Brighton H 15th May 2022
Leeds United 72 Legends – LUST, LUSCOS, LEEDS UNITED AMERICAS 12.5.22
It has been a busy few days for me, with another early morning call for an interview with BBC Radio Five Live as well as being invited to attend the Leeds United 1972 FA Cup Final legends with the unveiling of plaques in the East Stand from the Leeds United Supporters Trust, LUSCOS and LUAmericas. As I had a great conversation with Allan Clarke and Mick Jones, I used Sniffer’s motivational comments as part of my pre-game reel. Once they were on the pitch, they gave 100% and would die for Leeds United and we needed the team to go out and make us proud.
I got to Leeds very early today as I was meeting Jørn from Denmark as well as the Malta Whites at Billy’s statue pre-game. Jørn was collecting items for the Leeds United Museum that they are creating in Denmark and thank you for buying my book Leeds Are Going to the Premier League. Thanks also to the Malta Whites for buying the other four of my books after previously buying the others, Follow Me and Leeds United, Back to Reality, United Are Back and Leeds Are Going to the Premier League and Tonio for United Are Back.. Also thank you to those who bought the Leeds United songs recording CDs. Allan Clarke is going to play the CDs when driving to the Lake District and I will look forward to getting feedback from him in the future. As always, the support is greatly appreciated. After a visit to the Peacock, it was nice catching up with fans before I headed into the ground. As I was stood outside the turnstiles, the lead steward took pity on me and scanned my season ticket before letting me through the doors into the stand rather than struggling through the turnstiles with my “baggage”.
Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente, Firpo, Phillips, Raphinha, Harrison, Rodrigo, Gelhardt, Klich and Koch.
Subs: Shackleton for Koch (68), Shackleton for Firpo (83), Greenwood for Klich (83).
Subs not used: Klaesson, Cresswell, Gray, Bate, Hjelde, Kenneh.
Leeds drew the game 1-1 with Struijk equalising for Leeds (90).
Attendance: 36,638 with 1,986 Brighton fans.
Referee: Mike Dean.
Booked: Firpo, Rodrigo, Cooper.
A minute’s applause was held before the game started for all those Leeds United fans who have died this season. RIP. Leeds started off brightly for the first 10 minutes when Brighton after sitting back, started to look dangerous. We were often wide open on the left-hand side of the pitch from the Kop, and luckily for us Meslier was in top form making some vital saves to keep them from scoring. Sadly, we were unable to keep them out as they scored a goal when getting past our defence. Although that was a blow, it took a while to start getting forward again but had a great chance from a corner when the ball went to Klich on the edge of the box. Hitting a shot that brought a save from their keeper gave a bit of hope with a shot on target. Brighton’s time wasting had begun very early on in the game with players dropping like flies sometimes with very little contact but were given many free kicks by the referee. Ensuring we didn’t let any more goals in before half time was important for me as we ensured we went in only a goal down.
The second half started well with pressure from Leeds but without getting any shots on target and as the half wore on, with mistakes happening, the crowd started to get restless. As another pass went astray, Elland Road started to become toxic as chants from all around the ground started for Marcelo Bielsa then sack the board, sell the club and f**k off home and this is on you Radrizzani. To be honest, the crowd have been very supportive of the team all season despite results and or performances going against us but after a short lull with the subs coming on, both the crowd and the players responded with a battling performance. Raphinha brought a save out of their keeper before he combined with Gelhardt to see another shot trickling past the wrong side of the post. As the team started battling, Elland Road became a frenzied bear pit with the fans urging them on as the noise reached a fever pitch crescendo. Gelhardt saw his shot go wide before he made another chance with some brilliant footwork in the penalty area. His cross to the far post saw Struijk rise into the air to head the ball into the net to equalise at the end of normal time which saw Elland Road erupting with noise and celebrations. What an important goal that was to keep Leeds within a fighting chance of staying in the Premier League. We had shouts for a penalty with handball when half of the bench nearly ended up on the pitch too, but the referee refused to look at VAR. At the final whistle the team walked around the pitch to rapturous applause, and I am so glad the relegation places were not decided today.
This morning I had resigned myself to relegation and was quite calm. Once I arrived at Elland Road, my stomach started churning and I wasn’t ready to accept it. What I said to someone on social media this morning was that my feelings can change very quickly once they are on the pitch. If I lower my expectations the reverse psychology may work better. I even saw a lone magpie before the game too, so I think my methods worked lol. With Everton and Burnley still having a game in hand, the last relegation spot is still to be decided although when I looked at the table on the Leeds website earlier it had Everton with 39 points so assumed they’d won. It’s now been changed so we have even more hope especially as they had two men sent off. We go to Brentford for the last game of the season next week and we will know what we have to do to stay up by then. Although the outcome still isn’t in our hands, at least we still have hope at the moment. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!