Today saw the first of two homes games in a week. With Preston having beaten us in the Carabao Cup, I said that we wouldn’t make the same mistake again but it wouldn’t be easy. As I was meeting Vicky in the Peacock who had bought my new book Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18 for her dad as a birthday present, I wanted to get there early. I left my other half in the car whilst I headed there and Terje from Norway shouted hello to me so I had to start with my photo taking. After a good chat with Ella and her dad we went to queue for a drink but it was heaving at the bars. I couldn’t believe that the extra beer huts in the Peacock garden were shut tonight as they’d been open for the cup game recently. I‘d lost Ella by then, so stood talking to Karl and a lad from Halifax and stayed there as they waited to be served. The Peacock had missed a trick tonight as it took ages for the queues to go down. My daughter Dani and I headed into the ground as I wanted to be in place for the team coming out.
The team: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Harrison, Roberts, Alioski, Saiz, Klich, Douglas and Phillips. Subs were: Dallas for Roberts (86), Forshaw for Klich (88) and Baker for Saiz (90). Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Cooper (37) and Roberts (74 and 82). Attendance was 27,729 with 306 Preston fans. (I knew there weren’t many of them but that’s a very poor turn out in comparison to the cup game. No doubt they’ll cite it was cheaper for that one!)
The opening spell saw Preston taking the game to Leeds as they tried to build on their recent win with Peacock-Farrell making a couple of saves early on. As long as they weren’t handed any early penalties I thought we would be okay. We had a couple of great chances then which ended up with one kicked off the line and although we had another great chance, the finishing was poor. Jansson had stepped up a gear tonight and it looked like having played the whole game against Millwall had done him good. Although I thought he’d hesitated with his first pass up the field, he grew into the game and he got in on the act with some great footwork as the team fought and backed each other up. As Alioski went through on goal towards the South Stand, he was goal ward bound when the linesman in front of the West Stand saw a lone player there and stuck his flag up late, just as Alioski sent a great ball into the bottom of the net. When fans keep complaining about him being offside, I think they need to take into account the amount of times the linesmen haven’t a clue. Alioski was running all over the pitch and some of the balls he got to, he didn’t have a right to get to them. One of them being when he raced over to the West Stand side and got the ball right on the line before playing a great pass to one of our players. We took the lead eight minutes before the break after the corner played in by Douglas was met by Cooper’s diving header. Prior to the goal, Preston were once again time wasting and we had plenty of fouls not given our way which should have been. The linesman at the East Stand missed most things and it was unbelievable that he didn’t see a bad shirt pull on Cooper that happened right in front of him. It looked like someone said something in his ear every time he ignored it! Once we’d scored the goal though the time wasting disappeared for some reason. When Alioski chased after their player from the South Stand to the half way line, he more or less got the ball but as their player went down like a ton of bricks, the ref booked Alioski. I don’t think it was a booking though, yes a foul for a free kick but he let so much more go from Preston. We were unlucky not to get a second goal to go into the break.
After finding Dean to hand over the books he and Skippa bought from me at Millwall, I headed back to my seat for the second half. We had an early chance when Jansson’s header looked to be heading into the goal only to be deflected wide. It looked like Preston came out with renewed vigour then especially as they were more bothered about scoring now. They did in fact get the ball into the net for an equaliser or so I thought, until the cheers from the Leeds fans when the linesman put his flag up for offside saw it disallowed thank goodness. As the game continued I was surprised to see that Bielsa wasn’t looking to make any changes to the team. He kept crouching down in different parts of the technical area. I said to Dani that it looked like he wanted to give those playing a run out, which then saw them all step up a gear. Some of the passing and movements were out of this world and one of the attacks was outstanding. What we saw tonight was some absolutely fantastic football and it didn’t end there. After Harrison (we saw how the run had helped him with some great footwork) hit the post after some immense work from Saiz, we got a second goal. Phillips put a perfect pass over for Roberts to run onto and lob the ball over the keeper. Some great celebrations followed then and despite what Millwall’s manager said, they weren’t reserved just for them! To cap it all we got a third, again after some great play from Saiz, who played the ball out to Klich whose pinpoint pass saw a cool Roberts head the ball into the net. That was it game over and to see the football we have witnessed tonight was absolutely fantastic. The team went off to a standing ovation and it was well deserved. When my hubby said that it reminded him of Wilkinson tonight, I said no, Bielsa reminds me of Don Revie. If he can emulate what he and the team achieved then we are in for some great times. I like Bielsa and what he and his coaching staff have done so far with the team. He doesn’t slag anyone off, just gets on with it and I look forward to Saturday when we meet Mr Monk and Birmingham. See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!
Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years
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
The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18