On our way to Elland Road we heard that the game was now a sellout from a Leeds fan’s perspective with the only tickets available in the Rotherham area. After a quick trip to the White Rose we got to the ground at 1.15 pm the earliest for a long while, as I was meeting my sister Erica and also Simon was here from Cornwall. As Dani, Laura and I headed to the Peacock Erica and Paul her friend caught up with us at the traffic lights. It was nice to catch up with lots of fans in the Peacock and Beano who goes in the South Stand was trying to get a new song going about Bielsa and his bucket! As we headed into the ground Laura wanted to go via my Bremner stone but I was disgusted to see that someone had spilt their chips and tomato sauce over the steps to Billy’s statue. This is sacred ground to me and I couldn’t for the life of me understand why anyone would treat the area in any other way. It had been cleared away when we got there after the game although there were stains where the food had been.
The team today were: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Cooper, Phillips, Saiz, Alioski, Roofe, Hernandez, Douglas and Klich. Subs were: Baker for Saiz (80), Bamford for Roofe (86) and Jansson for Klich (90). Leeds won the game 2-0 with Luke Ayling scoring his first league goal (49) and Roofe getting the other (72). Attendance was 33,699 with 707 Rotherham fans.
The first 20 minutes saw Leeds have a couple of chances but with Rotherham shooting on sight, they were unlucky not to score first. With one bad pass from Cooper to Peacock Farrell, it looked odds on that Rotherham were going to score, but they had the ball whipped off their toes to deny them a goal. They also had a long range shot hit the post as they were taking the game to Leeds. At this time our players were a bit jittery seemingly to me because of the full house spurring them on. I felt they needed a goal to calm those nerves but we were playing out from the back and kept passing the ball back to Peacock-Farrell which was too close for comfort at times. Before half time we came close with a fantastic shot from Klich that just went at the wrong side of the upright and their goalie saved a great attempt by Berardi.
Laura and I met up with Carole, Ashley, Margaret and Keith behind the betting desk as usual. Carole was wearing her scarf from the seventies and I still love this piece of history and it makes me wish I hadn’t got rid of lots of my things. I did get the chance to buy one of my scarves back on eBay recently but someone won me to it at the last minute. I recognised it straight away because as well as the patches it had a familiar ladder at the front of it where I’d worn a pin badge.
Whatever Bielsa said to the team at half time it worked, as the team came out on fire for the second half. Within four minutes we had taken the lead when Douglas’s corner caused havoc in the Rotherham goalmouth. With Cooper’s header saved by the goalie, Roofe passed the rebound back across and Ayling’s header crossed the line despite the Rotherham player’s attempt to clear it. As Ayling wasn’t sure whether to celebrate, he looked to the referee and as the goal was given he ran exuberantly to the East Stand. As this was his first league goal I’m not surprised. This goal took the heat off the team and some of the passing in this half was out of this world. With Saiz jinking past players as if the ball was attached to his feet by a rope, our attacking just got better and better and he was unlucky not to score when his effort was headed off the line. Coming out from defence into attack saw Roofe get a second goal for us; Phillips sent a pin point pass over the defence for Roofe to run on to along the front of the West Stand. Roofe beat their man at the edge of the box and then from a narrow angle put the ball into the net to send the Leeds fans into fantastic celebrations. When Super Leeds and Marching on Together were sung in the Kop and most of the ground this was spine tingling and it felt a very special moment. Hearing Super Leeds ringing out from the stands like it did, this felt like a momentous occasion as I can’t remember it sung like this for a long, long time. Apart from Peacock-Farrell making a great save in the last few minutes, we were able to see the game out comfortably in our favour.
I think out fitness levels overcame Rotherham today as well as having a positive mental attitude and fighting for every ball. There were mistakes made, especially in the first half but in the past, we would have lost these challenges and the mistakes would have been costly. By chasing down everything, this enabled us to get on top of the game. Bielsa’s impact on this cannot be underestimated either. The fact that Bielsa is the first Leeds United manager (I don’t do coaches sorry!) to have won his first four games in charge is another milestone. Listening to his interview on BBC Radio Leeds on the way home makes me like him even more. It is not about him but the team and he looks at what isn’t working and tries to rectify it. He is a man of my heart because he has got the team fighting for everything and never giving up, which is something I always wanted to see my team do. Let’s enjoy the moment Leeds fans because it is about time our long suffering support has something positive and exciting to watch on the field.
Tuesday sees us head to Swansea for the first of two away games in a row with a 9.30 am departure from Leeds before we head to Norwich on Saturday. I’m looking forward to enjoying two away games with our fans but also looking forward to seeing what we produce on the pitch. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!