West Ham v Leeds United 9th January 2022 at the London Stadium. FA Cup 3rd round

 

West Ham A FA Cup 3rd Round 9th January 2022

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Up at the unearthly hour of 3.45am for our trip to London this morning, for some reason it was 4.50am when I left home, before suddenly realising our coach was due to leave Leeds within 40 minutes. Luckily with very little traffic on the road, I made it from Halifax in time to pick up Nikki and get to the coach with 10 minutes to spare. After chatting all the way to Watford Gap, I then slept until our pub stop in Holborn before arriving at the ground in plenty of time for kick off. Since West Ham moved to this stadium from Upton Park which I visited many times over the years, this was the first visit for many Leeds fans today having been prevented last year due to games being played behind closed doors. The West Ham stewards outside were very helpful and friendly which was a complete contrast to our recent visit to Chelsea. Getting up early had frazzled my brain as I couldn’t understand at first why my ticket wouldn’t work. Well, it did once I opened the bar codes. There’s no hope for me!

Thank you once again to everyone for your offers of support to my family which are always appreciated, those who bought the CDs or ordered them for next week and to Mark for buying my latest book, United Are Back, Leeds United 2020/21I Back in the Premier League behind closed doors. A big thank you to Mick Glasby for his feedback and lovely words about my books: If you want to enjoy reading many exciting and sometimes very humorous adventures of a passionate long life Leeds fan then Heidi’s books are for you. Great stories and great pictures of lots of smiling Leeds fans she has met and become friends with. I myself have come to know Heidi and I call her the Queen of Elland Rd because I think that she deserves that title for all the things she has done to not only support our great club but helped to put LEEDS UTD in a worldwide shop window for our fans to enjoy and also for the various charities she has organised and supported for many less well-off people health wise. Our Heidi is a true 27 carat Yorkshire lass.

Having been privileged to have been at Wembley in 1972 to see Billy lift the FA Cup, this remains my favourite game as a Leeds fan so having a cup run is something I would like to see. With my pregame video, I just wanted Leeds to go out and do their best and see what happened. 

Team: Meslier, Ayling, Llorente, Hjelde, Bate, Greenwood, Klich, Koch, Harrison, James and Firpo.

Subs: Raphinha for Greenwood (45), Dallas for Bate (45), Forshaw for Ayling (60), Drameh for Firpo (69), Summerville for Hjelde (78).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Jenkins, Moore, McCarron.

Leeds lost the game 2-0.

Attendance: 8,500 Leeds fans.

Referee: Stuart Attwell.

Booked: Drameh. 

Despite all our injuries, I thought we’d managed to get a decent enough side out despite that. We had to thank Luke Ayling for clearing the ball off the line to prevent them taking an early lead though.  Then Leeds saw their first chance on target from Bate which was saved by their keeper. After West Ham had a further chance, they took the lead which once again proved to be in controversial circumstances. It looked like Hjelde had managed to clear the ball only for West Ham to win it back to put the ball into the net. As Leeds started to appeal it looked like VAR was looking at the goal but took a very long time before making a decision that the goal was to stand. News filtered through to us fans that one of their players had been offside in the build-up before getting involved which meant he was offside, and the goal should have been disallowed.  The decision did not surprise me as we had hardly any decisions going our way which once again meant that we had an uphill battle on our hands. As usual one of their players went down “injured” to time waste and initially the referee told him to get up which he did, before going straight back down and the trainers came on. As he was near the touchline, he should have gone off the pitch for treatment which would put paid to time wasting but also, should have been made to go off the pitch there after treatment instead of going to the side of the pitch. The opposition dictating the game instead of the referee springs to mind. Going in one goal down at half time at least it meant we were still in the game.

For all those fellas who couldn’t be bothered to use the male toilets but used the ladies at halftime, it’s just not on. Although I caught a few with photos coming out of one of them, sadly there were loads more that couldn’t be bothered to give us some respect and use their own loos. 

With substitutions made at the start of the second half, I was happy that this time in a cup game we had given the youngsters a chance before bringing on more experience rather than the other way round. That said it was West Ham who forced Meslier to make the first save of the half. When the referee booked Drameh for an innocuous foul I thought he’d lost the plot especially as the more West Ham went down, the more free kicks were given by the referee. In my opinion, once we never get any decisions given our way, it does make things harder for us in our performance. I thought Hjelde had played very well before he was subbed off. When Firpo was down having had a clash of heads with Meslier earlier, there was a commotion as stewards started moving fans away from the partition behind us which caused a lot of issues.

Leeds did come close to having a chance to equalise with a good move, but the final shot went over the bar. West Ham had a further chance, but Leeds never gave up fighting until the final whistle. When Meslier came up for our corner I knew the game would either go with us getting an equaliser and forcing extra time and penalties or they would break away and score a second goal. As it was, the latter happened, and it was game over. 

Back to the same ground next week for our league game, I’ll make sure I leave home by 4.30am to give me plenty of time to get to Leeds for the coach. I don’t need any additional self-inflicted stress on me as things are stressful enough. At least my recovery period at the game has worked on that score, see you next week, LUFC – Marching on Together!