Nothing beats the feeling of the first game of the season. Immediately you ask yourself: how will our campaign unfold? How will the new signings look on their league debuts? Having spent nothing at all on transfers, will we be able to compete with the mighty Leeds United, who, yet again started a new season under new management after parting ways with Garry Monk during the summer, replacing him with Thomas Christiansen?
Kick off time was eventually upon us and our opening game had been picked for the Sky Cameras – with big David Wheater leading the team out in front of 19,847 fans. Leeds had yet again packed out the away end as they usually do when they travel away from Elland Road. ”Marching on together” was being blasted out from the south stand and ”We’re the one and only Wanderers” came from the home fans.
It didn’t take long for the first goal to come. It came inside the 6th minute whilst fans were doing a minutes applause in memory of little Bradley Lowry. Leeds won themselves a corner and up stepped Pablo Hernandez who curled a ball into the box finding Kalvin Phillips, who made no mistake in finding the back of the net.
Sadly the second goal also went to Leeds. It came from Wood who had a simple finish after some poor defending on the flanks – to just head home on the 30th minute. At this point I must admit I didn’t see much hope of a comeback and it looked liked every time they attacked our full backs, they could have scored at will. Darby was finding it hard to handle Hernandez each time a ball came into the box from Leeds United’s right hand side.
Thankfully as half time loomed, we won a corner on the 38th minute and Josh Vela’s peach of a cross found Madine at the far post, who nodded in to give us some hope heading into the break.
Just as we thought the scoring had ceased for the first half, Leeds came forward again and the ball found it’s way to into the feet of the Leeds attacker Hernandez. Cries of offside rung out around the stadium, but personally having seen an image of the pass into their front line, it seems Darby wasn’t quite switched on with the rest of the back 5 and was just about playing both Phillips and Hernandez onside. Hernandez just got a touch to the ball and slid it to Phillips, who had the easiest of tasks of slotting the ball into an empty net for his second of the game which would prove decisive.
Frustration was felt around the home fans at half time as they had seen the boys manage to find a way back into the game but let it all slip away again in the matter of minutes due to more sloppy defending. However, as the Wanderers came back out again for the 2nd half, I personally felt if we could just find that 2nd goal early on we might have a chance of getting at least a point.
It was not until the 66th minute for prayers to be answered via a spot kick. Vela put the ball into the box from a corner and it was Leeds sub Conor Shaughnessy who it seems couldn’t wait until full time to swap shirts with Gary Madine – he quite literally took the shirt off Madine’s back, which quickly lead to the ref pointing to the spot and up stepped Adam Le Fondre to blast home his first goal of the season.
To the gaffers credit he threw caution to the wind by bringing on new summer signing Will Buckley and later new loanee, Adam Armstrong, to bolster the attack. However it was all to no avail, as we huffed and puffed with little reward.
Unfortunately the only talking point in stoppage time was the sad sight of Josh Vela going down injured on the half way line. Having watched the physios pick him up and try to help him limp off fail, he collapsed back on the turf and had to be taken off on a stretcher.
As much as I’d like to say we deserved something from the game I would have to concede that 3-2 was a fair result. We fought bravely until the end and if it hadn’t been for a couple of pieces of sloppy defending in the first half, I could have been sat here right now talking about how we had come away with something . Alas, it wasn’t to be and we go on to the mid week game against Crewe in the League Cup, with Millwall away on the horizon soon after that on Saturday.
Darby Dervite Wheater Beevers Taylor
Vela Cullen Karacan
Madine Le Fondre
Buckley Alnwick Robinson Derik Wilbraham Armstrong Burke
By Aaron Stevens