Wednesday, September 29, 2004

Leeds Today
Blackwell thrilled despite no goals


by paul dews
LEEDS boss Kevin Blackwell hailed his side's performance as "the best yet" after watching them held to a 0-0 draw last night.


Blackwell's men bounced back from Friday's home disappointment at the hands of Sunderland to dominate the clash against fourth-placed Stoke City, and the manager was delighted with the character shown by his troops.
"I didn't know how lads would respond after Friday," admitted Blackwell.
"But that was one hell of a response and that is our best performance by a mile. We made Stoke look like a pub team at times.
"People came up to me afterwards and said it's the best they've seen for 12 months. That's a massive accolade for the players."
Blackwell admits he is concerned about the lack of goals from his front men, but said he felt his side could do little more to break down a side who showed no ambition beyond defending.
"We just need Lady Luck to smile on us" said the United boss.
"We're not lucky in our defending, we created chances, but the ball is just not going for us.
"We played some of the finest football you will see in this division and we want to give the fans more than that.
"I need the fans to keep the players believing in themselves and they did that again. I can't thank them enough for that.
"The players are disappointed with themselves, but they went a long way to resurrecting the belief we are not a million miles away."
Blackwell, however, was critical of referee Lee Mason, who had an Elland Road shocker.
"If I say what I want to say I'll lose my wage packet," fumed Blackwell.
"I don't know what he was doing. It's hard to think we're at Elland Road because we don't seem to get any luck, no decisions go our way and it's unbelievable.
"Deano (Brian Deane) nearly had his eye taken out and there was one cynical challenge on Brett Ormerod where he could have broken his leg."

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs Stoke City: Leeds 0 Stoke 0
Leeds United were held to a scoreless draw at home to Stoke but how they failed to find the net will be a mystery to Kevin Blackwell who's side had all the possession but couldn't break a resilient Stoke back line down.
Leeds started brighter than on Friday against Sunderland and some crisp passing in the midfield, particularly from Gregan, who seemed to be marshalling the troops magnificently, seemed to send out a message of intent to the crowd that they owed them a good performance. And Elland Road replied as the fans were in great voice.
Early Leeds pressure told with the first corner of the game after six minutes, it was taken short to Kelly who swung an inviting cross into the box but the ball refused to drop to a white shirt. As the pressure stayed on De Goey's goal Ormerod twisted and turned but just as he pulled the trigger he was tackled.
Gregan was certainly having his most productive game in a Leeds shirt. He was winning tackles and starting attacks with increasing regularity. Stoke mounted their first attack after 17 minutes but Akinbiyi fired his shot straight at Sullivan from a tight angle.
Ormerod then had a chance after great work from Deane in the area but his shot was well blocked by Halls. It was all Leeds and Wright had a free-kick that sailed just wide of the post and then Ormerod hit one from 25-yards that had De Goey worried.
It was impressive stuff from Leeds and a total turn around from Friday evening's debacle. The first booking of the game came after 25 minutes when Gerry Taggart scythed down Ormerod on the half way line to stop the striker breaking free.
Gregan was next to try his luck for Leeds when he gave in to the crowds urgings to hit one from long range but he over hit it. Deane then allowed his adrenaline to run away with him and he followed Taggart in to the refs book for a foul on Hunt just before half-time.
It was an impressive half by Leeds and all that was missing was a goal. They had certainly passed the ball much better in that half than at any other time this season.
Immediately after half time Deane won a header on the edge of the box to find Ormerod, the goal was at his mercy and any kind of decent contact would have brought the first goal but the ball trickled through to De Goey. Left-back Crainey was next to have a pop but his shot just curled wide.
Akinbiyi was working tirelessly at closing the Leeds defence down and his work rate had to be admired. He harried the Leeds defence in to creating an opportunity for Russell but Sullivan was alert to the danger. Persistent Leeds pressure again, created a chance for Pugh. Richardson crossed from the right but this time Pugh couldn't keep his header down.
The elusive first goal nearly came for Leeds when after 15 minutes of the second half Ormerod worked an opportunity down the left, cut inside his man but De Goey saved his shot. Stoke couldn't clear and Deane nodded it across the goal only for Wright to have his shot saved from all of five yards. Stoke could count themselves lucky not to be behind.
Wright then forced De Goey to save again, this time from header from a cross by Crainey. Ormerod then found himself in space on the right and pulled the ball back in to Richardson's path but he dallied too long and the danger was clear. Leeds were so clearly the dominant force but they were trying to walk the ball into the net.
Pugh then fired the ball across the goal to earn Leeds a corner. It was so one-sided it was embarrassing. From the corner Gregan worked himself into a shooting position but he again fired over the bar. It already looked like Stoke were hanging on for a point. With just over 15 minutes left Leeds were getting anxious that all their good work was going to go to waste and Crainey hit one from long range when it may have been better to keep possession.
The next time Crainey was invited to shoot though he made the Stoke goalie pull out all the stops. But the flying dutchman was up to it just tipping it over the bar. It was Carlisle's turn to excite the crowd next. An exquisite turn on the edge of the box and a cross in front of the goalie caused all sorts of confusion and from the resulting corner Butler had a header cleared off the line.
Next Leeds had a good shout for a penalty turned down when Deane was manhandled in the box but the referee was unmoved. In what seemed a final throw of the dice for Leeds Joachim came on for Richardson to inject some pace. Richardson was applauded roundly by the Stoke fans who still remember his time on loan at the Britannia.
In the last ten minutes Leeds couldn't create any more real opportunities until the last minute of injury time when Deane headed agonisingly wide but it was an injustice that they didn't take all three points from this fixture. The only criticism you could possibly throw at Leeds was a lack of natural width in the second half.
Leeds had all the possession but didn't put many crosses in to dangerous areas. But that is being very harsh on Leeds who once again kept a clean sheet at Elland Road.
Sport

David Conn: Directors in Leeds' downfall expected to escape DTI action
25 September 2004


The administrators' report into the conduct of Leeds United's directors leading up to the club's £100m collapse earlier this year has been delivered to the Department of Trade and Industry. The DTI is expected to take between two and four months to decide whether the report identifies misconduct serious enough to warrant disqualification proceedings against any of Leeds' directors in the previous three years, including the former chairman Peter Ridsdale and non-executive director Allan Leighton, the Royal Mail Group chairman.

Garry Wilson, one of the administrators, would not comment on the contents of the report and told me it was "too early" to speculate on the DTI's decision, but other sources suggested that although Leeds' meltdown was mighty it is unlikely to lead to DTI action against any of the directors.

In their Premiership and Champions' League semi-final heyday of 2000-2001, Leeds, according to Ridsdale's famous admission, "lived the dream", borrowing £60m from financial institutions and £22m from Registered European Football Finance in sale and leaseback arrangements on their players, to buy stars and pay galactic wages for an assault on sustained European success. Having failed to qualify for the Champions' League by a single place in 2001 and 2002, Leeds found they had very much less money coming in than draining out; they lost £34m in 2002, then £50m last year.

Ridsdale was paid £645,000 in 2001, £383,000 in 2002, and another £383,000, a year's salary, when he resigned in 2003. Leighton sat on the remuneration committee, which recommended the directors' salaries, and the audit committee, which monitored "the adequacy of the group's internal controls, accounting policies and financial reporting". Richard North, the Britvic chairman, was the other non-executive director on these committees, and he chaired the audit committee.

In March this year when the consortium led by the chairman Gerald Krasner picked up the football club, the main financial casualties were the bondholders and REFF, which accepted £20m to settle total debts of £82m. Krasner's consortium took over the wage bill, a reported £7m owed to the Inland Revenue and the football club's other debts. Leeds United plc went into administration; its handful of creditors ranging from a local newsagent's £50 bill to Caddick Construction, owed £120,000, are being settled in full.

Garry Wilson was giving advice to the Leeds board from January 2003, so when the plc went into administration, he decided his firm, Ernst and Young, should not carry out the investigation into the directors, and an independent accountant, Brendan Guilfoyle, was appointed. Guilfoyle said then: "This is the first time a Premier League football club has been investigated with the backing of the law. I will look at the conduct of current and past directors to see if they are fit to be directors" - an announcement said to have infuriated Leighton, because directors' conduct is investigated routinely as part of any administration, and was not unusual to Leeds.

Leighton has a big reputation to protect; formerly Asda's chief executive, he is a director of BSkyB, Selfridges, British Home Stores and Dyson. He was chairman of the Royal Mail when Adam Crozier was appointed to be the chief executive, shortly after Crozier had been forced to resign from the Football Association following a campaign against him by Premiership club chairmen on the FA's board, including Ridsdale.

Since the initial furore, the Leeds investigation has been shrouded in confidentiality; Guilfoyle interviewed both Leighton and Ridsdale over the summer. While all the plc shareholders lost their money, and Leeds fans were left fearing for the club's existence, leading a company into insolvency is not in itself grounds for action by the DTI against a director. That normally follows specific breaches of company or insolvency law, including trading while insolvent, or directors improperly enriching themselves while creditors are left high and dry. The DTI can, however, take action if the Inland Revenue has been left owed large debts or if the company has been seriously mismanaged.

Ridsdale, now looking to rehabilitate his reputation at Barnsley, told me that while he accepted Leeds' strategy was calamitous, the board followed procedures properly: "I am confident we behaved honestly and did not breach company rules."

It was thought Guilfoyle might concentrate on the alleged culture of excess at Leeds; the stories told by the chairman who succeeded Ridsdale, Professor John McKenzie, of a large fleet of company cars and well-fed boardroom goldfish, were particularly damaging. Ridsdale has always scorned those tales.

Guilfoyle said he would report to the DTI in six months, a date which was up last Sunday. He did not return my calls this week, and the DTI's Insolvency Service said such reports remain confidential. Others suggested the DTI would ultimately conclude that Leeds' collapse was down to a strategy which went horribly wrong, rather than misconduct by directors.

Krasner said he was "quite pleased" with Leeds' mid-table start in reduced circumstances under new manager Kevin Blackwell, but the club is not out of trouble. The debts have come down from £103m before administration to £40m, the wage bill from £57m at last year's height to £18m, but that is still twice the First Division average, and six times the £3m Sheffield United pay all their players. "We were paying one of our players more than Sheffield United were paying their whole squad," Krasner sighed. "And those high earners were the players who should have kept us up."

In the summer, Leeds sold Alan Smith, Mark Viduka, Paul Robinson and James Milner but need to trim more. The plan to raise £8-10m up front by selling 20-year season tickets was greeted with underwhelmed scepticism by fans, and just 250 bought. The £40m debts include £15m lent via the property developer Jack Petchey, whose company Trefick, have a mortgage on Elland Road and have to be repaid in the spring.

Krasner said the fans, had been "magnificent", citing the 32,000 who watched Leeds beat Huddersfield in the Carling Cup first round. However, he said: "The financial pressure is not off." Asked for his view of how the club came to this, Krasner said: "From the figures I've seen, we didn't live the dream. We lived the nightmare."

Friday, September 24, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Matchreport Leeds United vs Sunderland

LEEDS 0 V 1 SUNDERLAND

Leeds fell to their first home defeat of the season as they lost 1-0 to an impressive Sunderland side. Carl Robinson scored the only goal but debutant Brett Ormerod missed a penalty for Leeds to salvage a point.
On an emotional evening at Elland Road a minutes silence was held for Brian Clough who influenced both teams, albeit in different capacities!. Sunderland started the brighter and had two corners in the opening minutes but nothing came of them.
It was a cracking atmosphere at Elland Road and both sets of fans were in full voice. The only goal Leeds had conceded at Elland Road this year was an Andy Reid penalty against Nottingham Forest and Sunderland were really testing out the Leeds back line with a sustained spell of pressure, but early on, Leeds held firm.
The first real incident of the game came after ten minutes when Brian Deane expertly headed in a Jermaine Wright corner but the referee ruled it out for an apparent foul by Clarke Carlisle. And just a minute after, Pugh swung in a free kick which if Carlisle could have made heavier contact with, would surely have brought the first goal.
There was then a sickening clash of heads between Leeds old boy Caldwell and new boy Ormerod. Caldwell cut his eye and Ormerod had a gash in his head. Both had to leave the field for treatment. Ormerod took to the field five minutes later with a number of stitches. With an attitude like that, it won't take the Leeds fans long to take to him.
Just after the half hour Leeds were nearly caught out when a deflected shot from Whitehead flashed past the post. Sunderland hit Leeds on the counter attack and Crainey was caught out of position. Whitehead hit a shot goalbound and Brown got the faintest of touches on it to send the ball just past the post. A lucky escape for Leeds.
Sunderland were playing with more attacking intent than any other side that had visited Elland Road this season and Leeds were being put under a fair amount of pressure, especially from the lively Stephen Elliott. But as the half drew to a close neither side would be going in with the upper hand.
Sunderland started the second half the brighter and early pressure brought a corner but it came to nothing. Leeds had their Skipper Butler to thank for the scores staying level after ten minutes of the second half though.
Whitehead played Elliott in and the young Irishman looked to have the goal at his mercy. But a last ditch tackle from Butler did just enough to stop the striker from shooting. And immediately after Deane had a chance but headed wide after good work from Kelly.
Carl Robinson was the next to try his luck for The Black Cats when a free-kick was only partially cleared to the edge of the box and the midfielder shot wide.
*GOAL. But he made no mistake with his next opportunity. From a throw-in on the Sunderland left they worked a way through a static Leeds defence and Robinson kept a cool head to finish past Sullivan for the first time in open play at Elland Road this season.
And lucky for Leeds, Sullivan was alert soon after the goal as he was at full stretch to keep out a shot from Whitehead.
Leeds finally managed to create an opening and it fell to Frazer Richardson. Deane won a flick on the halfway line and Richardson scuttled clear, but he could only shoot over the bar. This was a real test for Blackwell's men now to see how far they had come in a short space of time.
Leeds were handed a lifeline though when the referee awarded a penalty after some scrimaging in the box. But debutant Ormerod wasted the opportunity when his tame penalty was kept out by Poom. The striker did have a record of scoring for every club on his debut but he looked to have wasted that chance now.
For some inspiration Blackwell turned to Julian Joachim who replaced Richardson. He also brought on the midweek hero, Michael Ricketts for Brian Deane. And when Sunderland made their first change it was a familiar face to all.
Michael Bridges had started his career at Sunderland before having a successful spell at Leeds. But when Bridges decided to leave after a terrible spell of injuries the Leeds fans turned against him, and his introduction was met with a chorus of boos.
The final ten minutes were met with a lot of effort by Leeds but without much of an end product. Even the three minutes of injury time couldn't produce an equaliser for Leeds.
So McCarthy's men continued their good run but for Blackwell's boy's it was back to the drawing board. A first home defeat and first loss in five halted the progress of The Whites.

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

United cure drought of Ricketts

United cure drought of Ricketts
by Terry Ruane
For the second successive season Leeds United played hosts to Swindon Town in the second round of the Carling Cup.
United blushes were saved last year when goalkeeper Paul Robinson headed the equaliser with only seconds remaining.
Lightning almost struck twice last night as Swindon trailed 1-0 with seconds to go. Goalkeeper Rhys Evans arrived late at the far post, but saw his header sail over the crossbar.
Leeds opened brightly with some good work down the right hand side from Gary Kelly, United's only survivor from last year's cup-tie. Jamie McMaster dummied his long ball, Michael Ricketts controlled, and played in a teasing cross that had Evans at full stretch.
On nine minutes Leeds took the lead when Kelly played a superb through ball to Ricketts. The big striker took one touch before neatly side-footing the ball past Evans to register his first goal for the club.
United manager Kevin Blackwell said after the game that he was pleased that one of his strikers had scored, as they had been unable to buy a goal this season.
United's faithful must have hoped that with an early goal their team would settle down and put Swindon to the sword.
The Wiltshire team, however, had other ideas and with Sam Parkin upfront and ably supported by Brian Howard and Sammy Igoe, Swindon began to claw their way back into this cup-tie.
Swindon almost drew level, after good work down the right flank by Igoe. His cross fell to Howard, whose shot was deflected over the bar for a Swindon corner. Minutes later Steve Robinson then pulled his shot wide as the visitors began to force Leeds into rearguard action.
Leeds almost doubled their lead when Sean O'Hanlon headed the ball against his own crossbar and Ricketts failed to turn the rebound into the net.
Leeds United 1, Swindon 0
Carling Cup - second round
(at Elland Road)
Leeds United: Sullivan, Kelly, Carlisle, Butler, Kilgallon, Joachim (Cadamarteri 70min), Gregan, Spring, Pugh, McMaster (Walton 61), Ricketts (Deane 80). Subs (not used): Carson, Duberry. Goal: Ricketts 9.
Swindon: Evans, Duke, O'Hanlon, Ifil, Smith (Heywood 80), Robinson, Hewlett (Fallon 80), Miglioranzi (Pook 90), Howard, Igoe, Parkin. Subs (not used): Book, Garrard.
Referee: Brian Curson (Leicestershire).
Attendance: 18,476
Leeds Today

RIGHT ON RICKETTS

'I hope some of my touches showed my ability is starting to come out a bit'
By PAUL DEWS
GOAL-DEN boy Michael Ricketts broke his Elland Road duck last night and declared: "It's nice to get off the mark."

Ricketts fired Leeds United into the third round of the Carling Cup with a delightful finish as Kevin Blackwell's men edged their way to a 1-0 victory over Swindon Town.
It was Ricketts' first start since August and he repaid Blackwell's faith by scoring his first goal since joining the club from Middlesbrough last summer.
Said Ricketts: "It's been a long time coming. I've missed the last three pre-seasons and have struggled with my fitness, but it's been a case of getting fit and hoping my ability would tell.
"It took me a while to score at Middlesbrough, but when I was at Bolton I hit the ground running so it's nice to get off the mark here - especially at home as well.
"I've been doing extra training and I feel a lot fitter and a lot sharper, and I hope some of my touches last night showed my ability is starting to come out a bit."
United are now four games unbeaten and are on their best run of form since Christmas 2002.
Their next challenge is against Sunderland for a crucial Coca-Cola Championship showdown at Elland Road on Friday and Ricketts says it is important to keep the run going.
"We're a team in form and we need to keep the momentum going," said the striker.
Brett Ormerod will come into the reckoning for the Sunderland showdown, but Ricketts gave Blackwell a timely reminder of his talents last night and the manager was delighted.
Blackwell said: "That showed the capability of Michael Ricketts and that's why I think we have to be patient with the lad. hopefully he will go on and build on that now."
BLACKWELL AIMING FOR STEADY PROGRESS: Sporting Life - Football | Premiership, Championship, Scottish & European News, Scores, Results

BLACKWELL AIMING FOR STEADY PROGRESS
Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell insists he will go on rebuilding the club in a "slow and proper manner" as they seek an instant return to the Barclays Premiership.
The Whites booked their place in the third round of the Carling Cup with a 1-0 win over Swindon as Blackwell tried to give some of his players a break, with Sunderland due to visit Elland Road in the Coca-Cola Championship on Friday.
The boss believes his squad is not quite at the level he would like yet but he is acutely aware that money cannot be thrown around to repeat the rapid improvement of the club under former chairman Peter Ridsdale.
"I know there's a level we need to compete at and we've still got to get to that level, but we can't rush it, we can't do that any more," Blackwell said.
"It's my job to keep planning for the future, to keep getting players in and to build the club in a slow and proper manner.
"I'm still two or three players short, I know I am, but I believe those players will cost money. These are the players I need to make the club competitive as quickly as possible again."
Blackwell was at pains to reiterate that the club's latest signing, Brett Ormerod, was signed on loan from Southampton "through the correct channels" after an insinuation from Sheffield United manager Neil Warnock that the player was 'tapped up'.
The United boss was also impressed with Michael Ricketts, whose first goal for the club proved decisive against Swindon.
The 25-year-old has one England cap to his name from his time at Bolton but a £3.5million move to Middlesbrough in January 2003 failed to work out, and he is now trying to resurrect his fortunes in Yorkshire.
"The pleasing thing was Michael finished it with some style, there was a lot of work still to do for that goal," Blackwell added.
"It shows what he is capable of. We have to have patience with him. He is a frustrating player but there is no doubt he is a talented player.
"If he gets into that position again now he'll feel more confident."
Despite the defeat, Swindon manager Andy King was pleased with his side's display and believes more of the same will transform them from a mid-table League One side to a team challenging for a place in the Championship.
"The players need to take this energy, this commitment and this composure and transfer it into the league - that's the task," King said.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Crewe 2 Leeds 2: Pugh brace foils Crewe
ALAN COMBES AT GRESTY ROAD
A RARE scenario at Gresty Road yesterday, in that this was the first league meeting ever between these sides. They met 10 years ago at Elland Road in the FA Cup, when the evergreen Brian Deane was the scorer.
Leeds can count themselves lucky to have escaped with a point yesterday, although they blitzed the Crewe goal in search of a winner in stoppage time. An abrasive Crewe midfield, ably led by Kenny Lunt, caused Leeds several embarrassing moments and gave Sean Gregan an uncomfortable debut.
With Dean Ashton, Steve Jones and David Vaughan in form, Crewe made Leeds look nervy and uncoordinated at the back in the early stages. When Paul Butler’s misjudged header landed at Jones’s feet, he bamboozled his way past two Leeds defenders before laying on a fine opportunity for Ashton, which the under-21 international fired over. Only a quality reflex save from Neil Sullivan kept out a glancing header from Jones after Lunt’s free kick.
Towards the end of the half Crewe seemed to run out of steam, and Deane became a menace as the veteran’s runs brought Julian Joachim and Jermaine Wright more into the game.
From one, Deane’s centre found Wright, who hit the post. The rebound from Frazer Richardson was headed off the line by Stephen Foster.
But just after the break, Lunt’s free-kick left the Leeds defence at full stretch and Clarke Carlisle’s blatant handball was punished as Ashton converted the penalty.
Leeds stormed back, and after Carlisle had hit the bar, Danny Pugh forced his header through a crowd of players for the equaliser. Justin Cochrane, brought on at half-time, was exerting his influence. His sprint past Gregan and Butler finished at Jones’s feet but he shot straight at Sullivan.
Joachim was replaced by Michael Ricketts, giving Leeds a wealth of aerial power. With Southampton striker Brett Ormerod reportedly set to join this week, this will only serve to make Leeds a formidable threat up front.
Two minutes later, Vaughan found Lunt with a ball down the inside left. The Crewe captain passed the ball to Jones, who beat Sullivan with a well-taken shot.
Leeds threw their full armoury at the hosts. Lunt deflected Ricketts’ shot off the line, then a crossfield ball from Wright was volleyed into the net by Pugh for Leeds’s second equaliser. Suddenly Leeds snapped out of their reverie and saw the game as winnable. Stephen Crainey’s shot glanced past the upright and Jamie McMaster’s cross just failed to find a colleague.
STAR MAN: David Vaughan (Crewe)
Player ratings. Crewe Alexandra: Williams 6, Walker 6, Lunt 8, Moses 6, Foster 7, Sorvel 6, S Jones 7, Ashton 8 (Higden 86min, 6), Vaughan 8, Varney 5 (Cochrane h-t, 7), Tonkin 6
Leeds United: Sullivan 7, Kelly 7, Crainey 7, Carlisle 6, Butler 6, Wright 7, Gregan 6, Joachim 6 (Ricketts 69min, 6), Pugh 8, Richardson 7 (McMaster 85min, 7), Deane 8
Scorers: Crewe Alexandra: Ashton 48, S Jones 83
Leeds United: Pugh 53, 89
Referee: P Joslin
Attendance: 9,095

Sunday, September 19, 2004

BBC SPORT | Football | My Club | Leeds United | Ormerod heads to Leeds

Ormerod heads to Leeds
Southampton striker Brett Ormerod is joining Championship side Leeds on a month's loan in an attempt to secure some first-team football.
Ormerod has been out of favour recently and Saints head coach Steve Wigley confirmed that he was heading for a spell at Elland Road.
Wigley said: "We're not looking to sell him. He needs games, though, and hasn't had many here this season.
"Hopefully he'll come back with the benefit of five or six under his belt."
Leeds are currently 10th in the Coca-Cola Championship and manager Kevin Blackwell has been looking to strengthen his striking options since the start of the season.
Leeds United Football Club - Pugh's The Man - Crewe 2-2 Leeds

Pugh's The Man - Crewe 2-2 Leeds
A Danny Pugh rocket with a minute left has rescued a point for Leeds after four second half goals at Gresty Road.

Leeds had plenty of chances to score, and the home side only had a handful, from which they scored two, but Deane and Joachim worked hard up front and the days of the Leeds strike force bagging the goals cannot be far off.

Match report

The sun had come out by kick off after a morning of heavy rain, and Leeds started brightly, looking to dominate from the off, but it was Crewe's number nine Jones who got the first shot in, although he was flagged offside in the process.


Seven minutes in, and Crewe had a better chance when Vaughan had a shot from 25 yards out, but the low effort skidded across the wet surface and Sullivan watched it go past his post.

Both sides showed a willingness to get the ball down and pass, not surprisingly for a Dario Gradi side and for Leeds the final "killer" ball was lacking when they did threaten Ben Williams' goal. Gregan showed few signs of rustiness despite his lack of recent first team action.

However on 17 minutes Ashton squandered a great chance, when he found himself free on the edge of the area, but his left-footed shot sailed way over Sullivan's crossbar. Two minutes later, Jones again had a chance, when his shot on the turn from a throw-in had more threat but again was over the bar.

Shortly after, Joachim had Leeds first shot from 20 yards, but it flew a long way over. Within a minute, Leeds had a free kick on the right near the corner, but Deane's looping header was easily collected by Williams.

The game had started to come alive, and on 23 minutes Jones had a header from a free kick that Sullivan had to tip over one-handed.

Straight to the other end, and Danny Pugh struck a rasping left-footed shot that had the Leeds fans chering for a moment, however Williams had deflected it into his side netting.

And it was Pugh again within a minute who's header from six yards out had Williams stretching but the ball curled away and only inches past the right hand post.

The game was now really opening up, and on 30 minutes Wright hit the inside of the post from eight yards, but Richardson's shot from the rebound was cleared off the line. Leeds' passing game was now beginning to stretch the home side.

Great work from Deane won a corner in the fortieth minute, where the Crewe keeper flapped in panic, however Richardson's shot was blazed over when he should have done much, much better.

Just on half time Dean Ashton found himself in acres of space 25 yards out, but his shot flew over the bar and only threatened those sat in the hospitality boxes behind Neil Sullivan.

Disaster struck for Leeds just after the restart, when Carlisle inexpicably raised his hand to the ball in the area to give away a needless penalty, which Dean Ashton confidently struck to Sullivan's right.

But just five minutes later Leeds equalised through Danny Pugh. A Joachim header from a Crainey cross struck the bar, and Pugh bravely followed up to stick his head in where the boots were flying to bundle the ball home from two yards out.

Jermaine Wright forced a save two min utes later when his fierce shot made Williams dive low to the right. Wright seems to have benefitted from the arrival of Gregan in midfield, allowing him to play in a free role in the centre of the park.

Deane, having an influential game against the team he scored aginst for Leeds in their only previous meeting, rose to head just wide, and then shortly after set up Pugh who's left-foot shot curled just wide of the post.

Both sides were pressing for the winner now, and Jones found himself free on the penalty spot but his tame shot went straight at Sullivan.

Carlisle had the chance to make amends on 69 minutes with a header from a free kick, but he could not keep it down and went over Williams' bar.

Gregan marked his debut with a silly booking on 75, after he felt the referee had missed a Crewe infringement.

The home fans were furious with 10 minutes to go when an offside flag denied Jones, who had placed the ball past Sullivan from eight yards out. Both sides were still very much in the hunt for the three points at this stage.

And sadly for Leeds, Crewe got the upper hand with seven minutes to go, when a Lunt lay-off found Jones who fired past Sullivan from 10 yards out. The home side had maybe sensed that the visitors were tiring and went for Leeds' jugular.

But on 89 minutes, Leeds rescued the day when Pugh pounced once more. After a couple of minutes of concerted pressure, the ball ricoched back to the former Man Utd man who rifled an unstoppable right foot shot past the flailing Williams.

In injury time, Crainey nearly won it with a fierce drive that scorched just over Williams' bar. A minute later and McMaster's cross was just a foot too far in front of fellow substitute Ricketts to reach in the area.

Leeds had scarcely deserved to lose after a series of good chances came their way, and their new found team spirit saw them come away with a valuable point. 2-1 down with seven minutes left away from home was a big ask, but Danny Pugh's fine effort saw Leeds leave Gresty Road with an unbeaten week behind them, with the promise of three home games to come.
Leeds United Football Club - Blackwell Gets His Man: "Blackwell Gets His Man
Blackwell Gets His Man
Leeds United has won the race to sign West Bromwich Albion's highly-rated and experienced midfielder Sean Gregan.

Gregan, 30, joins the club for a fee potentially rising to £1million dependent on the Club's success. He has been appointed on a three-year contract following yesterday's medical (15/09/04) and will be officially unveiled as a Leeds player at a press conference at Thorp Arch today at 2pm.

Born in Guisborough, Gregan began his career with Darlington before joining Preston North End for £350,000 in 1996. Having made a name for himself at Deepdale, he went on to join West Brom for £1.75 million in August 2002, and was instrumental in taking them into the Premier League last season.

"Sean is a tremendous player and will be a great asset to our squad in terms of leadership, personality and talent; we're delighted he's joined us." said Leeds United manager Kevin Blackwell.
Telegraph | Sport | Leeds finding their feet again

Leeds finding their feet again
By Ross Reid
(Filed: 15/09/2004)
Plymouth (0) 0 Leeds Utd (1) 1
Plymouth suffered their first home league defeat since last September as Leeds United gained their first away success of the season thanks to an own goal by Marino Keith.
The arrival of the Yorkshire side, Champions League semi-finalists just over three years ago, attracted an all-ticket sell-out attendance of 20,555 to Home Park.
It was the newly promoted Devon side's highest league gate since a Boxing Day match against Portsmouth in 1986 and the rebuilding of their stadium two years ago.
The ground has changed a lot since Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell was on the Plymouth management staff in 1997 and 1998.
Blackwell's Leeds side were unchanged from the team who beat Coventry 3-0 on Saturday, while there were three changes to Argyle, beaten 3-2 at Queens Park Rangers.
French keeper Romain Larrieu and right back Paul Connolly both made their seasonal bows while striker Keith, who scored in the last minute at Loftus Road, was rewarded with his first home start of the season.
It was Argyle old hand, Michael Evans, who came closest to scoring in the early stages, sending Neil Sullivan scampering across his goal to keep out a deft flick.
Jermaine Wright blasted a hopeful 25-yard shot over Larrieu's bar in the 19th minute and Brian Deane had header that went wide.
Argyle's Northern Ireland international Tony Capaldi was then an early casualty, substituted in the 24th minute after challenging Leeds right back Gary Kelly.
Wright's angled drive beat Larrieu two minutes later but also evaded on-rushing Simon Walton and Julian Joachim at the far post.
Larrieu then made a superb point-blank save with his legs to deny Deane in the 32nd minute.
Leeds pressure finally reaped rewards in the 43rd minute after Peter Gilbert had cleared Walton's low drive off the goal-line.
Argyle were unable to clear further than United skipper Paul Butler and his cross-cum-shot skimmed off the head of Keith and in.
Immediately Keith had the opportunity to make amends at the other end, but Sullivan made a one-on-one stop to deny the Scottish striker.
Plymouth began the second half brighter, but found it hard work to break down a resolute visiting defence in which Butler and Clarke Carlisle were impressive.
Plymouth manager Bobby Williamson tried to pep up the attack with Scotland international striker Stevie Crawford for Evans in the 71st minute.
Leeds striker Deane caused another goalmouth scramble when his 73rd minute shot from 10 yards out was blocked and the follow-up from Wright flew wide of the target.
Sullivan spilled a cross from right back Paul Connolly but David Friio was adjudged to have impeded the keeper.
Debutant Matthew Spring, on as a second half substitute, had a thumping 25 yard shot palmed over by Larrieu in a stop-start second spell.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - The Butler Did It! Plymouth 0 Leeds 1

The Butler Did It! Plymouth 0 Leeds 1
United put in a magnificent performance at Home Park to destroy Plymouth's 18 month unbeaten record and record their first win against Argyle for 41 years. Paul Butler was the man with the header but it was a collective performance that may just signal a turning point in United's season.

Plymouth 0 United 1
Goals: Butler 42

Team news: Both United and Argyle are unchanged for this the first trip by Leeds to Home Park in 14 years.


It means Matthew Spring is again left to kick his heels on the bench as he awaits his debut for The Whites.

Teams
Plymouth: Larrieu, Friio, Coughlan, Norris, Evans (Crawford 71), Capaldi (Hodges 24), Wotton, Makel, Keith, Keith, Connolly, Gilbert. Subs: Hodges, Lasley, Milne, Crawford, Adams.

United: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Carlisle, Crainey, Wright, Pugh, Richardson, Joachim (Ricketts 82), Walton (Spring 66), Deane (McMaster 82). Subs not used: Carson, Duberry, .

The Match
The first ten minutes belonged to Plymouth as the home side looked to put United under severe pressure, fortunately Leeds weathered the storm well and the early gusto was soon gone from Plymouth's play.

Those ten minutes had not been without incident though, a number of free kicks were nervously hacked away at times but in Paul Butler Leeds had a calming influence and the skipper was heading everything lumped into the box straight back upfield.

The most nervous moment came on seven minutes when David Norris crossed into the penalty area from the right flank and it was flicked on towards goal by Mickey Evans to force Sullivan into a scrambled save by his far post, the United keeper forced to concede a corner.

Leeds survived as Sullivan was fouled following the corner and began to play their way back into the game.

Leeds won their first corner won by Richardson 12, Wright swung ball in and Pugh knocked into the penalty area but the Argyle skipper was out quickly to claim the ball ahead of Joachim and Deane.

United's best early move came from a throw by Crainey to Deane who had positioned himself on the byline. Deane managed to get the ball across the face of goal where Joachim was not far off getting on the end of the ball but Gilbert cleared for the home side.

Gilbert was then the instigator of Plymouth's most dangerous move of the half when he went round Gary Kelly only for the United full-back to recover superbly and put in an excellent tackle in the box. Plymouth screamed for a penalty but referee Steve Dunn was well placed to see Kelly got a clean foot on the ball to knock it behind.

The corner caused more danger for Sullivan's goal as the cross threatened to curl beneath his bar only for Simon Walton to head it clear, although Sullivan had been clearly fouled by Coughlan.

The home side made a surprise change on 24 minutes when they took Tony Capaldi off and brought former West Ham United youngster Lee Hodges on.

United should have taken the lead with a glorious chance on 26 minutes.

A break down the right by Jermaine Wright saw the former Ipswich man leave the Argyle defence in his wake and when the ball came in he had two men waiting for the cross inside the area. In it came and Walton looked certain to get there but somehow as he slid in the ball went past him and he collided with the post.

It was one of those injuries that makes grown men cringe that left Walton crumpled in a heap on the floor. After a few minutes treatment the 17-year-old was cleared to carry on.

Another opportunity came Leeds way just after the half hour mark when Deane met Wright's ball into the box to force a great save out of the keeper and Pugh headed the loose ball wide.

Joachim then fired a shot wide as he leaned off balance, but bar the first ten minutes the half had belonged to United.

Leeds needed to score to make the most of their superiority and the goal eventually came on 42 minutes, a great time to score to break the spirit of the home side.

First Joachim went for a high ball inside the area that Plymouth frantically cleared away but Walton fired it back in where eventually Paul Butler emerged to get the last touch on the ball with a goalwards header that the defender on the line could not keep out.

It was a deserved lead for United, but they could easily have been further infront.

They nearly lost that lead right on the stroke of half time though when Marino Keith beat the offside trap to be faced with just Sullivan to beat. Once again Sullivan was United's hero as he produced a brilliant stop to leave the striker banging the turf in frustration.

Leeds made no changes at half-time, and why would Blackwell want to change it when the side was playing so well?

Leeds continued to dominate at the start of the first half and created an early scare for the hosts when a corner was played out to Kelly, he then swung the ball in for Joachim to stoop down and direct his header at goal, with the ball just coming back off the post. Before anybody could react though the referee blew for an offside flag.

On the hour mark Leeds survived after a mistake in midfield nearly led to the equaliser. Norris robbed Crainey with the ball and knocked it forward looking to make a run at goal, but Butler got back to prevent Norris from taking the ball on and scoring.

Matthew Spring finally made his Leeds league debut when he came on for Simon Walton with 66 minutes gone.

United survived a barrage of balls into the box as Plymouth grew more desperate, and when they finally broke clear with Pugh in possession, Friio got himself booked for bringing down the midfielder just as Leeds had the numerical advantage.

On 72 minutes Joachim chased a lost cause to win a corner for Leeds and spark another spell of near chances for The Whites.

The corner was played short for Kelly to cross in again and it fell to Deane but his snap shot was blocked and half cleared away. Pugh stopped the clearance on the edge of the area but his shot on goal was also blocked.

Matthew Spring gave Leeds fans the first taste of what is to come from him this season as he took aim from 25 yards and would have scored one of the goals of the season if the keeper hadn't pulled off a great save just under his crossbar.

United should have been awarded a penalty when Lee Makel clearly handled Wright's cross into the area, but the referee called no penalty.

The game was briefly held up by a pitch invader wearing a tartan kilt who evaded the ground staff but not the rugby tackle that would have graced Headingley that came from a fleet-footed policeman.

With less than ten minutes left to play Blackwell made another change by bringing Brian Deane and Julian Joachim off and replacing them with Michael Ricketts and Jamie McMaster.

Leeds were looking to kill the game with a crucial second goal and Richardson missed the chance to do just that when Pugh put him clear but the winger lost control at the vital moment and Plymouth managed to get across and cover the danger.

Jermaine Wright could have also wrapped it up a minute before the start of five minutes of extra time when he took aim from the edge of the box, but his shot was deflected behind for a corner.

Leeds had Sullivan to thank again as he prevented Plymouth from snatching a point out of the game by tipping a shot over by Hodges in the fifth minute of extra time.

In total the referee played eight agonising minutes of extra time, but Leeds played it cool and wound down the time expertly.
Sky Sports - The Best Sport Coverage From Around The World

Leeds to capture Gregan
by Peter ORourke - Last Updated 14 Sep 2004
Leeds are closing in on the signature of West Brom midfielder Sean Gregan.
The Elland Road outfit have been chasing the former Preston man for some time and are hopeful of landing him after having two previous bids rejected.
Gregan has been seeking a move away from The Hawthorns after having a transfer request accepted last month.
Cardiff and Nottingham Forest were also linked with Gregan, but Leeds are closing in on his signature.
Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell has been desperate to strengthen his midfield with numbers limited and he sees Gregan as a key addition to his squad.
"I'm absolutely delighted because I've been chasing him for ages," said Blackwell.
"He can be an inspirational and influential player for us because he has a wealth of experience."
Leeds United Football Club - Walton Signs Three Year Contract

Walton Signs First Pro Deal
Young United midfielder Simon Walton is celebrating after signing his first professional contract at Elland Road.
The Academy graduate signed a three-year deal on his 17th birthday ahead of last weekend's 3-0 win over Coventry, a game which he later played in.
The Leeds-lad has made five appearances this season and continues to impress with every performance despite his age.
Walton, speaking through his agents on their website at www.stallargroup.co.uk, said:
"My goal at the start of the season was to break into the first team, so to do it on the opening day of the season was a huge boost for my confidence.

"It was always going to be a bit of wait-and-see this year with the number of different players leaving and joining, and it will take time for us all to learn how the manager wants us to play and how each of our teammates play. But I am happy with my form and just want to keep playing as many first-team games as I can."
Manager Kevin Blackwell revealed how keen the club were to make sure they were able to secure Simon down to a long term deal.
"Players like Simon are the future of this club," said Blackwell.
"We always knew when we signed him that he was a lad that had major potential and he was always going to be offered a pro-contract whether he was in the first team or not.
"There was and is a lot of interest in Simon Walton and we had to fight to keep him at the club alongside Ben Parker who will also sign when he turns 17."
Parker, like Walton, is an England youth international and is tipped by Blackwell to be the next player to come off the Thorp Arch Academy production line.
"Ben Parker will break into the reserves in the next four or five weeks and when he does I will not be afraid to play him if I need to. Once again he's slightly behind in physical development, but that will come.
"He's a natural left-back which there is a dearth of, and we're looking after this kid because everyone knows how long and hard it was for me to bring one into the club.
"He's a Leeds lad and once again has come through the Academy which we are very excited about."
*Meanwhile, Cameroon midfielder Serge Branco has been released by the club.
The Olympic gold medalist had signed on an initial one month contract which would have been extended to a year had he impressed enough. Kevin Blackwell has decided against signing the player.
Explained Blackwell: "With what I have seen and with youngsters like Simon Walton there, I believe I can get as much energy from people like Simon as I can from Branco because for me he's still not of the level that can improve us.
"When you look at the team and the effort they put in, it can only be technical that I can improve it on, it's certainly not desire and workrate.
"You need a mixture of both so I am looking for someone with a bit of nous who I believe can improve the team through his technical ability."

Leeds United Football Club - Board Refutes Takeover Rumours

The board of Leeds United have responded to media reports that the club may be subject to another takeover.
A report in The Sunday Times claimed that Iraqi businessman Nadhmi Auchi was preparing a bid to buy out the current administration with plans to move the club from Elland Road into a purpose-built stadium.

The Sunday Times (12/09/04) carried an article stating that Mr Nadhmi Auchi has been involved in negotiations to purchase Leeds United Football Club.
The Club can confirm that no such negotiations to buy the Club have taken place with Mr Auchi.

"The board of directors at Leeds United are frustrated that another takeover-based story has appeared in the media without foundation, which only creates uncertainty at a time when they are working to establish a solid foundation for future success at the club.
"As has been previously stated, the club is committed to staying at Elland Road and will continue to examine all opportunities open to them, both in terms of developing the site at Elland Road, around the football stadium, or any investment interest.
"The board remain committed to taking the club forward."

Sunday, September 12, 2004

Times Online - Newspaper Edition

Iraqi billionaire bids to take Leeds back to football big time
David Leppard and Robert Winnett
A CONTROVERSIAL Iraqi billionaire is preparing to buy the ailing Leeds United football club in an attempt to restore it to its former glory.
Nadhmi Auchi, a British-based businessman with a fortune claimed to be worth


£1.3 billion, is drawing up detailed plans to take control of the debt-ridden club. He hopes to move it to a purpose-built stadium, redeveloping the current Elland Road ground to pump millions into the Coca-Cola Championship side.
Yesterday, sources close to Auchi confirmed he was interested in buying the club. One said: “This is one of the most important clubs in the country and Auchi believes he can help the supporters and the local community but still make a profit. Everything now depends on the price.”
A former Ba’ath party member whose brothers were killed by Saddam Hussein’s regime, Auchi left Iraq in the late 1970s to settle in London. He is one of Britain’s wealthiest and best connected citizens, yet maintains a low profile.
Lord Lamont, a former Tory chancellor, sits on the board of Auchi’s holding company and the billionaire hosts regular dinners attended by royals, Middle Eastern leaders and MPs. He has also bought tables at Labour fundraising dinners.
He has quietly built a business empire comprising 120 firms across the world in property, construction and hotels.
However, his business dealings have often proved controversial. Last year, in France, he was convicted of paying kickbacks to the oil firm Elf.
Auchi, who was born in Baghdad in 1937, received a 15- month suspended jail sentence and a £1.39m fine. He says the prosecution was politically motivated and is appealing against it. In Britain, a pharmaceutical firm he owns is co-operating in a criminal investigation by the Serious Fraud Office into an alleged price-fixing cartel involving supplies for the National Health Service.
Auchi’s interest in Leeds is believed to have begun this year when it was about to be relegated from the Premiership after a financial meltdown.
Leeds United was once one of Britain’s most successful football clubs. During its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s, its star players included legends such as Billy Bremner, Jack Charlton and Norman Hunter.
However, the club’s fortunes took a disastrous turn in the 1990s when it invested heavily in players without succeeding on the pitch. It was rescued from administration last February by local businessmen. However, the club was relegated and is languishing in the bottom half of the Championship with estimated debts of £40m.
Auchi is thought to have drawn up a 10-year business plan for Leeds. It involves moving the club and redeveloping the Elland Road ground with flats, shops and community facilities. The ground lies in an attractive area for property developers — close to motorways — and this is thought to have sparked Auchi’s interest.
This weekend Auchi was unavailable for comment but a friend said: “This will be a big redevelopment. He wants to help the community, help a very old established football club and make some money. He wants to be seen to be investing in England and creating jobs.”
Leeds Today

United striker heads north

By Paul Dews
LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell today packed striker Simon Johnson off to Sunderland on loan and declared: "Everyone is a winner with the deal."
The young marksman has joined the Black Cats on a month's loan and Blackwell will be following his progress closely.

Johnson was in the squad for Sunderland's clash with Gillingham today and he will be monitored by Leeds scouts during his stay on Wearside.
Said Blackwell: "This is a great opportunity for Simon and for us. The lad hasn't been involved here and he needs some exposure. This could be a great move for the kid.
"Sunderland will pick up his learning curve which is good for us because we already have quite a lot of young lads learning their trade in our first team and that eases the pressure on us a bit.
"It's also a chance for him to play first division football. Sunderland are getting a good player and it's a move that suits everyone."
Johnson was United's leading scorer in the reserves last term but has yet to figure in Blackwell's first team plans.
The 21-year-old, who has had loan spells with Hull and Blackpool, featured in United's senior squad at the end of the last two seasons but a regular place has proved elusive.
"Simon has come into the first team but struggled and that affected his confidence," said Blackwell. "I wouldn't want to throw him straight back in. This gives him a chance to come back to us with more experience.
Johnson, who won't play against Leeds when the two clubs meet on September 24, follows youngster Martin Woods to the north east.
The midfielder has joined Hartlepool on loan.
Leeds United Football Club - Match Report - Leeds United v Coventry City

Leeds United 3 Coventry City 0
Leeds spoilt former boss Peter Reid's return to Elland Road as Clarke Carlisle and Julian Joachim both scored their first goals for the Whites and top scorer Danny Pugh added a third late on to complete a convincing win.

Goals:

Carlisle 40, Joachim 71, Pugh 90

Teams:

United: Sullivan, Kelly, Crainey, Carlisle, Butler, Wright, Joachim (Ricketts 90), Pugh, Richardson, Walton, Deane (McMaster 85). Subs not used: Carson, Spring, Duberry.
Coventry: Shearer, Staunton (Barrett 78), Hughes, Morrell, Sherwood, Johnson (Suffo 45), Doyle, Wood (Whing 78), Carey, Shaw, Leacock. Subs not used: Steele, Gudjonsson,

Pre-match

United boss Kevin Blackwell made two changes to the starting line-up from the side that lost at Sheffield United a fortnight ago.

Stephen Crainey made a quicker than expected recovery from a hamstring injury to keep his place at left-back, the Scot underwent a late fitness test and was selected ahead of Matthew Kilgallon despite having barely trained in the past fortnight.

At the back Blackwell made a change by dropping Michael Duberry in favour of Clarke Carlisle alongside skipper Paul Butler, whilst Simon Walton came into midfield again with Michael Ricketts missing out upfront as the Leeds boss went with Joachim and Deane.

Coventry City made just one change to their side that beat West Ham 2-1 away with their new loan signing Dean Leacock replacing the recently departed Calum Davenport.

The Match

Peter Reid received a fantastic reception from the Leeds fans as he made his return to Elland Road some ten months after losing the job his former No 2, Kevin Blackwell, now holds.

It was the visitors who started best and Stephen Crainey was forced to turn the ball away for a corner inside the first minute of the game. Neil Wood's cross into the area was at danger of being turned in by Coventry at the back post before Crainey's interception.

Frazer Richardson was overlooked during Peter Reid's reign at Elland Road and the winger looked to be inspired by the chance to prove Reid he was wrong to not consider him.

Twice Richardson weaved his way in and out of Coventry's defence on the edge of the area in a style that has seen him compared to Harry Kewell at his prime. He would have rounded one of the moves off with a goal if Shaw had not reacted in time to block the shot.

Another man with something to show was Julian Joachim. The striker spent three years at Highfield Road before his move to Leeds and he came close to punishing his former employers with a header inside the first eight minutes that was deflected over the bar by Shaw for a corner.

From it Frazer Richardson received the ball 25-yards out from goal and hit a fierce drive that flew close enough to the target to cause Shearer some concern.

Danny Pugh was booked after 13 minutes for an off the ball incident with Sky Blues midfielder Micky Doyle in which he appeared to catch him on the face.

Leeds were gradually taking control of the game but again the key element of goals was all that was lacking.

Another chance came and went on 18 minutes as Richardson laid ball into Joachim's feet who had taken up position ten yards out, he then played Deane in on the right of the area but the striker's return ball was easily cut out by visiting keeper Scott Shearer.

Most of Leeds threat was coming down the right hand flank and when Richardson's pace took him well clear of the Coventry defence on 20 minutes the crowd braced themselves for the opening goal, but with defender Dean Leacock having lost his footing inside the penalty are, Richardson opted for the cross instead of the shot and it proved to be the wrong option.

Coventry then came back at Leeds and could count themselves unlucky not to take the lead during a good five minute spell in which they forced Sullivan into a double save and then hit the woodwork.

Sullivan was forced to charge down the ball to deny Wood and then produced a good save to turn away a shot from a narrow angle by Andy Morrell. Micky Doyle then hit the bar from 30-yards with a left foot shot that caught everyone off-guard.

Leeds turned it around though and finally got their reward six minutes before half time when Clarke Carlisle scored his first goal for the club.

A free-kick from Jermaine Wright was delivered towards the far edge of the box where Carlisle rose superbly to power his header back across the face of goal and into the corner of the net.

The popular defender loved the moment and from Leeds point of view he had scored at a time when the visitors were starting to get back on top.

It should have been 2-0 barely a minute later when Pugh put the ball back across the face of goal and somehow Joachim missed it with a virtually empty net infront of him.

Coventry made one change at half-time bringing on former Sheffield United striker Patrick Suffo for Eddie Johnson. Kevin Blackwell kept his side as it was.

Neil Sullivan was the first keeper to be called into action in the second half as he got down well to save a shot from Luis Carey that threatened to sneak in, but otherwise it was a quiet start to the second half.

Nine minutes after the restart Paul Butler could have made it 2-0 when he met Jermaine Wright's cross from a corner, but the skipper sent his downwards header just wide of the right hand post.

Coventry should have equalised when Wood got away from Crainey and delivered a cross straight to the head of substitute Patrick Suffo who headed over from six yards out, and his protests for a penalty were quickly waved away.

On 67 minutes Joachim was presented with another chance to score but he headed Richardson's cross wide from about ten yards out.

He didn't have long to wait though as a minute later the forward finally broke his goalscoring duck - and against his old team to boot.

A cross from the left was met by Jermaine Wright's powerful downwards header that wasn't held by the keeper and Joachim pounced to stab the ball in from close range. It didn't matter how it went in, what was important was that a Leeds striker had finally scored a league goal for the club.

It also effectively made the points safe for Leeds and they could play more relaxed with that cushion behind them.

Coventry's problems mounted when a minute after the goal Luis Carey was sent off for his second bookable offence.

Carey had been booked in the first half for a tackle on Pugh and when he hacked the same player down on 72 minutes there was little doubt he would be leaving the field for an early bath.

There was still time for Danny Pugh to jump into the lead as the club's leading scorer with a third goal of the season and United's third on the day right at the end of extra time.

Jermaine Wright's 20-yard volley wasn't held by the Coventry keeper and Pugh was presented with a simple chance all alone at the back post and found the net via the post.

It made Peter Reid's misery complete as Kevin Blackwell got one over his old boss.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

Leeds United Football Club - Blackwell Awaits Transfer Developments

Blackwell Awaits Transfer Developments
United boss Kevin Blackwell is still waiting to hear if he can add to the squad ahead of Saturday's home tie with Coventry City.

Blackwell has been pursuing West Bromwich Albion midfielder Sean Gregan and has also turned his attention to Birmingham City striker Stern John, and remains optimistic that deals can be completed to bring both players to the club.

The boss has also hinted that they might not be the end of his rebuilding process at the club this season, with more targets lined up and the board working hard to make more funds available for his work in the transfer market.

Blackwell explained his interest in both players:

"Stern John and Sean Gregan are both players we are interested in and they are clearly linked with Leeds United for the right reasons.

"Gregan is keen to come to Leeds and he's the type of player I believe will be a major addition to our midfield. He commands midfield and is very comfortable on the ball.

"Stern came over from America where he had an excellent scoring record and he continued to do well at Nottingham Forest, his record there got him noticed by Birmingham City and he has continued to get goals in the Premiership.

"So clearly these two players meet the criteria we are looking for, and if we can bring one or both those players in then it will be a boost for the club."

The situation with Gregan though remains unchanged. Leeds have made several bids for the player which have not been accepted by his club West Bromwich Albion but United's interest in the player remains and the clubs are trying to reach an agreement.

Leeds have agreed a fee with Birmingham City for Stern John, as have this weekend's opponents, Coventry City. The club have been in touch with the players representative and are still awaiting an indication from the player as to whether he would want to move to Elland Road.

John is currently with the Trinidad and Tobago squad preparing for his country's World Cup qualifier against Mexico in Port of Spain tonight.