West Bromwich Albion (WBA) v Leeds United 29th December 2020 at The Hawthorns

After being out for most of the afternoon I thought I had better check the kick-off time for the game as I’d assumed it was 8pm. Mm, it’s a good job I did otherwise I’d have missed a one-sided game with Leeds hammering WBA 5-0.

Team: Meslier, Ayling, Alioski, Dallas, Bamford, Klich, Rodrigo, Raphinha, Harrison, Struijk and Phillips. Subs: Shackleton for Klich (58), Hernandez for Rodrigo (70) and Costa for Raphinha (81). Subs not used: Casilla, Roberts, Davis, Jenkins, Casey and Poveda. Leeds won the game 5-0 with an own goal by Sawyers (9), Alioski (31), Harrison (36), Rodrigo (40) and Raphinha (72) being the scorers of our goals. Attendance: Zero – behind closed doors. Referee: Lee Mason.

After the tense game against Burnley, one of my comments to others was that grinding out results shows we are a good team. Having had the privilege of watching the great Don Revie side, many times we had to do the same to get the points.

A fantastic cross from Rodrigo across the box saw no one far enough up the pitch to knock it into the net. The game turned on its head with a spectacular own goal nine minutes into the game when a long back pass was put straight into the goal with the keeper out of the goalmouth. That was just the start we needed. Leeds continued to attack and a through ball from Klich didn’t get to our man but maybe he’d have been better having a go himself as a gap had opened up in front of him. WBA had a rare attack, but it was great back up from Dallas to nip the ball off their toes in the penalty area to put the ball out for a corner to them. A good shot from long range by Phillips was saved by their keeper. Dallas with a good bit of play down the wing saw the final cross blocked. Bamford passed the ball to Harrison who beat their man but sent a shot wide with two men coming down the middle. It is always worth trying a shot but also a chip to one of the two players steaming in may have resulted in a goal.

As it was, we did not have long to wait for a second goal with a great cross from Raphinha over to Alioski who went on to smack a fantastic strike into the net to double our lead on 31 minutes. Leeds were now on a roll and a fantastic goal from Harrison made it three five minutes later. I thought Alioski looked like he had blood around his mouth before realising he was bleeding from his nose and had to go off to get a clean shirt and get seen to. I hadn’t seen anything happen so hopefully someone will enlighten me in due course. Things were happening thick and fast as Leeds got a fourth with a deflected Rodrigo goal on 40 minutes. Wow fantastic Leeds as the game was very one sided, we were playing so well, and it was well deserved. Just after that Alioski was booked when diving in on their player. I wondered if that was a bit of retaliation and maybe he was the one who did something to him? Just before the break a Raphinha shot was pushed out by the keeper just missing Harrison as they cleared the ball. A 4-0 score line at half time showed how dominant Leeds had been. It was too much for Sam Allardyce who had only just taken over as manager, as he went down the tunnel before the whistle blew.

At the start of the second half there should have been a booking for a foul on the back of Raphinha’s calf, but WBA got away with it. They came out with a bit more fight in them and won a corner but from that, Leeds won a free kick with a blatant push on Harrison. As the commentators were wondering if Leeds would still push for further goals, I knew the answer would be yes and the best form of defence is attack. A good run forwards saw Bamford’s shot deflected for a corner, but this was cleared by WBA. It was quite funny seeing their player fall and sit on the ball when trying to attack as Leeds came away with the ball. As I shouted keep the comedy act up it didn’t quite work out that way. As we played out from the box the back pass to Meslier put him under pressure and he passed a short ball out to our player that WBA got to first. As their player took the ball forward Meslier made a first save, then a second one, as we cleared the ball. Klich was down getting treatment and then went off with Shackleton brought on as a substitute.

There was some good defending from Rodrigo before WBA got another corner. This time Leeds broke away putting pressure on WBA before Hernandez replaced Rodrigo. I was a little mystified when WBA had a throw in as I thought Meslier with plenty of time and space around him was going to pick the ball up. Suddenly he kicked it out for another throw in. That got me thinking, was he not allowed to pick the ball up for a throw in or did he get confused? As far as I was concerned the keeper could pick the ball up unless there has been a rule change, I wasn’t aware of? It didn’t really matter though because shortly afterwards, Raphinha made it five with a fantastic run down the wing and then across the box with a sweetly struck strike into the top left-hand corner of the goal. Leeds were still looking to attack and a great ball from Hernandez through to Dallas saw Leeds win a corner. Ayling was unlucky as he shot over the bar from the corner. Another good run this time from Alioski saw him pass to Harrison and his cross saw a great shot from Bamford hit their player and go out for a corner. Bamford despite not one of the scorers today lost the ball but then fought and won it back but there was a WBA player down so Leeds put the ball out so he could receive treatment. Raphinha was replaced by Costa but the former was extremely disappointed not to be staying on the pitch. A great cross from Harrison evaded everyone and was just out of reach of Struijk coming in at the far post trying to get to the ball. A bad pass from Hernandez gave WBA a chance but offered no threat as their shot went way over the top of the goal. A couple more Leeds attacks saw firstly a good run from Ayling, but the final ball was cleared and then some good play between Dallas and Hernandez. There were only two minutes of injury time on the clock which surprised me but then I thought the referee wouldn’t want to prolong the agony for WBA. As Leeds started going backwards towards our goal, I was shouting don’t go back we want six, as the whistle went for full time. What a result Leeds, thoroughly deserved and giving us another three points.

When this year started, I was glad to see the back of 2019 when my husband had a battle with cancer. As the year draws to a close and I reflect on 2020, little did I know this year was going to see Leeds United promoted back to the Premier League and we as fans were not allowed to be there in person to witness it. The Covid-19 Coronavirus pandemic has meant an incredibly challenging time for everyone and I really hope that we can get back to some normality sooner rather than later. Leeds United lost three of our legends in Norman Hunter, Trevor Cherry and Big Jack Charlton as well as many Leeds United fans throughout the year with some not even knowing we had achieved our dream of promotion. My thoughts go out to family and friends of all those who died.

Going forwards into 2021, I really thought our 2nd January trip to Spurs would see away fans back at games as I was looking forward to going to a new ground. Obviously, that won’t happen, and neither will the visit to Crawley too in the FA Cup the week after. I can’t wait to be amongst our fans again and want to wish you all a Happy New Year and a better year in 2021. LUFC – Marching on Together!