What can I say but a big thank you to all those Leeds fans who have stood up to be counted and given me fantastic support for sharing my blogs. After receiving some abuse from someone about the fact my blog showed up in approx. 10 different Facebook groups, the reaction I have had from other Leeds fans has been totally overwhelming.
After posting the following when sharing the blog the response has been phenomenal.
“As always I post my blog and photos for those fans who want to read them. If it isn’t for you then please ignore them but please do not resort to abuse as I received earlier tonight. I’m pleased to report that this has now been deleted by one of the groups I post in. I understand that some fans are in many groups the same as me so receive the same post many times. If anyone has any ideas how to manage my posts better I am happy to discuss these further because it does take a lot of time and effort to do this. If you do not want me to share in your group then please let me know. As I want to get the photos out to as many fans as possible and we do have a fantastic worldwide fan base, how do I do this if I don’t share it? I am happy for Leeds fans to share this themselves if that is easier but look forward to hearing your views. The rest of the blog and photos are on my website link below. http://www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk/norwich-v-leeds-united-25th-august-2018-at-carrow-road”
My response to everyone for their support was “Due to an overwhelming response of gratitude for what I do, please note I will still be sharing my blog in all the Leeds United groups that I am in. If it isn’t for you, then please ignore and scroll past. Thank you! Marching on Together!” Leeds fans are one in a million that’s for sure.
As we headed to Elland Road, there would be a lot of changes to the team today but for once I wasn’t worried about square pegs in round holes. As Bielsa is getting everyone to play the same way, this means that anyone stepping into the team should be able to play wherever he puts them. We arrived an hour before kick-off and went to the Peacock to meet friends before going into the ground. As we walked out of the Peacock it was nice to meet someone off the new forum I was asked to post in www.not606.com. I didn’t realise how close it had got to kick off once we were through the queues at the turnstiles so missed the teams coming out.
The team were: Blackman, Phillips, Jansson, Shaughnessy, Harrison, Dallas, Baker, Roberts, Shackleton, Pearce and Bamford. Subs were: Klich for Shaughnessy (45), Saiz for Shackleton (45) and Alioski for Roberts (60). Leeds lost the game 2-0 their first defeat of the season under Bielsa’s management. Attendance was 18,652 with approx. 1,000 Preston fans.
I was still down at the steps leading to the upper part of the Kop as the game kicked off. I was just ready to go to my seat when a Preston player went down like a sack of spuds in the penalty area and the ref pointed to the spot with 43 seconds on the clock. I will have to see this again as it looked like a dive to me and I felt he’d conned the ref. Unfortunately Blackman was unable to save the penalty going the wrong way which for once I predicted correctly. An uphill battle beckoned. Straight away Preston started with time wasting tactics and I said the ref wouldn’t book anyone until the last few minutes and I was right about that. A terrible referee who let Preston walk all over him, especially with letting the time wasting go unpunished. With new players in the team, it took a while for them to start playing football but once we did, their goalie saved a great shot on target from Shackleton. With 30 minutes gone Preston were reduced to 10 men after their player was sent off which he deserved, for a two footed tackle on Baker. We had a great chance to equalise but Jansson’s header was cleared off the line. Bamford was unlucky not to score with two great chances but their goalie was leading a charmed life and made another fantastic save to deny him. One move was out of this world which their goalie saved. Just before half time and despite all the Leeds pressure, their player beat off challenges to run from near the half way line to score Preston’s second goal. That was a vital goal for them and made it even harder for us.
At half time when I was talking to my friend Margaret, we both agreed that we thought we were playing Norwich again due to the kit Preston were wearing. Unfortunately the score at half time was different to Saturday. I wasn’t too downbeat at this time because we were attacking, had shots on target and had been unlucky not to get back into the game.
The second half saw a double substitution with Klich on for Shaughnessy and Saiz for Shackleton. The subs made an instant impact as Saiz made some great runs and once again Bamford came close to scoring. As the game went on Roberts tried to do a flick with the ball which didn’t work as he expected. I said straight away that he would be subbed and he was more or less straight after this with Alioski coming on to replace him. I didn’t think he’d had a good game either. The longer the game went on, you just knew we weren’t going to get anything out of it which was impacted by the play acting and time wasting from Preston. That said, Preston didn’t sit back and defend once they had their player sent off and if a neutral fan was watching, I think they’d have been pleased to see an end to end game. From a Leeds perspective though, it turned out to be our first defeat of the season. I also thought that Bamford looked very lightweight in attack near the end of the game. Whether his fitness wasn’t up to scratch I don’t know but watching him closely as Leeds were attacking the Kop end, I found out that I wasn’t impressed with what I was seeing. Despite losing the game there were plenty of positives to be had. Bielsa had kept Phillips in the spine of the team and with the strongest bench I’ve seen Leeds have for a long time, I felt he was talking the game seriously. We did lots of attacking with shots on target and a goalie playing out of his skin. Maybe if he’d have been booked early in the first half for all the time wasting he was doing, it may have impacted on his game. Pearce was limping for a lot of the second half with a muscle injury by the look of it. We’d no subs left but credit to him for carrying on and without making a fuss about it.
I know many Leeds fans aren’t interested in the cup games anymore and feel the league is more important. That is something I don’t agree with as winning breeds winning. I didn’t feel the same way tonight as I did after the defeats against Sutton and Newport, because we had been trying and did put some great attacks in where we were unlucky not to score. Back at Elland Road on Friday for our game against Middlesbrough being an important game for us in the top of the table clash, I am happy that Peacock-Farrell will be back in goal. Whilst nothing against Blackman, he seemed to hesitate when getting the ball out from the back and I think that was picked up by Bielsa at the end of the game. For once I didn’t feel too disappointed about the defeat and as we play Preston again in September at Elland Road that will be the game where the points matter. See you Friday, 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