Preston v Leeds United 22nd October 2019 at Deepdale

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My little grandson Freddie went to the pumpkin place near Pontefract and met Stuart Dallas at the weekend so thank you for the photo you had taken with him. Tomorrow night sees the opening event of the Leeds United Memorabilia Exhibition organised by The Trust so I’m looking forward to seeing what is there. My flag didn’t make an appearance at the game tonight due to it being part of the Exhibition along with my collection of badges with most collected during the 70s. There was a little shop in the market that we always made a beeline for before home and away games (unless we set off too early) and whenever there was a new badge available, it had to be bought. I’m very proud of my collection and my grateful thanks go to my late father-in-law who framed them for me.

My daughter Danielle was driving me to this game as we were both going straight from work. We encountered heavy traffic around Birch Services where we had a short break before arriving at our parking spot in Preston in good time. Having a pre-booked spot not far from the ground is great as we were at the ground before your knew it, but also before the turnstiles had even opened. I got in without any issues despite my puppy eating some of my ticket because luckily for me she left the barcode intact!

With my delivery of books only arriving today I managed to get some copies of Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United to take with me courtesy of my husband who brought them to work. Glen was the first person to buy one so thank you for your support. I’ll have some at Sheffield Wednesday for those who asked for them and are priced at £14.99 for those who wanted to know, so see you there.

The team: Casilla, Ayling, Berardi, White, Alioski, Harrison, Bamford, Klich, Costa, Phillips and Dallas, an unchanged team. Subs: A double substitution of Roberts for Berardi and Nketiah for Bamford (77). Leeds drew 1-1 with Nketiah getting our goal ten minutes after coming on (87), from a looping header that was helped into the goal by a deflection. Attendance was 18,275 with 5,648 Leeds fans which as usual, was a great attendance from Leeds fans but I saw lots of new faces around. One thing I can’t understand is why we haven’t got a Leeds United mascot once again. With all the young kids that go to games it doesn’t make sense to me.

Leeds won a corner in the opening stages of the game but our chance on goal went wide. Leeds nearly gifted Preston an early goal with a short back pass to Casilla from Berardi but luckily Casilla made an early move to win the ball. Leeds started winning corners and continued to attack the Preston goal at the far end with Bamford’s effort hitting the side netting. Although we had chances we weren’t getting any on target which was frustrating some of the fans around me. The first half was going through the motions and Preston started to get into the game more and with all the possession we had been having, I didn’t want them to score against the run of play. With Alioski’s shot going wide of the post after some great attacking football we went into the break on even terms.

The second half started off well with Leeds in the attack but we still didn’t make the most of our chances with most of them going wide and it was around the 60th minute where their goalie saved one on target. With many fans getting frustrated and saying Bielsa needed to make changes, my thoughts were that I had to have confidence in his decisions and maybe we could pull things around. I know many were getting angry with Bamford as he couldn’t get any of his chances on target and whilst I understand their frustrations, my take on it is that he needs someone with him, he cannot do the lone striker. When I think back, it took Chris Wood a long time to be able to take his chances when playing in that role. The one thing that Bamford has done is get more involved on the pitch, often being on the wing and does a lot of work in that way that has to be taken into account.

As it was, Preston took their rare chance by running down the right and crossed to the middle when our attack broke down and were able to score with 15 minutes left on the clock. Bielsa didn’t make a change immediately but then brought on a double substitution of Roberts and Eddie for Berardi and Bamford respectively. A lot of fans were upset that Bamford was subbed because I think like me; they would like to see both him and Eddie playing together. I was brought up on football played 4-4-2 and it is a formation I hanker after, having seen the best Leeds United team ever play under Don Revie with my hero Billy Bremner. Now I don’t know how I would change the team around in that respect, especially as they are brought up to play a different style of football. It may not be quite so easy to change things but at times I would like to see that given a go. The same as last week, Roberts coming on raised the tempo of the game for me. We got the equaliser out of the blue, Nketiah headed the ball which looped towards the goal then dropped onto the goal line. This was then given a helping hand by their player trying to head it off the line but only succeeding in heading it further into the goal. The drama didn’t end there, Leeds fan were screaming for a penalty in the last minutes when Roberts was brought down in the penalty area. Personally I didn’t think it was a clear cut penalty as I thought Roberts dragged his leg behind him but it wasn’t given anyway. Preston came close to scoring in the final minutes before the final whistle went.

The positives are that we got a point away from home where Preston are undefeated this season. There are many fans saying Bielsa is stubborn but I do think he has to go with his own judgements and not swap and change because someone says this and someone else says that. He does make little changes to his starting teams and it should be that players have to fight for places and not become complacent thinking they have a guaranteed place in the team. Bielsa is very thorough in what he does and yes will make mistakes as he is only human, but I still value what he has brought to Leeds United and our team as a whole. There is a long way to go until the end of the season and whilst not playing brilliantly we are up there at the top of the league. Personally I am not a lover of expensive loans and would much rather have kept our personnel, used our youngsters as well as bring the few extra players in. If we do go up, you will lose your loans and the nucleus of your team depth rather than keeping consistency within the team. That saying, the one loan I do love is Ben White as he has done fantastic and fitted in so well, he is one player I’d love to keep.

A man stood in front of me said he reads my blogs and he likes them because I am really nice to everyone so thank you for the comments which are appreciated. Just as we were leaving our parking spot, the lady who owned the house came out and said we were welcome back anytime which was nice to hear. I’d also like to say a big thank you to David Hill once again for his help in sorting this out for me.

We got stuck in traffic near Rochdale as the M62 went down to one lane but luckily got past it all after 15 minutes.  It should have been shut altogether at 9pm but it looked like they’d kept it open until later (11.15pm) to let the majority of the football traffic from Preston get past first which was good. It meant I didn’t get home until 11.35pm, but still that wasn’t too bad on the whole. Saturday sees the early kick-off and short trip over to Sheffield Wednesday so see you there, 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: Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited

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