With my husband attending his first game since his cancer treatment ended, we picked up an excited granddaughter Alexis to head to Elland Road. It was a beautiful day but was to be a challenging day for my husband to keep out of the sun! We headed to Billy’s statue on arrival as I was meeting friends there and also looking out for the wreaths that were being left for WACCOE who died suddenly last week. He was a well-known Leeds fan on Twitter and he travelled with the South Wales Whites. I managed to meet up with a group of his friends as they laid their wreath next to a couple of others including one from my friend Susan and Bremner her dog. He was also given a good WACCOE chant on the terraces from the 54th minute. It was nice to chat to loads of our fans there and take photos before heading to the Peacock.
It was one of those days where loads of fans wanted to talk and it took me 20 minutes to get out of the Peacock car park as I was talking that much. It was a good job my daughter Danielle had already gone into the ground with Alexis. It was nice to see some of our Norwegian fans who follow my blog and others including someone I used to work with. Earlier, Shona had said that I knew everybody. I said I do know a lot of people and with that the next person who walked past us said hello Heidi so we all burst out laughing as she said I told you so!
I got into the ground and went straight to stand at the steps ready for the team to come out. Straight away I was targeted by a steward so I said I always take my photos and go to my seat once we are ready for the start. With that he obviously went and spoke to another one who knew me as he came to see me. I know it’s all down to health and safety but it does get overpowering at times. I know they had a word with a woman I know who had to stand on her seat as she couldn’t see. She refused to get down unless they made everyone else in front of her sit down so she could see. In the end they said if she fell she couldn’t blame Leeds United which is fair enough and she accepted that.
The team: Casilla, Cooper, White, Alioski, Phillips, Klich, Hernandez, Harrison, Bamford, Shackleton and Dallas. Subs: Costa for Harrison (58), Douglas for Hernandez (73) and Nketiah for Bamford (79). Attendance was 34,714 with 1,024 Derby fans. The game ended in a 1-1 draw with an own goal by Lowe giving Leeds a 1-0 lead in the 29th minute and Derby getting an equaliser in 90+2.
A packed Elland Road saw Leeds taking the game to Derby in the opening minutes and although we came close, Derby were defending in numbers. There were a few blatant pushes into the back of our players that the ref let go although with one we were in possession and attacking so he played on. A couple should not have been let go though and with one, Bamford won a great header under pressure, only for the linesman in front of the Derby fans to put his flag up as their player went down like a sack of spuds. It was won fair and square and should not have warranted the decision especially as they were given the free-kick. It was obvious there was nothing wrong with him and we’d been denied a great chance to score as Bamford was in plenty of space. I can’t say I knew much about the Derby players on the pitch to be honest as it’s a case of out of sight out of mind for me. I only knew Keogh due to him being called ugly by the Leeds fans.
Leeds took the lead following a free-kick from Phillips, Bamford hit the ball back across the goal only for Dallas’s shot to be saved by their keeper. Luckily for us his save rebounded off their player to bounce back into the net for an own goal to put Leeds into the lead on the half hour mark. Dallas was unlucky not to get onto the score sheet, with a great save from Roos the Derby keeper preventing one and another kicked off the line. Harrison brought another great save out of the keeper as Leeds kept the Derby attack to a minimum. The linesman had already put his flag up before Shackleton hit the ball into the net just before the break. Leeds had shown a lot of attacking football in the first half as we went into the break 1-0 up.
The second half saw Leeds unlucky not to get a second goal in the first few minutes as Bamford’s shot rebounded off the post. As Leeds were still continuing the attacks I was surprised to see Costa come on so early to replace Harrison who I thought had played well. Although Costa was quick to win a corner it took a little while for him to get into the game for me before swapping sides. Bamford brought a save out of their goalie again before winning Leeds a penalty with some determined attacking before being brought down. Klich went to take the penalty for the second game in a row only this time put it wide of the post in a costly miss. That was the difference with being two goals up and putting some distance between the teams. I wasn’t too worried that Douglas was brought on to replace Hernandez but it became apparent very quickly that we had started defending deep, inviting Derby to attack us. When Casilla lost the ball, Phillips was able to clear the ball off the line but in injury time Derby upped the tempo and ran at us, which ended with them equalising in stoppage time. That was a blow but not unexpected and as someone said afterwards it felt like a defeat. I do feel that the subs didn’t work today and bringing on a defender when taking Hernandez off changed how we were playing as we resorted to playing deeper.
It has been said that Leeds find playing at home hard with the expectations of the fans. What I will say is once we started defending you could feel the atmosphere change and go quiet. It’s times like this where we should become the twelfth man but the players are the ones who can make that happen. Battle and fight for every ball and it won’t go quiet. We had so much possession again today and have to start taking our chances although we were unlucky with the ball coming back off the post and being kicked off the line. The penalty miss proved costly in the end too. At the end of the game, I wasn’t sure what happened as Phillips was clapping the fans left in the Kop; he went to the front and had words with someone but didn’t look very pleased either. As Alexis and I got near to Billy’s statue we could hear a commotion up ahead so we went and stood near the statue out of the way. With that loads of police came around the corner with what I can only describe were a small group of Derby fans. Why they were bringing them that way I’ve no idea but it caused a lot of unrest amongst our fans in the vicinity.
Next week sees us head to Charlton with ex-Leeds player Lee Bowyer in charge. If we can’t win them all, then go out and make sure we don’t lose another game. See you then, 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