Watford H 2nd October 2021
I would like to wish Jack Daniel who has been battling cancer for the last year or so, a fantastic 15th birthday tomorrow. Hopefully he will receive lots of cards from our fantastic Leeds support to put a smile on his face.
After a trip to a and e this morning with one family member, then another one who was coming to the game with us taken ill, it meant a change to our travel plans. Because of this we went straight into the ground but luckily just as the teams were coming on to the pitch. Today was a game where three points were a must.
Team: Meslier, Cooper, Llorente (back from injury), Shackleton, Dallas, Rodrigo, Raphinha, James, Klich, Firpo and Phillips.
Subs: Roberts for Dallas (injured 78), Struijk for Klich (90+2).
Subs not used: Klaesson, Harrison, Cresswell, Hjelde, Gelhardt, Greenwood, McKinstry.
Leeds won the game 1-0 with Llorente scoring for Leeds (18).
Attendance: 36,261 with approx. 1,494 Watford fans.
Referee: Simon Hooper.
Leeds set off on the attack and saw both James and Raphinha’s shots blocked before Dallas had a shot saved by their keeper. Leeds took an early lead after Llorente hit the ball from close range into the net from a corner. Leeds should have been awarded a penalty a couple of minutes later when James was brought down from behind in the penalty area. Where was VAR having a look at it because once again there wasn’t a peep from it? If James had been wearing the colours of that team across the Pennines, there was no doubt in my mind that VAR would have looked at the challenge again! The referee should have given a couple of Watford players early bookings for the many fouls on our players, but he left it until late in the second half to give them their first yellow card. When a Watford player threw himself to the floor in the penalty area in front of us, play was waved on. As we were shouting at him to get up, Watford won the ball back but then blasted the ball over the bar. Watford were then guilty of time wasting as their players dropped like flies as they tried to slow the game down. There was just time for Klich to come close with a shot that went narrowly wide before the whistle blew for half-time.
The second half saw Leeds continue to attack with Dallas having a couple of chances. Twice Firpo saw an opening appear in front of him in a good position outside the box, but instead of shooting he passed the ball to the side. It was a shame that he didn’t have a go because from where I was stood in the Kop, it looked like he had a clear view of the goal with only the keeper to beat. No doubt, he was following orders though. After having the majority of the game, Watford had a rare attack which brought a save from Meslier resulting in him taking a knock. There was always a danger Watford could get back into the game with us only have a one goal lead and from the corner, they hit the ball into the net when Meslier dropped the ball. Luckily for us, Watford were penalised for a foul on Cooper, and it was disallowed. There was no way we could let them score and get back into the game. Roberts came on as a sub and had a great run down the left-hand side, but his cross was cut out, stopping Raphinha from getting the ball. Leeds came so close to getting that second goal when Phillips’ free kick was spilled by their keeper. Roberts saw his shot cleared off the line before his second shot rebounded back off the crossbar, as Watford got the ball away. With four minutes injury time put on the clock, Bielsa was determined to see Leeds get our first win of the season and brought Struijk on to see the game out. Shackleton had been impressive and Rodrigo and Raphinha had both run their socks off again. To be honest, no one had a bad game for me as Leeds had dominated most of it. It was lovely to see all our young players come off the bench at the end of the game to say well done to the players. It was nice to catch up with my friend Linda and her daughter. Linda is one of my friends on the iconic photo from the Daily Express in 1975 that is the front cover of my book Follow Me and Leeds United. Friends for life!
The three points were very welcome going into the international break and allowed Leeds to climb out of the bottom three. I’m looking forward to the start of us climbing the table after the break. See you then, LUFC – Marching on Together!