As we headed to Elland Road to see the game in front of a 35,000+ crowd, I was still adamant that we should play to our strengths, enjoy the game and let Wednesday do the worrying. That should enable us to get something out of it! After a visit to the Peacock I met a chap who knew me from years ago and asked if I remembered Rowan from Hull who he used to travel with. I did remember Rowan from the 80s and fantastic support from the chap who had been going to Leeds games since 1948! We got into the ground just in time for the early kick off of 12.30 pm and also another televised game.
The team was Green, Bartley, Ayling, Jansson, Berardi, Hernandez, Sacko, O’Kane, Doukara, Wood and Bridcutt. Subs were Roofe for Sacko, Vieira for O’Kane and Dallas for Hernandez. Attendance was 35,093 with approx. 2,800 Wednesday fans.
We were turned around for the second time in recent games so that we were attacking the Kop in the first half. Leeds had possession for a lot of the opening minutes without getting a clear chance on goal before Wednesday came close. It would have been Sod’s Law for them to score but instead it was Leeds who took the lead shortly afterwards. Berardi crossed the ball from in front of the West Stand and again it was in slow motion as the ball evaded everyone and came through to Chris Woods all on his own. He proceeded to put the ball into the net with us looking to see whether it had been disallowed for offside! Nothing appeared on the horizon so with our first shot on target we had scored! We had another chance shortly after, but Sacko kept the ball longer than he should have which meant we lost the chance.
Half time came with us still in the lead. There came a message over the tannoy to say that the half time penalty taker was to be a lad on his stag do. It turned out to be the young lad from the Bolton game who was filmed when we were relegated. To say that he is now getting married, it shows how much Leeds fans have had to endure the dark times over numerous years since our demise. It also says a lot about the loyalty and commitment shown from our fans during those times as we are still here! When fans like the Cornwall lads from Falmouth who were setting off at approx. 2.00 am to get to Elland Road in time for today’s game, I appreciate what our fans do to follow our team.
The second half saw Leeds really under the cosh for most of it. Wednesday were out to get an equaliser along with the help of a very poor ref. They only had to fall down when tackled and they got free kick after free kick. Admittedly some were indeed free kicks but to hand out bookings left, right and centre was over the top. When one of theirs went down I’d said that I thought the ref would have sussed out his diving out by now, so it was with great satisfaction to see his next dive get him booked for his efforts. Admittedly we all thought it was Bartley who had been booked as we all collectively groaned at the thought of him being suspended. It was a relief to see the decision go the other way for once. When Wednesday were awarded a penalty our hopes were down to Green in goal. Well he certainly pulled off a fantastic save to prevent Rhodes from scoring from the penalty spot to send the Leeds fans into raptures. Wave after wave of attacks still came our way and the players battled and defended for all they were worth to prevent them from getting an equaliser. We didn’t have many chances of going forwards and at times we were our own worst enemies. The number of times we nearly got caught out at the back by passing the ball amongst ourselves, had us with our hearts in our mouths. Bad passing as well contributed to that too but if you looked at the hard fought game where they were putting their bodies on the line, well, we can’t have it all! I kept shouting that the best form of defence is attack and we had to stop inviting them to attack us by playing deep! This had my granddaughter Hannah in stitches due to the fact I was telling the players directly what they should be doing. The second half seemed to drag with 20 minutes to go and then into injury time. We took some pressure off us in the second half when Monk used the subs but until the final whistle went there was no way you could relax as Wednesday always looked dangerous.
In one of our rare attacks Wood carried on with the offside flag up, putting the ball into the net, only to get booked for his effort! The Leeds crowd should also get a mention as we never stopped getting behind the lads and being the twelfth man on the pitch. It was great to see the ref blow his whistle to end the game and know we had got the three points in the bag. We had also done the double over Wednesday after winning at their place too. At the end of the day it wasn’t pretty from our point of view, but all that counts is we got the points in the end.
As we walked out of the ground the rain started again but it wasn’t too bad. It was nice to bump into Derek from Ireland who I had met at our pre-season friendly last year in Dublin. As we carried on to the car, it was very frustrating personally to know that I wasn’t going to be able to go to our next game at Birmingham. Due to this being changed by Sky to Friday next week instead of Saturday, changing the day is causing me to miss it. Apologies in advance to everyone who reads my blogs, but if anyone wants to write a bit about the game and/or send me their photos, I will still post them. Otherwise my blog will be missing next week.
As we are already at the end of February there aren’t that many games left and many more will be tough. We have another away game at Fulham before two home games in succession against QPR and Brighton. We just need to keep playing, getting as many points as we can, before seeing where we are in a few weeks. Time will dictate whether we get to the play offs which are a lottery, but if we can get there, who knows what will happen. See you soon – LUFC – Marching on Together!