Middlesbrough v Leeds United 26th February 2020 at The Riverside

Travelling to the game after work, I found out on the coach that I’d won a corporate ticket to the Huddersfield game. As someone who always wears my Leeds colours, it was a relief to know that I can still do that. Having never been in corporate before as I prefer to be on the terraces, it will be a different experience that’s for sure. I’m going to meet a friend for my book Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United a bit earlier than intended now, so hopefully that doesn’t impact too much on her. Also, it was nice to see Jonny Joseph secretary of LUSC Los Angeles travelling with us to the game.

We were the last coach to arrive for the police escort and we set off as soon as we got there. Getting to the ground was no issue but trying to get 15 coachloads of Leeds fans who arrived at the same time through the turnstiles, was a bigger challenge. I met some Leeds fans who said they’d been talking to a friend in Australia who knew me. As I share my blog with the Australian Whites it is nice to know that fans do read it. Another fan told me to keep posting on LinkedIn too so thank you everyone who does read my blogs. Eventually as one of the queues didn’t move, I went through a different one but only one turnstile was working. Eventually the second one started working again but then the lad in front of me couldn’t get his ticket to work. At first, we thought it was because we were in the wrong turnstile according to the ticket, but he let me through first and mine worked. Luckily, we still got in before kick-off and my flag was put up at the front of the stand. I went the wrong way across the stand to find my seat before I retraced my steps and found it just as the game started. I also had to delete lots of photos on my camera as the SD card was full, what an idiot for not checking it from Saturday! It meant I’d to go back at the end of the game to find our steward Phil Thumbsup Cresswell who was celebrating his 60th birthday, as the photo I took at the start wouldn’t open.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, White, Berardi, Hernandez, Bamford, Costa, Harrison, Klich and Dallas. Sub: Shackleton for Hernandez (73). Referee: G. Ward. Attendance: 24,647 with 4,400 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game with a goal by Klich in injury time at the end of the first half (45+1).

It didn’t take long to realise that Boro’s finishing was very poor and I felt that the game was there for the taking. Even though we weren’t passing brilliantly at times which went to Boro players instead, their shots at goal were way off target with one going out for a Leeds throw. As far as I was concerned, they could do that all game. One thing I noticed was they had narrowed the pitch which I felt took us a little while to get used to. We’d had a couple of chances with a Bamford header being saved and another shot from him going narrowly wide. Stuart Dallas had a great shot saved by their keeper before we had a penalty appeal turned down when Costa was brought down in the area. Leeds continued to attack and both Harrison and Bamford had shots saved by their keeper. With injury time on the clock, Leeds pressed forward again, and Bamford passed the ball to Hernandez only to see his shot bounce back off the post. Just when we thought the chance had gone, Hernandez got the ball again and passed to Klich who put the ball into the net to send the Leeds fans wild just before the whistle went for half time. A very timely goal to put us in a good position. There was a lively atmosphere down underneath the stands which wasn’t surprising but it’s nice to hear happy singing Leeds fans.

The second half saw the Boro keeper once again keeping a Leeds shot out this time from Dallas. Not long after this Boro looked as if they wanted to get something out of the game and Casilla was called into action making a great save from a long-range shot. They started to put some pressure on us but our breaking out from defence into attack was good to see. The keeper then denied Hernandez a goal before we had another penalty appeal turned down. This one was even more blatant when Harrison was fouled in the area, but the referee played on. He did play on numerous times for both sides which is better than having stop and start free kicks all over the place, but he got that decision wrong. Harrison was limping for a short while afterwards. I thought Howson started to get into the game more which impacted on the way Boro played and they hit the crossbar with Casilla beaten. That was the only time I worried they may get back into the game. Leeds looked certain to double the lead as Ayling passed the ball from the byline across the goalmouth. As shouts went up saying how did Bamford miss that one, replays later showed that the ball deflected just in front of him which luckily for Boro ensured their keeper could save it. The deflection was the difference to the ball not going in the net. I said it wasn’t going to make a difference as we would win, Boro were rubbish and weren’t allowed to score. We didn’t give up and Harrison came close again with another shot going narrowly wide. Leeds had to be on their toes in the final minutes when Boro won a free kick just outside the area, with Casilla eventually saving the ball after a deflection. We managed to see the game out to get a vital win and another three points. That’ll do for me Leeds so keep going! After the team had clapped the Leeds fans at the end of the game, Phillips who was still injured came and got the Leeds fans cheering three times with his new routine again. As the team were heading off the pitch suddenly, the few Boro fans behind the goal started trying to get to some Leeds fans. When I zoomed the camera in, they were mostly young kids oh dear!

Saturday sees us head to Hull for the lunchtime kick-off but same as Boro tonight, the clubs could have given us even more tickets and we would have sold them. I can’t believe they would rather throw the money away than have Leeds fans take over their grounds even more! With more bad weather forecast for the weekend with high winds, I hope they shut the high bridge at Goole as I do not want to go over that. I can remember going over there in a double decker bus with the Halifax Whites and many of them on the top deck were trying to get the bus to tip over by all going to the seats at the left-hand side. To say I was worried is an understatement. It was that same horrendous feeling I’d had whilst crossing Carlton bridge last Sunday with the river high and starting to flood which two days later became a torrent. 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 now: Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United

 Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

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