I couldn’t believe a couple of the stories coming out of Charlton last Saturday. On hearing the stewards saying they didn’t know they had to deal with a guide dog (Rita) on the terraces and asking if she would wee there, was a good one. As Rita is a well-known Leeds fan along with her owner Nikki who have gone all over the country, it makes me wonder where on earth they get these people from and where is any common sense? The same stewards at the end refused to let Rita and Nikki who is visually impaired, go out of the stand at the front to avoid the crowds. After a lot of arguments they eventually relented but meant they got caught up in the crowds going back to the station. The good thing was they were looked after by both Leeds and Charlton fans so well done to them. Another thing was hearing Leeds fans behind my daughter started scrapping in the 80th minute. For what reason I have no idea and although everything calmed down they were taken out of the stand. I know we were losing and never looked like scoring but we shouldn’t be fighting amongst ourselves. Although it was sad one of our fans who had a car crash on the way to the game didn’t make it and another one missed his flight, maybe us losing helped to ease the blow a little.
It was still raining as we set off for Elland Road and it looked like another miserable night was ahead of us. Luckily by the time we got to the ground after getting stuck in traffic it had eased off. Because we were late it meant no trip to the Peacock tonight as I had to meet David who had kindly sorted our Preston parking out for us. After a quick visit to Billy’s statue to meet up with my sister Erica and friends for a chat and to take some photos (I was on the receiving end of some tonight too), I headed into the ground. I decided not to go and stand at the steps straight away especially as I got in early so went to the front of the Kop. After chatting to Zoe (one of my co-fans from Take Us Home) and her family I stood with some more fans I knew until the team came out.
The team: Casilla, Cooper, Dallas, White, Alioski, Klich, Bamford, Costa, Harrison, Shackleton and Phillips. Subs: Berardi for Cooper (went off injured 34), Roberts for Shackleton (45) and Ayling for Roberts (74). Leeds won the game 1-0 with Alioski scoring the Leeds goal (38). Attendance was 34,648 with 981 WBA fans.
The game started off at a fast pace and Leeds came close to scoring in the first few minutes with Klich’s shot ending up at the wrong side of the post. WBA kept getting stuck in to Leeds and a few tackles had the Leeds crowd howling at the referee when he played on. WBA then started to go down at every challenge and for a while the ref was giving them everything but Leeds kept on battling. I’d said earlier that as we were playing a top of the table side, that we’d be okay and normally after a loss like at Charlton, Bielsa doesn’t make many changes and gives the players a chance to put things right. The Leeds team were definitely playing better and as a team even though they were up against a physical team. After Alioski got booked for a late challenge it was the turn for WBA to start getting bookings as the only way they were going to stop us was by fouls. There was a shout for handball in front of the South Stand and everyone was going mad when the ref said play on. With that WBA counter attacked us and I was shouting at Leeds to get back as it reminded me of a goal WBA scored at The Hawthorns last season. This time though they didn’t gain an advantage as Casilla made the save. Cooper had taken an earlier heavy challenge from behind but eventually was forced to go off after half an hour when he started limping. With that Berardi came on to replace him meaning we’d lost some of the little height we had at the back. Berardi soon showed he was up for the game though as he battled to keep WBA out and this also eased any fears. Within a few minutes Leeds took the lead as the chance looked to have been missed with ball crossing the penalty area. The ball eventually came back to Harrison who passed the ball for Alioski to hit into the bottom corner to send the Leeds fans wild. WBA immediately came back on the attack and as they broke into the penalty area were denied once again by Casilla. Leeds were unlucky not to double their lead just before the break as their keeper made a double save from Bamford then Costa. It had been a good half apart from all the physical challenges including the one which had caused Cooper to go off.
When the teams came back out again, Casilla had change from the blue kit to the orange kit. Twice the Leeds United bench were spoken to by the referee and it ended with firsly Corboran getting booked then Bielsa due to too many coaches in the technical area. What a farce especially when WBA’s manager kept encroaching on to the pitch but although he was spoken to he wasn’t booked.
The second half saw firstly Leeds come close after some great work by Costa before WBA had two shots off target. Costa again did some great footwork, brought a good save out of their keeper and Klich’s shot from the rebound was blocked. He also saved another shot from Harrison. Roberts coming on for his first start after injury made some impressive runs and looked on fire. Leeds weren’t having it all their own way though but WBA were kept out by good defending and another save from Casilla. With 15 minutes to go when Leeds had just been attacking Bielsa brought Ayling on to replace Roberts. We were all mystified to say the least and couldn’t understand why? We thought in the end it must have been because he was just coming back from injury but that took the sting out of the game for the next five minutes. Luckily this time we weren’t going to sit back and invite them to defend as we got going again after WBA had got the better of us after the last substitution. With the crowd urging Leeds on, they battled until the final whistle blew to win the game 1-0. Bamford got the man of the match and I must say in the second half he really was putting himself about and showing some aggression and not being pushed off the ball all the time. The whole team had put up a battling performance to return us to the top of the table. Things could change before we head to Millwall on Saturday for another London game and early set off. It was great to get the win tonight – See you on Saturday, LUFC – Marching on Together!
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, Leeds United in the 1980s
- The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17
- Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18
- Out soon: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited