to Meslier was too close for comfort as it was very close to their player too. We had another great move, but Harrison’s ball was put across the front of goal but not near enough our players as Leeds were starting to take charge of the game. Raphinha did some great work in the penalty area but then hit a wild shot wide. As a shot from Klich went over the bar but not by much, my shout was keep it down Leeds and let’s get a hatful please. Newcastle then intercepted the ball and looked dangerous with the resulting shot pushed out by Meslier and eventually to safety. As I was saying out loud that it was Important that they don’t get anything, they damn well scored with 26 minutes on the clock. Their cross saw a header across to the back post where their player got behind Alioski and slammed the ball into the net.
Harrison got smacked in the nose and mouth in the run up to their goal although I never saw what happened, but he had to change his shirt as he was bleeding. I said we were going to win now as the pressure was off us again, so we had no need to be scared of them. Raphinha was playing really well as the keeper saved a shot from him. He then sent a great cross to Rodrigo which came off the bar with the rebound headed into the net by Bamford to equalise. That was a vital goal to get us back on equal terms before half time. Klich was booked for a challenge as I was asking why it was a booking? Half time saw us going into the break on equal terms.
At the start of the second half Phillips was the next one to be booked for an innocuous challenge. A bad kick out from Meslier put our player into trouble as Newcastle attacked but Klich stopped it going out for a corner. A Leeds attack ended with a shot from Raphinha as replays were shown that our breakaway began after a strong challenge by Cooper in our area. The referee was happy with his decision not to give a penalty to Newcastle. Alioski’s cross was straight to their keeper after he went on a good run from Harrison’s cross. A good pass from Rodrigo saw some good work from Bamford in the area who turned and shot, but the ball lacked power and was easily saved by the keeper. I noticed Leeds were now hitting the ball with more conviction and power. A fantastic ball from Rodrigo was sent to Harrison on the left who did brilliantly to get the ball and he sent a great ball over for Rodrigo to head into the net on 61 minutes to put Leeds back into the lead.
Leeds continued to attack with a great header to Bamford and the keeper saved a low shot. From the resulting corner, which was terrible, Newcastle counter attacked which brought a brilliant tip over the crossbar by Meslier. Sadly, the corner saw their player rise above everyone to head the ball into the net with Meslier unsighted but still did his best to keep it out, having kept our lead for three minutes. As Newcastle threatened with another breakaway from a Leeds corner, Raphinha found himself in the book having stopped the attack.
Some good work from Bamford in the penalty area saw the ball just in front of our players as Newcastle cleared it. Another great attack from Leeds saw an excellent cross from Klich across the box to the far side where Dallas headed in for a third goal. Newcastle had just made their third sub and I hoped they were getting tired. With some of their players not training due to COVID reasons I had no idea if that had impacted on any who were playing today or not.
With Newcastle attacking once again, we saw some good back tracking from Bamford to win the ball back. As Hernandez was getting ready to come on, Bamford was fouled but play carried on. Rodrigo went off for Hernandez before Roberts came on for Bamford. A fantastic counterattack from Leeds after a great run from Raphinha, saw Alioski score to make it 4-2 to Leeds. Leeds players were queuing up to score which was great to see. Shortly afterwards we had another break away and as I was telling Harrison to pass, he sent a fantastic long range shot over the keeper for a fifth goal to make it 5-2 on the day. That’s it, game over! Shackleton replaced Klich for the final few minutes as Leeds saw the game out. Raphinha was man of the match for me but as it was, any number of players could have got that today.
That win will breed confidence and I’m glad they listened to my team talk before the game lol! Just what was needed before going across the Pennines to that team that play in that horrid colour red at the weekend. Just go out there and do us proud Leeds and keep fighting! LUFC – Marching on Together!