With a new ground to visit on the horizon, I was looking forward to the game. Although there would be a lot of changes to the team from Saturday, it was a chance to see our fringe players in action including our latest signings in Costa and Nketiah. As someone who wants us to progress in the cups as winning breeds winning in my eyes, I didn’t want any banana skins tonight but a progression to the next round. With it only being a short journey over the Pennines, we got there before the gates had even opened but luckily we didn’t have long to wait before we were let in. Everyone was searched before being allowed in but I think some things were way over the top. When I saw one of our disabled fans being patted down I shook my head. The lady who searched me laughed at all my bags etc. but I even had to open my water bottle to prove it was water. Another lad was asked to open his wallet! Apparently they were looking for drugs.
I hung my flag up at the front of the barriers because I knew they wouldn’t be allowed along the perimeter due to advertising hoardings. We had plenty of flags on show as usual and with so many familiar faces there I had loads saying hello or asking for photos. It’s always nice to have a chat with many of our fans who I saw today, but I’m biased when I say we have the best fans in the world. There had been a lot of hype for this game by Sky as they were doing a documentary on Salford City due to the involvement of ex man u player Gary Neville and others. There is only one class of 92 and that was Howard Wilkinson’s Leeds United who won the First Division, making us the Last Champions before the invention of the Premier League!
The team: Casilla, Berardi (Captain), Phillips, Leif Davis, Helda Costa (first start), Eddie Nketiah (making his debut), Clarke, Shackleton, White, Klich and Alioski. Subs: Alfie McCalmont (making his debut) for Clarke (70), Harrison for Alioski (78) and Bamford for Nketiah (78). Attendance was a sell-out 5,108 with 1,400 Leeds fans. Leeds won the game 3-0 with goals from Nketiah (43), Berardi (50) and Klich (58).
The first half saw Casilla tested early on before Phillips found his shot sailing way off target. It was worth a try especially as we were building up very slowly in our attacks. We had Davis to thank for keeping Salford out from a corner with a goal line clearance with Casilla beaten. We looked very shaky at that moment as defending corners once again nearly came to haunt us. It was only when Salford attacked us that I realised how tall their players were. With one corner Alioski looked like he was going to try and mark one of them which would have been another David and Golath show. Luckily the other players made sure White got to mark him instead. I’ve no idea why other teams always seem to have giants in them! Phillips’s next effort brought a great save out of their goalie and shortly afterwards he (Neal) prevented him scoring again. Salford always looked dangerous on the break when they were running towards us but Casilla did well to make the save to prevent them taking the lead. Clarke was the next one unlucky not to score when Neal saved a long range shot from him. Although we had a few chances we had kept the tempo low and I said it was like watching paint dry and we needed to up it. Just before half-time we did just that, when Shackleton sent a great pass out to Costa who beat his man at the by-line sending a great cross for Nketiah to get a goal on his debut. Klich was very unlucky not to get us a second before the break as his shot went past the wrong side of the post. The goal was just what we needed going into the second half.
Having got the vital break of a goal, we only had to wait five minutes in the second half to get another. This time Berardi scored his second goal for Leeds when he got on the end of a corner to beat Neal to put us two up on the night. He ran straight back to the other end to celebrate probably because when he got his first goal at Newport he got booked for celebrating with the Leeds fans. Klich came close to giving Leeds a third when he should have kept the ball down but volleyed it over. Casilla then made two great saves to deny Salford the chance to get back into the game. Leeds then broke free from the corner and came charging towards the Leeds fans with Klich in the driving seat. He kept going and sent a fantastic shot into the top corner of the net to send the Leeds fans into overdrive especially in the no man’s land in front of the barriers! We had Casilla to thank for another save before Berardi made our second goal line clearance to keep Salford out. Luckily they were unable to score from a rebound with the goal at their mercy after another Casilla save. Keeping a clean sheet and getting a 3-0 win was good to see and now we meet Stoke at Elland Road the week after we play them away in the league.
When one of their fans ran onto the pitch and went to score he slipped and missed which had the Leeds fans jeering at him. As he slipped back into the crowd, his jacket was thrown back onto the pitch as he mingled with their fans. Surprise, surprise though he wasn’t challenged at all by their stewards. There again those at our end did try to move our fans out of the no man’s land after our second goal but gave up rather quickly. He was the second fan to end up on his arse as one going out at half-time to the left of us was trying to be clever and fell over too. Must be something in the water over there! One thing I didn’t hear until after the game was Salford fans mocking the deaths of our two lads in Turkey. I’ve no time for imbeciles like that and although not a violent person would love them to get their comeuppance!
Saturday sees us back in league action with the away game at Wigan where we have a big following of over 5,000 fans. Keep scoring goals Leeds and get us another win. 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
Website: www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk Twitter: @FollowMeAndLUFC Facebook: Follow Me and Leeds United: Instagram: Heidi Haigh – lufcheidi @followmeandleedsunited