Oxford United (H) 29th July 2017

It was good to be going back to Elland Road today even though it was a friendly against Oxford and not the start of the Championship games. Others seem to think the close season has dragged but for me personally it has flown due to so many things going on. Having seen my youngest daughter Emily married last week on a perfect day from start to finish, I couldn’t have been prouder. I’d decided to bring my three granddaughters to the game today but when I ordered my tickets online, didn’t choose them myself. This meant that we were to be near to the front in N2. Because Leeds had decided to change the kids under 16 to free as long as they were with a fee paying adult, it meant that I was to get vouchers for ours. It was a great gesture but it did mean it put pressure on staff today.

I’d not taken queuing up into consideration so we didn’t arrive at Elland Road until 1.30pm. I had a quick chat with my friend Sue as we met at the traffic lights as we headed to the club shop. The queue for this was already as far back as Billy’s statue.  I left the kids in the queue with a woman watching them as I ran to the West Stand Ticket office first to hand some forms in and the lady behind the counter quickly input things. I got back to the shop and the kids had only moved a short way so this wasn’t going to be a quick get it done thing.  It was nice to get a thank you from a lad who I’d given permission to use some of my photos. I’ve no issue with anyone using my photos as long as they give me credit for them. As the queue went all down one side of the shop and up the other I debated whether to come again after the game. When I was at the West Stand ticket office a steward said that although we had to collect the vouchers from the club shop it didn’t need to be today. I decided to stay and we eventually got out around 2.30pm but headed to the Peacock for a quick stop. I’d just missed Sue so we only stayed there for 10 minutes and headed into the ground.

When we found our seats I thought the view wasn’t too bad but I moved further over to the corner as the game kicked off, as there was no way I could hold on to three kids at the same time if they had to stand on their seats. It worked out fine though and there were quite a few familiar faces around me.

The team today was Felix Wiedwald, Luke Ayling, Matthew Pennington (loanee from Everton), Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi, Eunan O’Kane, Kalvin Phillips, Pablo Hernandez, Kemar Roofe, Ezgjan Alioski and Chris Wood. Subs were Stuart Dallas (for Alioski 63), Samuel Saiz (for Hernandez 63), Hadi Sacko (for Roofe 63), Vurnon Anita (for Ayling 78), Liam Bridcutt (for Phillips 78), Mateusz Klich (for O’Kane 78) and Caleb Ekuban (for Wood 78). Subs not used were Robert Green, Bailey Peacock-Farrell, Tyler Denton, Madger Gomes, Pontus Jansson, Marcus Antonsson, and Souleymane Doukara. Attendance was 13,295 with 314 Oxford fans. Today saw the return of Pep Clotet who was now manager of Oxford. This was also the first game at Elland Road with Thomas Christiansen as manager (sorry I’m a traditionalist and don’t like to refer to him as a coach!)

It is going to take me a while to remember who is who and will look forward to seeing the squad numbers so I can work out who is playing where. As it was the first half meant only Wiedwald, Pennington and Alioski were new faces in the team so it wasn’t too bad to work them out. It was quite challenging at times to focus on the football when watching the three girls; with the youngest being three years old it reminded me of the times in my younger days that I used to bring my nephew Mark and niece Sonya to the games. In those days of standing in the Kop, they used to stand in the Police Boxes that ran along the back of the stand. It seems such a long time ago now!  We attacked the empty South Stand in the first half (the only stands open were the Kop and the East Stand for this game). Despite a bad back pass in the first few minutes Leeds had most of the game but Oxford did do some attacking. A couple of corners on the trot saw Wiedwald launch himself into mid-air to punch the ball away. Although we played the ball out of defence comfortably, at times it seemed a little too close for comfort with Oxford players very close to the play.  Alioski was playing on the right hand side for a while but swapped with Roofe who ended up scoring before half time with a well taken goal. He side stepped Oxford players in the penalty area before hitting a low shot in to the right of the goalie (looking from the Kop).

At half time the kids enjoyed going down to the front of the Kop and it was nice to be introduced to Steve who enjoys reading my blogs. Thank you for the feedback which is appreciated.

The second half saw Leeds attack towards the Kop and Berardi nearly got himself on the score sheet with a long range shot that their goalie managed to hang on to and prevent a goal. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen our players taking a long range shot at goal and this is something that has been missing many times when we tried to walk the ball into the net instead.  The first subs were made and Leeds started to attack more with Sacko seeing plenty of the ball and running down the wing in front of the East Stand. Dallas continued where he left off at Guiseley with another spectacular goal from a similar angle to the two he scored there.  Long may these continue please! As Leeds ran out 2-0 winners on the day it had been nice to get back to watching the football. My granddaughters were upset that Pontus didn’t play but as he is banned for the first two games I would have thought that was the reason why. Christiansen should now have an idea of who the team will be for the first game of the season at Bolton. Alioski looked lively and seems very fast and Saiz looks as if he can put himself about too. Hopefully when I sit back in my season ticket place for future games I can see more of who plays where. I am hopeful that the season will get off to a good start although there is a long way to go. My reasoning is that we have to go for automatic promotion. Of course whether that happens is another thing, but it needs to be our main goal and as long as we try and go for it, that is all I ask.

At the end of the game I nearly didn’t recognise big John who travelled with the Kippax years ago and it was nice to have a chat although I lost the two elder granddaughters who carried on to Billy’s statue, oops!  I had to run after the little one as she carried on too! My fault for chatting too much as usual lol!

Next week sees the season start for real with our trip to Bolton on the Sunday. After all the issues many of our fans had in getting tickets for this, I’m glad that I don’t have to worry about this now. The reason I got an away season ticket in the first place was when I didn’t get a ticket for Rotherham the other year. Also being able to log on to a computer at the time of sales is getting harder and harder. I sympathise with those who haven’t missed a game for years and didn’t get a Bolton ticket.  There should have been a smaller allocation for loyalty, before the rest were put on open sale. Having heard today that many fans missed the first 40 minutes of the game today, it shows to me that there are improvements to be made for the future. I would certainly love to meet Radrizzani to have a chat about things in general. It will be interesting to see how the meetings with the fans group take place though and I look forward to seeing the outcomes in due course.

For those going to Bolton, I look forward to seeing you there and the time that we can sing “United are back” once again! LUFC – Marching on Together!