Match day 28, Leeds United welcome Millwall to Elland Road. The Whites are debuting new left back signee Laurens de Bock, and Leeds United are also dedicating their fixture to the Kick It Out campaign. Millwall have not won on the road all season, and were looking to steal away their first victory. The resulting 90 minutes were a rollercoaster of emotions for fans of either side, something I haven’t seen in some time. Buckle up.
Not even 10 seconds from kickoff (not kidding) and Millwall already had an attempt on goal. Aiden O’Brien got a shot off which looked threatening, but Felix Weidwald made a solid diving save to parry the shot away. Both teams came out guns blazing, wildly going back and forth for the first handful of minutes.
Pierre-Michel Lasogga had an...interesting day. The ST/CB started in his first league match since Leeds played Brentford away last November. He, along with all our strikers, have been heavily critiqued, to put it nicely, by LUFC faithful. He added more fuel to the fire in the 8th minute, as Pablo Hernandez lobbed a brilliant ball to the German, who was all alone with a free header. The result? Headed directly at Lions goalkeep Jordan Archer. Not long after Lasogga was at it again, as in the 13th PML found some space with Archer to beat but was again denied, this time via Archer’s legs. Ezgjan Alioski also had a chance early, as he attacked left back James Meredith on the flank. There were bodies in the box, but Alioski kept his head down and fired away. This was, unfortunately, something that kept reoccurring this match.
It was at this point where our back four forgot how to defend.
Leeds struggled to defend a cross that came to Jed Wallace, who fiercely put it in the back of the net. Fortunately for us, the linesman ruled him offsides. Seconds later, Morison’s cross went over Gaetano Berardi but found the head of Aiden O’Brien for a Millwall Goal. 0-1 | 19’
Up a goal, Millwall had all the momentum and put the pedal to the metal. Jake Cooper, who is 6 foot 5 inches, was being marked by Laurens de Bock, who is 5 foot 8, and for some reason Cooper kept getting opportunities to head the ball in. Free kick after free kick were given, corners weren’t being defended well at all. Millwall’s attack continued steadily, and as time crept on you could tell something was bound to happen, and it wouldn’t be good for Leeds.
It happened in the 38th minute.
Liam Cooper goes in for a tackle on George Saville. It was a hard nosed tackle, typical Liam style. Late? Yes, by just a bit. But the safe bet is that Cooper would get booked, and that’s it. At the same time, all hell broke loose on the sidelines. Both benches needed to be restrained which took some time, but all the while the ref hadn’t signaled what the charge was for Cooper. And then he shows him red. It’s harsh in my eyes, but I imagine what happened is the ref saw the scuffle happen on the sideline, his assistant told him that Leeds started it, and he chose to punish Leeds by sending off Cooper. Both teams assistants were sent off as well. Leeds were falling apart right before our eyes. You could tell that Pontus Jansson let the emotions get the best of him; he got booked not long after the incident. But before the half ended, Millwall wanted to stun the crowd another time. That came by way of a cross that found Lee Gregory at point blank range who put it in the back of the net for a Millwall goal. 0-2 | 43’
At the half, Leeds look defeated. The back line looked like they each spoke a different language. Any threatening attack was ruined by shot selection. 10 men. Have I mentioned Leeds were 7th on the table going in, Millwall were 17th. Not to mention, Millwall were looking to be well on their way to getting their first win of the season in our backyard.
So I have no idea what TC told his team at the half when a minute into the half Pierre-Michel Lasogga got on back for the good guys for a Leeds GOAL. 1-2 | 46’
Midfielder Shaun Williams made a mess of a clearance, and the ball made its way to Kemar Roofe who found the Prime Minister as he slotted it home from 12 yards out. The Whites opened the second half with all the momentum on their side as they were looking to equalize. The tables turned on Millwall, who now had defensive miscues of their own. The Lions were able to get a corner in the 53rd minute which would turn into a Gregory header that was well saved by Wiedwald. On the counter, de Bock gave a dangerous cross in that the Archer fumbled about and let the ball loose. Leeds players swarmed, but eventually Kemar Roofe was able to push the ball across and bring the sides level for a Leeds GOAL. 2-2 | 55’
2-0 is the worst lead for a reason, after all.
Leeds kept the attack going, pushing hard to find a goal to take the lead. Pablo Hernandez came close, but his shot went wide in the 59th minute. Matthew Pennington, who came on for Ronaldo Vieira after the second Millwall goal in the first half, forced a corner for Millwall. The Whites defended the corner well, and broke on the counter. Hernandez laid the ball off to Lasogga just outside the box and the Prime Minister shocked just about everyone by unleashing a cannon shot into the bottom corner for a Leeds GOAL. 3-2 | 63’
Something I noticed was how passionate Lasogga got after his goals. He’s on loan, but if this game was my first football game ever watched, I’d think Lasogga has the LUFC crest tattood on his chest. He wants to be here so bad, to succeed so bad. You gotta love that. You could see his confidence skyrocket after his opening goal, there’s no way he’s letting that shot fly if he hadn’t scored the first goal.
So Leeds got the goal they were looking for. With one man down no less, the Whites came back from 0-2 down to 3-2 leaders. This seemed like the team that is chasing promotion. For a moment, everything seemed normal. Leeds were poised to win, Lasogga is scoring goals, and LUFC continue to stay in good position to make the playoffs. For the next 20ish minutes, both teams played solid, back and forth football. Shane Ferguson came on for O’Brien and Tom Elliot (yep, same Tom Elliot) came on for James Meredith not long after in the 66th minute. Stuart Dallas came on for Kemar Roofe, who had asked to come off, in the 74th. Millwall had yet another threatening corner, this time at the head Lee Gregory. His shot went across goal, but Leeds had a defender in the area and cleared the ball off the line. Mahlon Romeo came on for Connor McLaughlin and shortly after Lasogga made way for Connor Shaughnessy, with the big German getting a standing ovation in his first start.
5 minutes (plus stoppage time) left, we got this. Nothing can go wrong, our defense has been playing lights out second half, we will get those three points. Kalvin Phillips gets booked late, his 10th of the season, which means he’s gone for the next two games. Maybe, just maybe, Klich makes the bench next game. Millwall get a corner in the 86th minute, and the cross falls to Tom Elliot who stuns the crowd as Millwall equalize. 3-3 | 89’
Leeds took their foot off the gas at the last minute thinking the game was over. The Whites used up all their gas climbing back from 2-0 with 10 men that they ran out just before the game ended. Either way, Millwall were back even. But the Lions weren’t done yet. They’ve played 28 weeks of football without experiencing an away win and, now that they were within distance, the Lions pushed further while we sat back and wanted to wait out one point. Dallas gave the ball away from a throw, leaving Leeds open on the counter enabling Jed Wallace to net in a deflected shot for a Millwall goal. 3-4 | 90’ + 2
This one is tough to swallow on many a reason. It’s a gut punch of a loss. But there are positives to take away from the result, as always. Lasogga played a hell of a game, hopefully this kickstarts a run of good form for the Prime Minister. Discipline issues yes, but the team proved that they can fight back when put in a corner. De Bock showed promise, I really liked what he can bring offensively. Lastly, at the very end of the game Leeds very nearly went level 4-4. It started from a beautiful long ball from de Bock in his corner, and Leeds produced quick passes to move the ball around and work through the Millwall D. The ball moved its way beautifully to Kalvin Phillips, who delivered a great low cross, but unfortunately Connor Shaughnessy was on the receiving end of the cross and couldn’t put it past Archer. Why Shaughnessy was there and not a more proven finisher, that’s up for debate. But the build up play..I think it showed that if we need to move the ball in a hurry, we’re not bad at it. Maybe an increase in tempo could benefit our club moving forward. MOT