Photos by Mark Hutchinson/WACCOE and Kam Mann
The day after my last blog, we received the sad news that Peter Lorimer had died after a long illness and again a few tears were shed. Rest in peace Peter and thanks for the memories, my thoughts are with your family and friends. Having been part of the Kop Committee to raise funds for your testimonial year, you created a special bond with us fans and this has carried on to this day especially with our Norwegian fans. Your goal in Paris means we will always be Champions of Europe – WACCOE!
As the poignant dates of 4th and 5th April come around once again, alongside Peter’s death, it was nice to see the club have a minute’s applause before the game today and wear black armbands. The 4th of April sees the 30th anniversary of the sudden death of my baby daughter at 17 days old from an undiagnosed heart defect. The 5th of April sees the 21st anniversary of the murders of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight in Istanbul the evening before our game against Galatasary. I was due to go to this game but was too scared to go having heard many stories about their fans beforehand; my fears happened in the most horrendous way and my thoughts are with Chris and Kevin’s families and friends at this sad time. There has been some great fund raising going on with Leeds United fans raising monies for flowers for Chris, Kev and Peter from WACCOE and thank you to Mark Hutchinson for sharing his photos. Also, Kam Mann has raised over £4,000 for flags to be made for Chris and Kev and any remaining monies going to Candlelighters. Thank you to Kam for sharing his photos too. Well done to everyone involved and this shows once again that these lads will never be forgotten, and this keeps their memories alive. Adam Pope on BBC Radio Leeds also replayed the 20th anniversary recording with Andy Loftus, Gareth Senior and Alan Green after the game today. These are very harrowing memories from that horrendous night and shows why the lads should never be forgotten.
I was invited on to an Arsenal podcast this week by Tom Pheby who had found me on LinkedIn due to my match reports. I am looking forward to sharing the link in due course and it was good to talk about my passion as a Leeds United supporter with my favourite game being the FA Cup Final in 1972.
Team: Meslier, Cooper (back after illness due to Covid), Llorente, Roberts, Phillips, Dallas, Raphinha, Ayling, Alioski, Bamford and Harrison. Subs: Rodrigo for Bamford (65), Klich for Roberts (81) and Koch for Dallas (92). Subs not used: Casilla, Hernandez, Costa, Poveda, Struijk and Shackleton. Leeds won the game 2-1 with goals from Harrison (12) and a Jagielka own goal (50). Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: G. Scott.
After a Leeds free kick where Raphinha’s shot went over the bar, he was then on hand with a vital interception of a pass at the other end to put the ball out for a corner. With ten minutes gone a long range shot from Phillips was spilt by their keeper but caught on the rebound and he then made another save from Dallas. Leeds then scored a brilliant goal shortly after which started with Llorente, then Roberts before some great footwork from Raphinha in the area to the byline, passed to Harrison at the far post to hit the ball into the net. Sheffield had a couple of attacks, a free kick and a long range shot that went wide before Leeds launched another attack. A cross from Ayling was headed out and Alioski’s shot won Leeds a corner.
Leeds were awarded a free kick after a Sheffield attack but their player thought he should have had the free kick and moaned like hell. There was hardly any contact with him so I’m not sure of the reason why it was given. Roberts was then brought down with a bad challenge, but the referee played advantage. It looked like Harrison would get his second goal of the game, but the final ball was just wide. Although the referee and VAR said no further action was to be taken against the Sheffield player, it should have been a free kick and their player booked at least. With him coming off worse, it felt like him staying down gave him a reprieve. He was replaced just before half time with a concussion substitution which is now allowed apparently. The commentators who stated it wasn’t a nasty challenge between the two players need to open their eyes as it was a bad foul on Roberts and their player is lucky not to have seen a red card. When play resumed, we had been given a corner so Harrison’s shot must have been deflected. I feel this took the sting out of the game as their player was down for a while as at times it felt like a practice match. Just before half time the game picked up again as persistent work from Roberts and then Ayling saw Leeds win another corner. At the other end Leeds cleared the ball from a Sheffield corner, but they won it back to send the ball across our area before we ran forwards again and Roberts had a shot that skimmed past the outer post. Leeds battled to win the ball and came away with it only for their player to grab it deliberately to stop us going forwards which earned him a booking. Sheffield got an equaliser right at the death when the ball came off the back of our player to their player at the far post. Although the shot was kicked out of the goal by Ayling the ball had already crossed the line. Whether we had switched off or not I’m not sure but all of a sudden, they had a man down the right-hand side all on his own. With the final chance of the half Roberts saw his header easily saved by their keeper to keep the score at 1-1.
Sheffield started on the attack in the second half seemingly coming out with a purpose and buoyed by that goal just before half time. Some great play again from Raphinha left their player on the floor and Dallas then shot over. Roberts sent a fantastic ball to Harrison on the left and his cross was put into the goal by a Sheffield defender five minutes after the restart. Dallas saw another shot clip the corner of the crossbar and post. Roberts was playing well, and it looks like the run in the side was doing him good. It looked like he was playing in Klich’s role today so maybe in a different position to normal? We had another good move which saw Alioski hit the ball high and over before another saw Bamford take a touch too many in the penalty area and they won the ball back. Llorente made a great tackle before an Ayling cross for Bamford brought a save from their keeper.
Sheffield counterattacked and won a corner, but we won the ball back and broke out ourselves. Some great work again from Raphinha saw first his shot, then one from Alioski blocked. Great work from Ayling in defence saw him block their shot at the last minute to retain our lead. Rodrigo replaced Bamford who has had a quieter game today. Sheffield started to put more pressure on us and won a free kick even though their defender was behind Alioski although replays showed he had caught him across the face. A poor pass from Phillips saw him chase Sheffield to get the ball back and brought their player down giving away a free kick. Leeds then broke away with four players going forwards and Dallas’s shot was just wide. Roberts was replaced by Klich before some end-to-end football saw the final ball from Harrison unable to get through to Rodrigo in attack. We’d had 21 attempts so far in the game. Having given advantage first, the referee brought the ball back for the free kick and booked Rodrigo for a foul. I’m assuming the difference to the foul on Roberts in the first half was because Sheffield lost possession. Sheffield had another free kick and then had a long range shot that went just wide. They tried again with another long range shot that went just wide but luckily Meslier didn’t touch the ball, so we got the goal kick.
With five minutes time added on Harrison shot wide, then a great ball from Dallas to Raphinha saw Leeds win a corner. Koch made his first appearance since injury when he replaced Dallas and I wondered who he was at first. Rodrigo saw his shot saved by their keeper as the referee played over the five minute’s injury time but finally the whistle went, and Leeds got the win and a welcome three points. As relegation looms for Sheffield United, Leeds moved into 10th place for the moment. With an away game at Manchester City before home games against Liverpool and man utd we are nearing the end of this season. Keep going Leeds, and let us start upsetting the apple cart a little please! LUFC – Marching on Together!