Brentford A 22nd May 2022
Thorp Arch visit with Nikki re SAB 16th May 2022
Thorp Arch visit with Nikki re SAB 16th May 2022
My message this morning was for us to ‘Keep Fighting’ until the final whistle, play for the shirt, play for themselves and most of all to play for us fans. Having seen Cooper, Struijk and Phillips at Thorp Arch on Tuesday, I’d told them to go out, do their best, and we would be there to support them. Euphoric scenes at the end of the game with an electric atmosphere and celebrations with the team, showed us that is what happened as Leeds retained our Premier League status at the death with a goal by Harrison ensuring we got a win. With Burnley losing, it was still tight at the bottom with a few minutes left and we were willing them not to equalise against Newcastle. For once in our lives, things went our way and I think my looking to the skies and praying for a result in our favour as we got back on the coach at Holborn, actually worked!
Team: Meslier, Cooper, Firpo, Llorente, Koch, Harrison, Raphinha, Phillips, Rodrigo, Gelhardt and Greenwood (making his first Premier League start).
Subs: Struijk for Gelhardt (71), Klich for Greenwood (85)
Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, Bate, Hjelde, Roberts, Shackleton and Gray.
Leeds won the game 2-1 with Raphinha (penalty 56) and Harrison (90+3) scoring the goals.
Attendance: 16,957with 1,725 Leeds fans.
Referee: Paul Tierney.
It was nice to add another new ground today to the list I’ve been to and although their old ground Griffin Park was traditionally old school, I liked this one even though the capacity is still quite small. With the stands bathed in sunshine, there was a great atmosphere around it. I’d a great view and was sent photos by fans in Australia, Norway and America who saw me on the TV prior to kick off. Thanks for that. I did keep thinking the coloured seats looked like cardboard cut outs though. We built up a good rapport with a Brentford fan who was from Yorkshire who did his best to keep us updated on the Burnley situation. The only thing that had a bit of a downer for me was when I somehow upset a long-standing Leeds fan when I asked for a photo. I have no problem with anyone refusing as I will always comply with their wishes, but as I’ve taken photos of the couple before I felt I had to say sorry to his wife if I had caused any upset.
The game kicked off with Brentford on the attack and plenty of end-to-end football, but scores stayed level. With approximately 20 minutes gone, Leeds attacked the other end when Gelhardt after a great pass from Harrison, sent a great ball into the net to take the lead. After lots of celebrations from us and the team at the far end of the ground, I suddenly realised that VAR was looking at our goal. As the Brentford fans cheered, we saw the goal was disallowed for offside which felt like things were going against us once again, A few minutes later Leeds fans started cheering and going nuts as we received confirmation that Newcastle had taken the lead against Burnley. When I’d heard we were playing in a figure of 8 today, it was good to see that Phillips was back in front of the back four in his strongest position. Meslier was called into action when he tipped a great shot over the bar to prevent Brentford taking the lead. Luckily for us they shot wide when in a good position to leave the scores still level at half time.
Brentford had the first chance of the second half when Meslier saved from their player before Leeds came back at them with the final shot from Rodrigo saved by their keeper after some good play from Raphinha. Leeds were sent a lifeline when Raphinha had his legs taken from him and we were awarded a penalty. I kept saying, don’t miss, don’t miss and although Raphinha seemed to take a long time and nearly stopped, he sent a great penalty into the net to put us into the lead. A few minutes later we heard Newcastle had scored again as things seemed to be going our way. Burnley then pulled a goal back, so it wasn’t over yet. When Struijk replaced Gelhardt who took an earlier knock, we looked to have committed suicide by starting to go backwards to Meslier instead of moving the ball forwards. It didn’t take long before they got theit equaliser as I screamed that the best form of defence is attack and don’t start passing back to Meslier. Having used all their substitutes, Brentford were already down to 10 men when one of their players was injured and had to go off. I hadn’t realised their scorer Canos had been booked for his goal celebrations, only to receive a booking for bringing Raphinha down shortly afterwards. Suddenly realising they were down to nine men I assumed another had gone off injured only to find out he had been sent off, oops! Despite being down to nine men though, Brentford were still putting us under pressure as the end of the game loomed. As Brentford fans started cheering again it sounded like Burnley had got an equaliser only for other Leeds fans to confirm they were still losing 2-1. It felt too close for comfort as I kept taking deep breaths to keep calm. Until those final whistles blew, nothing could be taken for granted that’s for sure.
As injury time approached, Leeds started to get the better of Brentford and started attacking with that never say die attitude I asked for. When the ball came to Harrison outside the box, he hit a shot that deflected into the back of the net to send the Leeds fans and team wild as celebrations ensued. With Leeds now back in the lead, it meant we needed it to stay that way until the final whistle. As I was wondering how we would know when the final whistle went at Turf Moor, the referee blew the whistle for our game as everyone on the Leeds bench launched themselves onto the pitch, which was the cue for everyone to go mad on the terraces as it meant we were safe and staying up. Fantastic celebrations with the players and fans were savoured and it was lovely seeing young Charlie Cresswell singing Marching on Together with the fans with such gusto. It was a wonderful feeling that for once in our lives, things had gone our way. Too many times things have gone the wrong way so I didn’t dare think it would work out for us as I couldn’t be positive, just in case I jinxed things. As I’d said a few times earlier to fans, I was using reverse psychology as I had to expect the worst so anything else was a bonus. This all stems from my superstitions that started in the Don Revie era, but with my stomach churning and nerves going into overdrive before the game there was no way I wanted to jeopardise anything.
As one of my friends was in an ambulance for 30 minutes of the first half and should in reality have gone to hospital, another was in a bad way at half time too. The stress we have all been under shows just how much supporting Leeds United means to us fans, but now we can actually just relax, savour the moment and enjoy the fantastic scenes at the end of the game. Seeing and experiencing so much happiness alongside smiling Leeds fans, certainly helps to give you a boost. Thank you to everyone for your amazing support for my blog with your comments, having photos taken and all the chats that have kept me going and love to you all. Unfortunately, as much as I’d like to, I don’t think I will make the pre-season tour to Australia. If not, I will see you all in August. LUFC – Marching on Together!