Leeds United v Southampton 2nd April 2022 at Elland Road

Southampton H 2nd April 2022

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I’d like to say a big thank you to all those fans I spoke to today, your comments, thoughts and support meant so much to me, especially as I was struggling emotionally. What better compliment could I have but be told by Connor from Ireland, that he feels like he is at a game with me when reading my blogs? Having a game today was the best tonic and being around my football family is an important aspect of that for me. Thank you to Jay Mooney for handing over my signed home Leeds United shirt from Colin Murray from BBC Radio 5 Live. This was organised as an act of kindness when I appeared on a recent false pretences interview with them. I was also given a signed away shirt too due to it taking a while for me to receive the shirt, so I am very grateful to have received these. Thank you to Brummie for buying my book United Are Back Season 2020/21 Back in the Premier League Behind Closed Doors. Also thank you to Mick Glasby one of our Nottingham Whites for buying our LUFC Songs Recording CD despite not owning a CD player at the moment. This is a piece of history memorabilia with all profits going to the Leeds United Academy/Foundation once they are all sold. Thank you for the support as always which is greatly appreciated.

With the sad anniversaries of the murders of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight in Istanbul as well as the sudden death of my baby daughter, their memories will always stay alive. What a fantastic tribute to see, that started in the South Stand with banners and flags remembering the lads before an enormous number of fans all around the ground, joined in to turn their backs for Chris and Kev. This gesture was done by fans at the time in the ground when Leeds were forced to play the game which should never have gone ahead. I was supposed to go to the game but chickened out as I was too scared to go. Rest in Peace and thoughts with the family and friends of the lads for the anniversary on Tuesday.

Team: Meslier, Cooper (captain after returning from injury), Ayling, Dallas, Klich, Rodrigo, Raphinha, James, Llorente, Harrison and Forshaw.

Subs: Gelhardt for James (59), Phillips for Klich (65), Struijk for Ayling (89).

Subs not used: Klaesson, Koch, Cresswell, Summerville, Greenwood, Kenneh.

Leeds drew the game 1-1 with Harrison scoring for Leeds (29).

Attendance: 36,580 with 2,690 Southampton fans.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.

Booked: Ayling.

There was a good atmosphere around the ground buoyed by our last-minute wins in the games against Norwich and away to Wolves, hoping to build on these. Leeds looked determined from the start winning an early corner and continuing to have shots blocked. With Raphinha and James having shots blocked, Southampton launched their own attack, often in lots of space down the left-hand side of the pitch towards the Kop. Leeds did get the ball into the net only to see the goal disallowed after Raphinha’s corner hit the post and Harrison followed through to score. If Harrison was disappointed to see the goal chalked off, it didn’t take long for him to put the ball into the net again after sheer persistence from Leeds after great work from Raphinha. We had Dallas to thank for a great stop on the line and Meslier making a save to keep them out as we went in at half time with the one goal lead.

Our half time discussions were that Southampton didn’t look very good despite their attacking but as my friend Carole pointed out, they could shoot from anywhere especially Ward-Prowse. That prophecy proved poetic when they won a free kick outside the penalty area when at least four of our players battling to win the ball back, were judged to have committed a foul. As the wall was lining up and Meslier was telling them where he wanted them, as their backs were turned, their player moved the ball a few feet to the right. As the free kick was taken, it had a wicked curve on it that ended up in the top left-hand corner of the goal, just out of Meslier’s reach. With them equalising on 49 minutes, that seemed to galvanise them as they had come out a different team from the first half. They nearly took the lead a short time after this which would have been hard on Leeds but then we did manage to up our game and keep trying to come forward in attack. With first Gelhardt coming on and then Phillips making his return from his long injury, we did come close to scoring with a Dallas shot. We kept trying, but after the referee not letting any trainer on to the pitch in the first half, he suddenly let the Southampton players have treatment numerous times when they started dropping like flies. If they’d have been behind at this point, I doubt that would have happened. When one player received treatment, he stayed on the pitch which mystified many of us. There is definitely no consistency on rules anymore that’s for sure. After another one went down, the referee went straight over to the side of the pitch and booked Marsch for shouting at him. As the whistle blew, it felt a bit flat after the exhilarating endings of the last two games, but the positives were that we got a welcome point and had seen the return of both Cooper and Phillips to the side.

Next week sees the trip to Watford with my overriding memory of I think the last time we played them there, us singing we’d spoilt their party. See you there, LUFC – Marching on Together!