Middlesbrough v Leeds United 9th February 2019 at The Riverside Stadium

First of all I want to wish a speedy recovery to young Jack Clarke and hope that he is okay, after an incident in the dugout in the second half resulted in him being taken to hospital. This resulted in 12 minutes of injury time which also included time added for subs and time wasting by Boro.

The #spygate saga rose its head again yesterday with the EFL saying they needed more time to go over their observations. I hope this means that Lampard will be brought to task for exaggerating what happened and look into the cheating of other teams etc. I also realise that pigs may fly too!! It’s a disgrace and they aren’t fit for purpose as we didn’t do anything wrong. What isn’t even questionable either is they don’t even try to hide their biased treatment against Leeds United anymore which shows how blatant it is.

I have made sure I have passed on my opinions about home and away tickets, to Leeds United, The Leeds United Supporters Trust (LUST) and the Leeds United Supporters Club. I have also completed a survey for LUST and suggest if you are a member and feel strongly about this that you ensure you share those opinions. There is a forthcoming meeting with the club as far as I’m aware to discuss these findings.

With the LFU AGM coming up I am hoping to attend this on a personal level and as a representative of a group of fans. I know there has been a lot of differing opinions being floated around regarding some people wanting their money back which is their right. Personally mine will stay in for whatever project is coming next.

As we headed to Boro on a really windy and stormy day, it reminded me of last year when we had bad snow which prevented lots of our fans getting to it. By the time we got to Leeds and on our way to our stop in Green Hammerton, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. The wind was always going to have an impact on the game though. The time we had at the club passed really quickly as there was plenty of chatting, laughs and support given amongst us and before we knew it we were on our way to the police escort. By the time we got there it had left the services so with another three coaches we set off for the ground in convoy without an escort. Unfortunately due to traffic, taking a wrong turn and eventually getting into the car park late, we only got in the ground two minutes before kickoff. At least we made it as the teams were already on the pitch as I headed to the end to hang my flag up next to the Shropshire Whites flag.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson, Phillips, Alioski, Harrison, Bamford, Roofe, Clarke and Klich. Subs: Hernandez for Clarke (46), Roberts for Klich (58) and Shackleton for Ayling (80). Score was 1-1 with Phillips scoring for Leeds (90+11) to equalise at the death. Attendance was 30,881 with approx. 4,500 Leeds fans.

Today was always going to be an important game to try and get us back on track after last week’s defeat by Norwich. Bielsa doesn’t make many changes and although I would have liked to see Shackleton start in place of Ayling, he stuck with the latter. Ayling has been struggling for me and maybe a stint on the bench would fully benefit his recovery from his recent injury. One thing I will not condone though is people tweeting abuse at him, he is a member of our team and doesn’t deserve that regardless if he plays well or not. That goes for any of our players. We had a couple of early chances but didn’t get any on target. One thing that didn’t make sense was us putting high balls in which under the conditions and Boro having height in their defence didn’t work. We need to play to our strengths with the ball being on the floor. We had Casilla to thank for making a great save to deny Boro the lead. On 22 minutes Leeds fans joined in with clapping as a tribute to a Boro fan who was killed recently. I got really angry with Leeds a couple of times as we were on the attack but instead of going forwards, we passed it back to Casilla which put us under pressure and gave Boro the impetus to attack us. They were needless decisions especially when they nearly scored. Our best form of defence is attack which has been proven time after time. Boro came close with a corner as their player headed it over. Luckily for us, as it looked like Casilla took his eyes off the ball as their player got to the ball first.

At the start of the second half Hernandez came on in place of Clarke. Within two minutes our change of tactics contributed to Boro taking the lead as their player ended up in loads of space at the edge of the box. As the ball hit the back of the net that sinking feeling in my stomach appeared again. Despite Boro taking the lead we tried taking the game to them and weren’t giving up. We didn’t always get a run of the ball sadly but we were still trying to get into the game. We came close a couple of times and we should have taken our chance when Bamford hit the ball wide from close range when it really should have hit the back of the net. Their goalie was leading a charmed life when he made a couple of point blank saves to keep us out. As Boro started play acting and time wasting this wound up the Leeds fans. As their player took ages to get off the pitch the referee wasn’t even watching him as he stopped, clapped the Boro fans and hugged his players before eventually getting off the pitch. A couple of minutes after Shackleton came on in place of Ayling Leeds won a corner. Instead of us taking it everything halted and I couldn’t understand why until someone said something had happened in the Leeds dug out. I saw the Paramedics there as I zoomed in with my camera but couldn’t see who it was. The game stopped for a long while so I went to get my flag; the game resumed as our player was put on a stretcher. It was only afterwards that I found out it was Clarke who needed treatment and was taken to hospital after being taken ill. Fingers crossed it isn’t anything too serious and he makes a full and quick recovery. I’d said to one of the Shropshire lads that we needed to play until the final whistle on 90 minutes then realised that it was already past that. I then said until 102 minutes instead and never give up.

As the game resumed, I decided to wait on the stairs in the corner of the stand. I did think that if Leeds scored it wouldn’t be a good place to be as the fans would come hurtling down the stairs. Well I must have had a premonition as we did indeed get that equaliser on 101 minutes. As the ball flew across the area it was headed in to the net by Phillips. I couldn’t work out who had the final touch of the ball until Leeds fans started singing “He’s magic you know, Phillips the Yorkshire Perlo”. I was right in the thick of it as fans came flying down the stairs to the front and going nuts. I moved to the side, grabbed my bag as my feet shot out from under me as I’d no grip on them. Luckily as I fell my bum landed on the seat so I was fine but it could have been so much worse. I then stood on my seat to see and take photos as Leeds fans celebrated. I did see a little lad being lifted over the front and taken by our stewards down the tunnel. I hope he was okay and not sure if he’d just been separated from whoever was with him by the celebrations. As we celebrated as if it was a winner, that goal meant we won a very hard point which could prove to be a turning point for us. The conditions were not brilliant today but we persevered which got us a just result. That goal was for Jack Clarke!

My camera suffered a fault as it wouldn’t let me see the screen at the back of it but worked okay on a selfie. I think I’ve sorted it but as we have Swansea at home next Wednesday it is needed! With QPR away being changed due to their progress in the FA Cup it means even more changes to our forthcoming fixtures on top of the live TV games. Let’s get Swansea over the line first so see you there, LUFC – Marching on Together. 

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18