Leeds United v Middlesbrough 31st August 2018 at Elland Road

As my granddaughter Laura and I headed to Elland Road for the near sell out clash, I found I literally had to drag myself there. It was a real effort as I felt that bad but I realised that work overload issues had affected me more than I’d have ever thought. With the Peacock buzzing and everyone in high spirits, I knew that my Leeds United family and team would come to the rescue. To the lad in the Peacock who hadn’t found my Stoke photos, the link to them is here https://www.followmeandleedsunited.co.uk/stoke-city-5th-august-2018-at-elland-road so hopefully you will find the photo you are looking for. With my daughter Dani as well, we headed into the ground early as we knew there would be queues. My friends Sue and Paul were still stuck in traffic at that point so hopefully they made it for kick off.

The team were: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Ayling, Cooper, Klich, Alioski, Saiz, Roofe, Harrison, Phillips and Douglas.  Subs were: Jansson for Berardi (88), Bamford for Roofe (90) and Dallas for Harrison (90+2). The game ended in a 0-0 draw which saw Leeds remain at the top of the league going into the International break. Attendance was 35,417 with 2,322 Boro fans.

Today was always going to be a tough one with this top of the table clash with Boro being in second place. I wasn’t sure how this would go as all the talk was of Boro having some very tall players in their side. I liked what Bielsa had to say in his press conference though, he comes across very humble but is looking at what he has to do to try and win the game and it is very refreshing to hear him speak. I knew then that we may do something different at times tonight. As the game kicked off, I thought at times we looked a bit nervous and we started to do the long ball as well as our passing being a bit short. I thought we needed to play to our strengths and pass the ball between us and once we settled down, I thought we handled the game very well. We had another atrocious referee who was booking our players left, right and centre whereas a Boro player actually got booked for dissent rather than the foul. One foul on Harrison should have warranted a card but lo and behold that one was play on. With the whole ground in good voice, it lent to the atmosphere which was great to hear from a packed Elland Road. Peacock-Farrell made a great save from Jonny Howson and then we had Ayling’s header kicked off the goal line. When Roofe went down in the penalty area the ref waved play on.  At half time I was told that both teams should have had a penalty although I couldn’t remember a specific incident for Boro.

The second half continued with end to end football. Boro were proving tough opposition which wasn’t unexpected and I was hoping our fitness levels would get us there in the end. Peacock-Farrell made a great save to deny them and Harrison had a great shot that went just wide. I thought he played very well today as there had only been flashes of brilliance against Preston on Tuesday. Game time I’m sure is what he has been lacking. We started attacking a lot and with one move, Saiz had the ball and should have sent a first time ball out to Alioski on the wing next to him. Unfortunately he kept hold of the ball for longer than he needed and when he did pass it, Alioski had strayed offside. I thought we were going to stick with the same team and not bring on any subs. When Berardi went down injured in the penalty area in front of the South Stand, the trainer didn’t come on to the pitch and he carried on. He didn’t last long after that and as I saw him limping, Bielsa was already on it and Jansson was coming on to the pitch to replace him. With the last kick of the game, we won a free kick just outside the box but weren’t able to put the ball into the net. What celebrations there would have been if it had gone in? As it was we had to settle for a point but I was happy to take that. We remain unbeaten going into the International Break and then we head to Millwall where last year they kicked our unbeaten run into touch.

After seeing that the Children’s Heart Surgery Fund (CHSF) will be the club’s Charity of the Year for the 2018/19 season all I can say is, this is a worthwhile charity and I look forward to seeing how Leeds United support them over the season. As my daughter Charlotte died from congenital heart disease at 17 days old, I know exactly what families go through and wouldn’t wish the pain on anyone. If she’d have been sent to Leeds at the time, there was the chance she would have been able to live a normal life. Sadly she never got that.

See you at Millwall, LUFC – Marching on Together!

Heidi Haigh – A fanatical Leeds United supporter of over 50 years

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

The Sleeping Giant Awakens, Leeds United 2016-17

OUT NOW! Back to Reality, Leeds United 2017-18