Leeds United v Sunderland 7th April 2018 at Elland Road

After I took a photo of the plaque at Elland Road on Tuesday remembering Chris and Kev our two fans who were murdered in Turkey, I mentioned on the WACCOE forum that it was hard to read and whether there was anything we as fans could do to remedy this. I’m very pleased to say that my message was picked up by the Leeds United Trust and along with the Don Revie plaques in the Kop; these have now been polished and upgraded by them. Leeds fans looking after Leeds fans is what we do so a big well done from me. It is the least we can do to commemorate their murders and ensure we never forget them. RIP to both lads and thoughts with their families and friends at this tough time of the year.

With nothing left to play for this season we still were expecting a crowd of around 30,000 including a sizeable contingent from Norway of approximately 150 Leeds fans. I was meeting up with some fans before the game but despite my best efforts of getting to Leeds early I found I was later than expected and rushing about. With an excited granddaughter who will be celebrating her 8th birthday tomorrow and my daughter Dani we left the car park only for my bag zip to break and scatter the contents along the floor which made me even later. Luckily by the time we arrived at the Peacock the first person I saw was the person I’d been asked to take tickets for. I then had a chat with a couple of our Irish fans and a big thank you Ken and Jack for buying my book Follow Me and Leeds United and Nick for buying Once a Leeds fan, always a Leeds fan. One of our Trust members I wished to thank for the plaque renovations was a little shy as he hid behind others when I took a photo! As we headed into the ground the rain had stopped so I was able to take photos of the flowers left for Chris and Kev.

The team today was Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Paudie O’Connor making his debut at centre back, Jansson, Dallas, Hernandez, Saiz, Alioski, Phillips, Vieira and Lasogga. Subs were Roofe for Phillips (64), Ekuban for Lasogga (68) and Anita for Saiz (90). Berardi was sent off in the 90th minute with a straight red after a bad tackle. We drew 1-1 with Hernandez getting the Leeds equalising goal (72). Attendance was 30,461 with approximately 2,300 Sunderland fans.

With Sunderland propping up the table and looking like having two consecutive relegations, I’d no idea what to expect from the game. We actually started off well and came close a few times but not close enough to make them count by scoring. We had most of the possession for a good while into the first half and it was nearly a case of de ja vue when Sunderland had an attack and came very close to scoring. Luckily for once it went our way as we were able to keep the ball out. As the half went on things quietened on the terraces and we were going through the motions without any urgency. Once again we were playing with a lone striker up front when we were at home, why?  I don’t think the system suited our players because the longer the half went on, the more it looked wrong. We had Dallas still at right back but had brought young Paudie O’Connor in at centre back who played well. We had some miss hit shots and gave the ball away too much and I couldn’t wait for the half to end.

As I went back up into the Kop at the start of the second half I found that I felt like a lead weight and had to literally drag myself back up to my seat. I thought at first it was because I wasn’t looking forward to the second half but I still felt that way at the end of the game. This seemed so when Sunderland put the ball into our net to take the lead within three minutes of the start. Sunderland were looking better than their place in the table showed but I think we were contributing to that especially when they came close to getting a second. I felt that once we changed our system when Roofe came on we looked a different team. To say we have changed manager, Heckingbottom was still standing there with his arms crossed not getting involved and our tactics have remained the same. Why? As fans keep complaining about interference my thoughts are that we have a set piece coach and others so the team does the same thing regardless of it working or not. I found I was deflated and demoralised for a while in the second half because I couldn’t see a way forward. When we changed the tactics it didn’t take long before we were able to get an equaliser when Hernandez got the ball in the penalty area and was able to score. We were very unlucky not to take the lead when Saiz brought out a great save from their goalie and hit the post with another shot. Sunderland hadn’t given up either and we had Peacock-Farrell to thank again for another point blank save to deny them taking the lead. We lost Berardi to a straight red card right on 90 minutes so instead of trying to win the game we saw it out with 10 men once again. That was so frustrating and to be honest it felt like we’d lost again although for once we’d got another point.

The thing is there were flashes of what we could do as a team but we weren’t consistent enough. In the first half we have to make our chances count and play from the off for the whole game not just a few minutes here and there. I think that’s why I was quite frustrated today because it didn’t look like things were going to change in the long term and this was what we had to look forward to next year!

We have a further two away games next week with our visit to Preston on Tuesday and away at Villa on Friday. In my opinion I’d knock the lone striker on the head as I hate it as it doesn’t work. As we have to change the team around again with Berardi’s suspension, I have no idea who we have left to bring in though so will have to wait and see what happens at Deepdale. See you then – LUFC – Marching on Together!

Saiz’s free kick hits the post

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

OUT NOW! The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-2017