Preston 12th August 2017

I was due to meet someone at Elland Road around 2pm who was buying my second two books only to find that due to traffic and other things we didn’t get there until 2.30 pm. Sorry Richard and I will get there earlier on Tuesday! Fans were still streaming down to the ground as my granddaughter Hannah and I didn’t go to the Peacock, but went straight in the ground as I knew there would be queues. My daughter Dani had said that the queues to get into the Peacock were right back to the road earlier. I got photos of the new banners outside the ground and love the “Side before Self quote.” They certainly look good that’s for sure. As we headed into the ground I’d forgotten to get a programme as Hannah was supposed to be in it so we headed back to get one. At that moment Para Dave came up to me to say that Steve a lad from Halifax who’d died recently was in it. Hannah was in the programme as she had recently had 12” of her hair cut off for the Princess Trust to help children with cancer have wigs made and had also raised over £1,000 in the process for Candlelighters. Well done Hannah and I’m very proud of you. When I had my bag checked going into the ground I was surprised to see a hand scanner being used. I wondered what they were looking for as I thought of flares or drugs, but then realised it was to prevent sinister items being taken into the ground.

The team today was Wiedwald, Ayling, Cooper, Jansson (back after suspension), Borthwick-Jackson, Hernandez, Wood, Roofe, O’Kane, Phillips and Alioski. Subs were Vieira for Phillips (61), Saiz for Roofe (61) and Dallas for Borthwick-Jackson (82). Attendance was 32,880 with 671 Preston fans. Score was 0-0. Booked for Leeds was Vieira.

As I got into the ground I said I wasn’t used to the big crowds and wasn’t sure if I liked it (tongue in cheek!) Then I said I loved it especially when there is a great atmosphere. It was buzzing and when we sang Marching on Together it was great to hear a sizeable section of fans in the Kop singing the na, na, na, na, na, na instead of clapping.  That is something I have always sung and as I’m a traditionalist, loved to hear it again! It was good to see the minute’s applause take place once again in memory of all the Leeds fans who have died over the year. This was very humbling as usual.

As the game kicked off it didn’t take long to realise that Preston were up for it and it wasn’t going to be an easy game. They were a lot harder opposition than our last two games that’s for sure, but they also had a new manager in place after Simon Grayson took up the manager’s job at Sunderland recently. We did manage to get plenty possession though and as Alioski went forward towards the South Stand jinking past their players, his final shot was wide. Wiedwald was playing the sweeper role but at times we got a little too close for comfort. I don’t like going back to the goalie too much as I feel it puts us under pressure. This became apparent when we were near the half way line when the ball was played back to Wiedwald and we were nearly caught out. One shot from Preston looked close and at one point I thought it was heading in but luckily it went over the crossbar meaning it was 0-0 at the break.

The second half carried on with Preston frustrating us more and more and some fans in the crowd were getting restless. I didn’t realise that when Preston attacked the South Stand that they had got the ball into the net as I thought it hit the crossbar and bounced back into Wiedwald’s arms! I read afterwards that it had been disallowed for offside but I’d missed that bit. Some fans behind us were getting the songs going which was great but I couldn’t believe how slow the half was going. Not long after this about the half hour mark, Preston had their number 4 sent off for a second bookable offence and I thought this was our chance to get something out of the game. Christiansen made a double substitution again by bringing on Vieira and Saiz in place of Phillips and Roofe. We did manage to have a lot of possession but the one thing I noticed was that we were trying to walk the ball into the net. After previously shooting from a far this was actually a disappointment and it meant that we had rare chances of having a shot on target until late in the game. When we did put pressure on them, we found that the Preston goalie made some great saves to deny us. One thing Preston were guilty of was the continuous timewasting including plenty of times from their goalie. Unfortunately for us the ref didn’t pull them up for any of it which meant that this happened for most of the second half. This also carried on into the five minutes of injury time and I was very disappointed that the ref let Preston waste at least a couple of these minutes and didn’t add any time on. The plus points are that it wasn’t a defeat and a point is better than none but Preston came to do a job and succeeded in frustrating us. They could easily have stolen the points in the last minute when their attack ended up with the ball hitting the crossbar. As it was we had to settle for a goalless draw and it wasn’t to be which was a shame for all those fans who have travelled long distances to be there. The birthday present of three points that my friend Carole and I were hoping for hadn’t materialised sadly.

As Hannah and I went to look to see if there were any more of the large photos up outside the ground, she asked if she could go and see the players. We ended up staying there for a further 1½ hours but when you see how excited she was at getting a photo with Pontus, others and getting autographs, it makes you realise that you are doing something right. There were plenty of others both children and adults waiting patiently for the same. We were disappointed to learn that we had missed Saiz and also heard that some others had gone out of the ground a different way. For those players who did that it’s a shame, because the fans had waited a long time for them to come out. A little bit of interaction with the fans can go a long way to getting idol status so please take note of that!

I hadn’t realised we were playing Fulham this Tuesday for some reason so I’m glad I did. I will also have to apologise in advance to those who look forward to reading my blogs, but I will be unable to report on both the Nottingham Forest game and Newport games. An opportunity has arisen for me that I have taken but will be back reporting as usual after the international break. Next week also sees us visit Sunderland for the evening kick off when we meet up with Simon Grayson once again. It was a tough game for us today and an introduction to the Championship for Christiansen but fingers crossed we will come out fighting in the next two games.  See you Tuesday – LUFC – Marching on Together!