Nottingham Forest V Leeds United 8th February 2020 at the City Ground

 Last week’s defeat by Wigan saw social media once again go into meltdown. Fans are entitled to their opinions and I learnt a long time ago that there will always be lots of differences in them. What I do find very sad though, is how toxic it became when I started to read a lot of the comments. Bielsa will not get everything right that’s for sure, but for those calling for his head that is something I cannot agree with. There is still a long way to go and I still have hope and belief that we can turn this around. With the result going against us again today, the social media side will not be any better this week.

After stopping in Mansfield, we got to the ground 30 minutes before kick-off, getting dropped off outside the turnstiles. One thing that surprised me was getting straight into the ground without the pre-requisite bag searches which for once were missing. My flag was hung up near the front of the stand which I could see from my seat which was next to the divide between the two sets of fans.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Cooper, Dallas, Klich, Alioski, White, Hernandez, Bamford, Costa and Harrison. Subs: Roberts for Hernandez (59), Shackleton for Alioski (70) and Jean-Kevin Augustin making his debut for Bamford (71).  Referee. O. Langford. Leeds lost the game 2-0. Attendance 29,455 with 1,993 Leeds fans.

As the game kicked off, this was the noisiest I have ever heard them at the City ground. The flag waving and record playing got their fans wound up plus of course they were playing Leeds United! With Forest starting on the attack, Casilla was called into action twice to make the saves. They looked a strong side winning some corners, which saw man marking around Casilla, leaving him with no room. Leeds had an attack which ended with Alioski’s shot deflecting wide although I didn’t realise that as I was surprised to see we’d got a corner from it. Not long after that Forest took the lead. Hernandez’s pass was very poor, and Forest took advantage by winning possession and running towards us. When their player was in the penalty area looking to cross the ball, instead he took a shot that went past Casilla’s near post and into the net. He really shouldn’t have been beaten with that shot although it was very powerful. That was the score as we went into the break.

The second half saw us start with no changes as Leeds attacked towards the goal in front of the Leeds fans. A counterattack by Forest saw them nearly double their lead but although in loads of space, their final shot was saved by Casilla. Roberts came on as sub and I hoped that playing alongside Bamford would help. Unfortunately, the first tackle on Roberts saw him injured and reports from some fans after the game, indicated that he left on crutches which isn’t a good sign. Augustin came on in place of Bamford which was a shame as I’d like to see us try two strikers up front. Alioski had to go off for me as the Forest players were gunning for him and I thought he would get sent off otherwise. It was nice to see Shackleton come on as sub too. Augustin won a corner and you could almost feel the panic in the Forest defence as they didn’t know what to do with him. Cooper’s header was very close to going over the line as Forest cleared it. Leeds were trying to get something out of the game as they attacked the goal in front of us. A ball boy to the right of us walked very slowly with the ball and then put it on the floor to waste time rather than give it to our player for a throw in. We kept getting caught offside, but one was really annoying as a Forest player handled the ball on the wing first and we didn’t get the free-kick we should have had. There was always a danger we could concede a second goal, but I was hoping to get at least a draw out of the game. As it was with another counterattack, Harrison was bundled off the ball by two of the Forest players as they ran to the far end and scored a second goal at the death. Harrison had been the last man but wasn’t strong enough to take on two players. That sent the Forest fans next to us wild as they surged towards the Leeds fans. Just before the end of the game, one of the Forest stewards indicated to me not to take any photos as our stewards wondered what was going on. I decided to go and get my flag and as I got to the front of the stand the final whistle blew. A few minutes after the end of the game I was stood with my back to the Forest fans as a coin hit my head. Idiots and apparently, they’d been doing that all game. My beret came in handy as it saved me from an injury but a lad earlier, had got a right bruise from one hitting him. All our disabled fans were in that area too which makes it even worse for me. To hear that they had to go through the baying Forest fans to get out of the ground wasn’t good either. Luckily their fans were cleared to make way for them.

Back on the coach there was a lot of resignation from the Leeds fans especially with the trip to Brentford next. After being shown Ayling being interviewed after the game I thought he looked close to tears and was very down. Bielsa had listened to the fans and I thought the subs made us look stronger but we were beaten in the end by two breakaway goals. Just don’t give up Leeds but maybe we need a bit of reverse psychology. We are not challenging for automatic promotion so forget it and take the pressure off yourselves. 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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