Derby play off second leg 15th May 2019
Photos from Derby play off second leg 15th May 2019. How good it will be to see our fans back in the ground. How I’ve missed this.
16th May 1973. It does not seem so long ago that I was travelling to Greece for my first European away trip to follow Leeds to the European Cup Winner’s Cup Final in Salonika. The injustices of losing the game with a bribed referee in place, means that I still will never forgive or forget what happened that night. The Greeks in the ground at the end of the game were fantastic with their support of Leeds as they were already aware of the bribe that had taken place whereas us Leeds fans were not. We were in an open-air stadium, all sat on the large stone steps in a torrential downpour and the only dry patches were where we had been sitting. After the game, the Greeks were clamouring for any Leeds memorabilia, so I hung my scarf out of the coach window for a group to fight over and I am glad I had the opportunity to be there.
As I have missed out on tickets once again in the second ballot for the West Brom game, it was good to see a few fans who had not missed a game for at least 40 years being successful this time around. It will be good to get back to normal next season and have my season tickets in place because I know if I must apply for any, then I am never successful. Whilst it will be weird seeing fans back in the ground at Elland Road, I am sure the atmosphere will be second to none as we show other fans how it should be done.
Seeing Alioski’s gesture from our game at Burnley has been reported, I despair that others did not see it as a childish reaction of blowing raspberries at their player but was seen to be something else. With Koch and Klich given early leave due to their forthcoming involvement in the European Championships playing for their countries, I am glad that they both ended the season on a high with an excellent performance. Bielsa had made three changes to the team today with Casilla, Cooper and Rodrigo starting the game. This will also be the first game since Christmas with fans in attendance although no away fans were allowed only 8,000 Southampton fans.
Team: Casilla, Cooper, Ayling, Llorente, Phillips, Bamford, Raphinha, Rodrigo, Dallas, Harrison and Alioski. Subs: Berardi for Llorente (45), Struijk for Phillips (45) and Roberts for Rodrigo (79).
Subs not used: Meslier, Hernandez, Davis, Shackleton, Jenkins and Poveda. Leeds won the game 2-0 with goals from Bamford (73) and Roberts with his first Premier League goal (90+4). Attendance: 8,000 Southampton fans. Referee: Peter Bankes, (David Coote VAR). Booked: Phillips, Struijk and Dallas.
Southampton put Leeds under pressure from the off with Casilla making a good save within the first couple of minutes. Vital defending from Phillips saw the ball deflect off their player forcing Casilla to make the save but the flag went up for offside anyway. Southampton buoyed by their fans in attendance and because they were playing Leeds had upped their game. With one of their players and Llorente challenging for the ball, although there was no shoulder charge the referee gave a free kick because their player went down. Cooper defending well put the ball out for a corner. When Leeds won a corner around the 15-minute mark, the stadium was deathly quiet despite fans being there. When Harrison challenged for the ball and their player stayed down, the commentators were saying it was a definite booking, but no card was shown.
Southampton attacked and with their player nearly through, Casilla had come out of goal but the ball was eventually cleared by Cooper. A great cross from Harrison was cleared for a throw to Leeds before an Ayling shot was well wide. With the team playing 1, 3, 3, 3, 1 it felt like Bielsa was trying to experiment with a different formation. Another good move saw a Harrison cross back headed from Raphinha to Dallas who shot wide. It will come Leeds, it will come. Phillips took a Leeds corner but Llorente’s header was wide. Although it had been a quiet 30 minutes so far with the formation not really working for me, Bielsa had to try something different sometime. Southampton tried claiming for a penalty against Harrison, but nothing was given.
Casilla’s distribution was different to Meslier although he hadn’t done anything wrong, but the first half hadn’t been great so far. Llorente was hit off the ball but when play stopped their player wasn’t booked but Phillips was for an earlier foul. Another save from Casilla put the ball out for a corner and then they shot over the bar. Rodrigo shot wide before Southampton attacked again with the ball bouncing across our area just missing their players. It was noticeable that their players were falling down at the drop of a hat but with one minute time added on, the scores were level at half time.
My thoughts were that Bielsa would change things at the start of the second half and Berardi making his Premier League debut and Struijk came on to replace Llorente and Phillips respectively. Southampton were awarded a free kick in a good position outside the area and the ball hit the angle of the cross bar and post. Leeds started to step up the pressure with first Dallas having a shot saved by the keeper then we were unlucky with another couple of shots blocked. When their player went down in our penalty area, my heart sank but then handball was given against them. Southampton tried again when their player was hardly touched, but he went down like a sack of potatoes that looked like a dive and a free kick was given just to the left of our box. Their player looked up to see what the referee had given and then stayed down.
Bamford was unlucky not to score when he rounded their keeper, but the ball was put out for a corner. As the keeper caught him, the commentators said that if Bamford would have gone down it was a penalty also saying Bielsa would not be happy with him. They do not know Bielsa then! Bamford went to head the ball after good work from Harrison then collided with their player. The trainers came on to the pitch as Bamford required plenty of treatment and was down for a while. The Southampton players looked to be diving all over the place. Good defending from Ayling and then when our attack broke down, Struijk was booked as he stopped their player from running out of defence. Some great play from Raphinha once again saw him cross to Alioski who shot straight at the keeper who saved it. Dallas hit a shot over the crossbar before Leeds took the lead. A great goal from Bamford after beating the offside trap saw him put the ball through the keeper’s legs with 18 minutes left. I knew he would not want to go off earlier when he was injured as he made a record with that goal. Bamford will become only the fourth Leeds player to register 10 away goals in the Premier League in a single season.
Southampton had a long-range shot put wide by Casilla and their corner came to nothing. Some great skill from Raphinha saw his final shot over the bar though it was not far off target. Roberts replaced Rodrigo as it was noted how poor the atmosphere from the Southampton fans was. Raphinha put the ball into the net but Bamford had been flagged offside in the build-up. Some nice play from Roberts saw him brought down and a free kick awarded to Leeds before Southampton had another couple of shots, one wide and another over the top. With six minutes time added on Southampton made a final push for an equaliser with a shot on the turn that looked to be on target but was well wide in the end. Cooper was then penalised, and a free kick awarded to Southampton. Straight out of defence from this with a fantastic throw from Casilla to Raphinha, he passed to Roberts who could not get his shot in. The ball came to Bamford who had a great shot saved by their keeper; when the ball came back out to Roberts, he scored his first Premier League goal deep into injury time to give us a two-goal cushion. Struijk had received treatment from the trainers and went off to the side of the pitch. The final attack from Leeds saw a great run from Harrison then Bamford, before Raphinha shot only to see it saved by their keeper. Leeds pulled the game around in the second half which gave them another three points guaranteeing a top half finish. Being in eighth place after the game was a great achievement in our first season back in the big time. Although I did not expect anything else, Leeds have done us proud. With the final game of the season upon us and with some fans back in the ground, this will be the first game Leeds have played in front of a crowd since our win against Huddersfield on 7th March 2020. LUFC – Marching on Together!