Leeds United 2 Bristol City 2
Supporting Leeds has always been a rollercoaster of emotions but to go through so many emotions in just one game of football is rare even for us!
Ahead of the game I was quietly impressed that new boss Hecky had seemed to come up with the same assessment of the players he sent out at Bramall Lane as we did. So, just as most fans would have done, he dropped Kemar Roofe, Gianni Alioski and Kalvin Phillips. Probably the only surprise was that Eunan O’Kane was spared the axe on the back of his woeful performance but then again the general view is becoming that that there is not a lot to choose between O’Kane, Vieira and Master Phillips all of whom have come up short in recent weeks.
In came Vurnon Anita at full back, releasing Stuart Dallas to play further up the field, again as many fans had suggested ought to happen, while Ekuban got the call to join Lasogga up front and Pablo Hernandez got the start most of us thought he should have had against the Blades. Yes, all in all, that was pretty much what I’d have done having seen how we got caught out last week.
It was then a bit perplexing to put it mildly that this particular XI came out and played just as badly as we did in the opening stages of the game last week! Inside 16 minutes we were two goals down and all over the pitch we looked dire. Felix in goal was having one of those days we know he’s going to have every now and again and his flapping and poor reading of a cross was the major contributor for the first and then five minutes later more farcical defending had us looking down and out as the Robins grabbed a second. Leeds could do nothing right at this stage and it was a miracle we were only 2 goals down at half-time, a half-time heralded by a crescendo of boos as the Elland Road crowd, not for the first time this season, vented their spleens at as inept a performance as we’ve seen in this recent run of particularly inept performances.
The second half began in much the same manner as the first had ended and, as the clock ticked on towards the hour mark, many Leeds fans had clearly given up the ghost. Small sections of the Leeds support began to amuse themselves by sarcastically jeering anything vaguely positive that happened out on the pitch. Felix got much of it with a huge sarcastic roar of mock approval when he safely gathered a mishit shot and again when he managed to launch a clearance down the middle of the pitch and not into the stands. Soon every successful Leeds pass was met with a mocking shout of “Ole!” It was a depressing few moments. But they do say that there is a silver lining in many a cloud and in the midst of our depression something suddenly began to stir inside Elland Road.
First, seemingly in a reaction against the minority that were sarcastically jeering, larger sections of the crowd began to belt out a few Leeds anthems as if to drown out the negativity. It soon gathered momentum and eventually the whole of the Leeds support appeared to be as one as we chanted “WACCOE” and swirled our scarves around our heads non-stop for minutes on end. It had the feeling of a final blast of defiance from the fans as if to tell the millions watching on TV that, however bad things get at Leeds, one thing will always remain intact; the resilience of the Leeds United support. It all had an end of term feel about it too, maybe the realisation was dawning that the dream of a play-off place was now merely that for this season; a dream. Whatever the cause, the effect was unmistakeable; suddenly the Leeds players appeared to be shaken into action. Passes now found White shirts more often than not and the tempo of our play suddenly began to surprise Bristol. Leeds made a couple of substitutions with Roofe and Sacko replacing Ekuban and Dallas and the sight of Sacko tearing down the right wing added to the feeling that Leeds had finally come awake. Lasogga scored in the 72nd minute and once the additional roar of celebration had passed we all carried on with our party in the stands. I don’t think anyone seriously thought we were getting anything from the game but we were determined to enjoy ourselves and we were revelling in this act of self-proclamation; “We are Leeds!” Leeds made a final change; Phillips for O’Kane and the change went almost un-noticed as we continued to swirl those scarves and sing like we were on the brink of a promotion party. It was weird and yet emotional all at the same time.
When Roofe slid home the equaliser in the 80th minute the noise ratcheted up another notch and inevitably we started to think that the impossible come-back was on the cards and with a bit of luck it might have happened with efforts from Forshaw, Phillips and in the final seconds, Lasogga with a header that hit the bar, all going close. But it didn’t and it was just left for us to blast out “We’re proud of it, we’re Leeds” to round off the afternoon and make sure those TV viewers and our own players got the message.
It remains to be seen if anything that happened this afternoon will translate into a turning point in our fortunes, whether the sight of 28,000 Leeds fans showing their undying love for the club when being offered precious little in the way of encouragement from events on the pitch will resonate with the players and somehow get them to give us more. It would be nice to think it will and that when we turn up at Pride Park on Wednesday night we, err, actually do turn up, from the first minute. It would be nice to think it but after so much disappointment this season our support will not make that trip with any great expectation. Maybe the reappearance of our early season talisman, Samu Saiz, will help turn things around. We can but hope.
Leeds United Bristol City
Possession 55% 45%
Shots 13 12
On Target 3 5
Corners 5 6
Fouls 14 13