Saturday, December 31, 2005

Dougie Double: United 2 Hull 0

A double from Jonathan Douglas gave Leeds their third straight win in an entertaining derby with Hull in front of the biggest crowd Elland Road his seen this season.

United boss Kevin Blackwell made two changes to the side that beat Stoke on Wednesday night, one of the changes forced on him through injury.
Left-back Dan Harding took a knock that he failed to recover from in time and he missed the chance to impress at first hand the England under-21 coach, Peter Taylor, manager of the opposition. Stephen Crainey came in for his first start since September.
The other change saw David Healy, somewhat withdrawn in recent games, dropped to the bench with Liam Miller coming in on the right hand side of midfield.
Hull had a surprise of their own for Leeds, dropping former United and England midfielder Nick Barmby to the bench on his first return to Elland Road.

The Match
A crowd of 26,387 turned up to watch the game and were not disappointed, well at least the 25,000 Leeds fans weren't as Leeds finished the year on a high with their third consecutive win.The opening quarter hour of this match produced little in terms of good scoring chances as both teams looked to sound each other out.
It was the visitors who just shaded it in terms of pressure, and it wth barely a minute gone Whites skipper Paul Butler was forced to pull off a good tackle on Craig Fagan to deny the Hull forward a shot on goal from inside the penalty area.
Richard Cresswell's first effort saw him put his shot high and over from a good position on the edge of the box.
Then Billy Paynter let fly with a shot from 20-yards that Neil Sullivan did well to tip over for a corner. The pressure continued as Delaney then got in a low drive that Sullivan got well behind to pull off a comfortable save.
On 16 minutes Robbie Blake showed a good turn of pace with a bit of trickery to lose his marker inside the box but his second touch just took the ball too far in front of him and the chance was gone.
Two minutes later Paul Butler was the first man booked for a challenge from behind on Fagan, referee Andy Hall laying down the law early on.
Leed should have gone ahead with 22 minutes played but Jonathan Douglas squandered a great chance. He started the move and found Robbie Blake motoring down the right hand touch-line, Blake saw no way through on the edge of the area but played a perfect ball across the face of goal for Douglas to hit first time, the shot though went hopelessly wide.
If Douglas's miss was poor then what followed from Blake was almost criminal.
A Hull attack broke down when right back Mark Lynch was left as the last man and failed to get the ball away in time before Cresswell won the tackle on him to leave Robbie Blake with a clear run on goal from the halfway line. With just the keeper to beat, Blake, normally deadly from anywhere in the box, failed to beat Boaz Myhill in the Hull goal with his shot, the ball rebounding off the keeper's legs.
Leeds should have been two goals up before the half-hour and were instead hoping the two misses would not turn out to cost them dearly.
Punishment is exactly what nearly happened too as Hull forward Fagan hit the crossbar with a curling shot from just outside the box.
United stepped up the pressure and how the deadlock was not broken before half-time became something of a mystery with Leeds then Hull
Shaun Derry hit one from 30-yards that really tested the keeper and the midfielder nearly had his first goal of the season, and his first in eight months.
Blake then volleyed a cross from outside the area but the keeper was again equal to it but a better chance fell to him second later when he met Kelly's cross from the right on the half-volley and just went wide of the left hand post. Eddie Lewis then saw his attempt deflected narrowly wide.
Still Hull nearly went ahead after being let-off for the sixth time with Fagan passing up a great chance this time. The ball broke favourably to him just on the right of the penalty area and he had a clear shot on goal but his drive produced a fantastic save by Sullivan.
A minute into injury time and the Hull defence finally yielded. A long ball forward from Kilgallon was controlled brilliantly by Blake and his simply played the ball outside to his right for Douglas to take the shot and this time the keeper was beaten by a low drive across the face of goal.
At half-time Leeds had the goal they deserved but Blackwell will have been concerned about the odd clear cut chances they were still affording Hull.
Seven minutes into the second half and Leeds were desperately unlucky not to double their lead when Cresswell cut inside and hit a right foot curling shot that came back off the right hand post. Blake won free-kick on the edge of the area after being brought down by Elliott, but the free-kick was curled into the keeper's arms by Lewis.
Another free-kick, this time from Blake 35-yards out was just diverted behind at the very last second by Myhill but he wouldn't keep Leeds out again for much longer.
Lewis took the corner and it caused mayhem for Hull as the ball bounced on top of the bar twice, both times after Cresswell got a touch and finally it was nodded in from point-blank range by Douglas for his second goal of the game.
Two goals up Leeds were all over the visitors and nearly scored a third when Cresswell got behind the back four again but couldn't quite pick Miller out with the pass.
Neil Sullivan was something of a bystander in the second half but he was called into action on 66 minutes to pluck a Keith Andrews free-kick out of the air.
Leeds kept pressing for a third and nearly got it when Cresswell turned Lewis's cross just wide of the goal. Cresswell did get the ball in the net only for the goal to be ruled out. His shot took a deflection off Myhill that saw the ball bounce up and over the keeper and just sneak into the top corner, but the referee spotted a push from Blake on a defender before he could cut the ball out. With twelve minutes remaining Leeds made a double substitution that must be the envy of all the Championship when they brought both David Healy and Rob Hulse on. Cresswell and Blake made way for the strikers who have 16 goals between them this season. Danny Pugh came on a few minutes later to complete the changes, replacing Stephen Crainey.
Hull made a final change of their own, and it was one the Leeds fans had been looking forward to as they got the chance to taunt former Whites midfielder Nick Barmby. He came on to chants of 'what a waste of money', having failed to impress after his £2.75m move to Elland Road that last one season.
David Healy could have got his name on the scoresheet right on the 90th minute when a clearance from the keeper fell right to him and with Myhill well off his line he tried to chip the ball in but it landed just behind the goal.The points were secure though and there were no complaints from anyone inside Elland Road about the result as Leeds wrapped up their third win of the festive season.

Friday, December 30, 2005

2005 A Watershed Year For Leeds United

United boss Kevin Blackwell believes staying in business was the club's greatest achievement of 2005.
The club was facing the imminent threat of being made insolvent when Chairman Ken Bates strode into Elland Road and completed his takeover with the minimum of fuss.
At the time Blackwell was battling to improve United's fortunes on the field and he admits he, like most people, had no idea just how grave the situation was at the time.
"Being here right now is our greatest achievement of 2005," said Blackwell today in his office at Thorp Arch.
"Beating the winding up order on the 24th of January must be it because if we had not beaten that we would not be here today.
"I think will show how much of a D-Day that was for Leeds United because at the time even I wasn't aware of the gravity of the situation to the point where on the Monday we would not have been able to train at Thorp Arch because the doors would have been locked.
"2005 has been a real watershed for this football club."
Blackwell is happy to leave 2005 behind but he hopes 2006 gives Leeds United a chance to draw a line under the troubles of the previous four seasons when the club - players, staff and supporters - began to pay a heavy price for a dream that never materialised.
"We have to keep making progress, we can't allow ourselves to stand still because people will start to go past us.
"Clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Derby and Bradford have never dealt with the debt and they've had to carry that debt on and it's killed them. So people have to give this club credit for grabbing the debt by the horns and dealing with it. It has meant major surgery and that sometimes takes longer to recover from.
"But what we have done is a minor miracle because we were badly injured but we've come back a lot quicker than anyone expected us to. "What we have to do now is remain at the top end of the table to give us the best chance of getting back in the Premier League as quick as we can."

Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sully Does It Again! Stoke 0 United 1

A goal from Eddie Lewis was enough to give Leeds a well earned win at the Britannia Stadium after Neil Sullivan had earlier made a crucial penalty save for the Whites.
United boss Kevin Blackwell was able to name the same side that beat Coventry City 3-1 for the game at the Britannia Stadium.
It meant that despite Manchester United loan signing Liam Miller being available after suspension, another on-loan midfielder, Blackburn's Jonathan Douglas kept his place. Miller meanwhile had to be content with a place on the bench.
Stoke meanwhile included former Leeds defender Michael Duberry for what was his first game against his former club. The £4.5m signing has settled well in the Potteries and the Stoke captain was certainly out to put one over his old team-mates.
The game saw Stoke's largest crowd of the season at 20,408 turn out with United once again proving a big draw.

The Match
Leeds saw plenty of early possession but were unable to test Stoke keeper Steve Simonsen with it. Their first chance from a set-piece two minutes into the action saw a corner from Kelly go straight into the keeper's arms
A minute later there were appeals for handball as Blake tried to get past his man inside the area but nothing was forthcoming from referee Mark Halsey who was in the perfect position to make judgement.
Stoke's first shot on target came after seven minutes, Dave Brammer, a former team-mate of Rob Hulse's at Crewe, who formed Sullivan to make a smartish save down to his right.
Another nervous moment followed when Sullivan's clearance was charged down by Mamady Sidibe, but the United No 1 was fortunate that the ball spun up and landed in his favour despite the close attention of the big striker. Stoke dangerman Sam Bangoura tried to beat Sullivan from a narrow angle but the shot from the striker who had previously scored eight goals in just ten starts went well over.
Good work inside the box saw Lewis lay the ball off to Cresswell who laid the ball off for Douglas and the midfielder was denied his second goal in as many games by a crucial block from Michael Duberry.
With 18 minutes on the clock the Stoke fans celebrating after the whistle went for a penalty. It was given after Sullivan was unable to hold onto a shot and Kelly bundled Sidibe over as he went for the ball inside the six yard box.
Paul Gallagher stepped up to take the spot-kick and gave Sullivan, the hero so many times last season in the same situation with four penalty saves, to do his magic again.
The former Scottish international didn't disappoint the 2,500 Leeds fans in the stand behind him as he produced another top notch save to deny Gallagher, guessing the right way and diving down to his left to knock away the low drive.
Luke Chadwick was the first player to be booked when he pulled back Eddie Lewis as the winger threatened to set something up for Leeds midway inside the Stoke half.
Leeds had a great chance five minutes before the break when Blake cut inside from the right wing and fired a shot in across the face of the box that was blocked as far as Douglas just inside the area but the Republic of Ireland international put his shot inches wide of the left hand post.
At half time Kevin Blackwelll would have been very pleased with the way his side competed, and would expect them to start turning up the pressure with the game theirs for the taking with a bit more adventure.
No changes to the two sides at half time, but there was a change of referee. Mark Halsey suffered an injury before the break and the fourth official took over.
Stoke put United under some severe pressure in the first five minutes of the second half but the defence showed their mettle and simply batted away anything that came their way.
Matthew Kilgallon showed how far he's come as a defender with a first class tackle on Gallagher inside the area to break up Stoke's best move.
United's first chance of the half saw Blake put in a cross that Cresswell met with a header to try and turn the ball in under the bar, but the keeper was able to pluck it out of the air with no trouble.
David Healy came close with a drive that narrowly missed the target after a great lay-off from Blake gave him a clear shot on goal.
In a surprising move Healy then made way for Liam Miller in what appeared to be a tactical switch.
Stoke came close straight afterwards when Brammer smashed a drive against Paul Butler and the rebound was knocked just over by Darel Russell.
Leeds got the breakthrough their play deserved on 69 minutes with a relatively simple goal. Douglas' cross came in, Cresswell missed it but not Eddie Lewis who smashed the ball home with his weaker right foot.
After defeat on their previous away game at Wolves, Leeds had a great chance to maintain what is a great away record and keep up the pressure on Sheffield United.
Two minutes after breaking the deadlock Lewis went charging through on goal but Duberry just managed to push him off the ball inside the area and the USA international's claims for a penalty were waved away.
Gallagher picked up a booking with ten minutes remaining for a rash challenge on Matthew Kilgallon that left the defender in some pain on the deck.
Rob Hulse then made his entrance into the game, coming on for Robbie Blake who had worked the Stoke defence with every twist and turn in what was another hard working performance from the former Birmingham City striker. Sullivan produced more heroics when Stoke substitute Hannes Sigurdsson looked set to score with a fierce drive but Sullivan managed to get a hand to the ball and turn it behind for a corner that he later dealt with.
The match sponsor's decision to give the man of the match award to Michael Duberry met with cheeky chants of 'you're having a laugh' from United's travelling support.
Rob Hulse could have put the result beyond doubt for Leeds when Liam Miller sent over a great cross that the striker directed goalwards but straight at the keeper.
Right on the stroke of the end of normal time Stoke had their best chance of the half when the ball fell for Duberry inside the six yard box and somehow the defender managed to hit the underside of the bar and the ball came crashing back out and was eventually cleared to safety by Kelly.
It would have been rough on Leeds to concede at the death after working so hard for the win, but hold on they did and with the three points moved back into third spot in the table. Sheffield United watch out.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

Leeds post victory
By Garry Doolan
Leeds United 3 Coventry City 1
The Times

MISFORTUNE COMBINED with misdemeanour to condemn Coventry City to their first defeat in four matches. The visiting team hit the woodwork four times and missed a penalty, but still could have won had woeful defending not fatally undermined them in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Elland Road.
Micky Adams, the Coventry manager, rued the intervention of the goal frame at the ground where he was once a hero. “We created the chances and have been very unfortunate,” he said. “We dominated possession and certainly frustrated Leeds, but, if you hit the post and the crossbar as many times as us, there is a feeling it is not going to be your day.”
Even Sam Ellis, the Leeds assistant manager, was forced to concede some measure of support for Coventry. “They certainly top the table for hitting the post and bar,” he said. “It is usually us complaining about that bad luck in front of goal, so we know exactly how they must feel.”
Jonathan Douglas, the midfield player, put Leeds in front against the run of play in the 34th minute and Coventry deserved the stunning equaliser provided by Don Hutchison, the midfield player on loan from Millwall, in the 57th minute. Hutchison instigated a neat interchange on the left flank with Richard Duffy before hitting a half- volley beyond Neil Sullivan.
But Coventry’s glaring inability to defend with any conviction was cruelly exposed just 90 seconds later when Robbie Blake, the forward, restored Leeds’ advantage with his fifth goal of the season. Richard Cresswell added a third ten minutes from time with his first goal of the season, before Gary McSheffrey hit the bar with a late penalty for Coventry.

Monday, December 26, 2005

Merry Christmas after all: United 3 Coventry 1

An action packed affair at Elland Road saw Leeds return to winning ways thanks to goals from Jonathan Douglas, Robbie Blake and Richard Cresswell - his first league goal for the club. Three points made for the perfect present for Kevin Blackwell's men.

Manager Kevin Blackwell was forced to reshuffle his pack again after a rash of suspensions ruled Liam Miller and Simon Walton out.
Gary Kelly did return from his one match ban though to take up his position at right-back in place of Walton, whilst Miller's absence saw another loan signing, Blackburn's Jonathan Douglas, return to the starting line up for the first time in seven games.
Shaun Derry had been a pre-match doubt after going down with a virus but he was able to shake it off in time to keep his place in midfield, whilst Rob Hulse recovered sufficiently from his hip problem to take his place on the bench.

The Match
The biggest crowd of the season so far, 24,291, turned out at Elland Road to see if Leeds would deliver a few late presents in the form of three more points.
Coventry were the first to threaten and hit the woodwork in the seventh minute when Leeds were showing a bit too too much festive goodwill to the visitors.
They escaped when Richard Duffy's left wing cross was met on the run by Dele Adebola and the big striker's header had the beating of Neil Sullivan in the Whites goal but not his left hand post.
Leed had their own good chance straight away though and David Healy will have wished to have done better when he headed Blake's cross across the face of goal but wide of the target.
United went close again just before the quarter hour mark after Blake's pass was cut out but inadvertantly knocked towards the Coventry goal where it was a race between Richard Cresswell and Sky Blues keeper Martin Fulop to get to the ball. It was the keeper who won, just getting down in time to smother the shot.
And the Whites went even closer seconds later when a low ball to the edge of the area was flicked goalwards by Douglas and was just inches the wrong side of the post.
Kevin Blackwell has spent a long time instilling confidence in his defence to have a pop at goal when the opportunity presents itself, and a bit more luck and left-back Dan Harding would have had his first Leeds United goal. His goalbound shot took a deflection but the loose ball nearly fell for Healy but the Ulsterman just couldn't turn in time to get the shot away.
Shaun Derry was the first player booked when he caught veteran striker Don Hutchison. Hutchison, who had already made one visit to Elland Road this season with former club Millwall, then went in the referee's notebook himself for a foul on Cresswell.
Leeds had been knocking on the door for a long time and eventually Coventry let them in as they took the lead with just over ten minutes to go to half-time.
It was a simple goal that owed as much to some absent Coventry defending as it did a good finish from Jonathan Douglas.
The ball was crossed in from the left wing by Healy, Cresswell managed to climb high for the header and knocked it down where Douglas volleyed it home from seven yards out.
Coventry were not here just to provide festive cheer, they had a cutting edge to them and twice came close with some excellent long range shots.
The first was a 25-yard drive from Gary McSheffrey that forced Sullivan to turn the ball behind for a corner, then Andy Morrell hit a rasping shot from ten yards further that came back off the post. Coventry hit the woodwork for a third time through Whing from a corner and they were getting steadily closer to an equaliser.
Inbetween the Coventry chances the game stumbled as the referee seemed intent on stealing the limelight. McSheffrey was booked, Sullivan followed for apparently time wasting and a few more escaped with a ticking off.
At half-time this game was still there to be won, even with Leeds having the goal advantage.
Coventry kicked-off the second half and picked up where they had left off in the first but threatening Sullivan's goal again. They hit the post once more with Duffy's second long range drive.
Having tried their luck all game with some speculative shooting - and close all the same - it perhaps shouldn't have been too much of a surprise when they did equalise with a long range shot.
But the manner of the goal did send a shockwave around Elland Road and it was almost disbelief that Don Hutchison should attempt to score from 40-yards out by the left hand touchline. Yet score he did as the ball flew over Sullivan and found the far top corner.
The visitors celebrations had barely calmed down though when Leeds put their noses in front again with a far more orthodox goal. It was might not have been as spectacular but it was well worked and couldn't have come at a better time as Healy pulled the ball back across the face of goal and Blake 10 yards out smashed it home into the roof of the net.
Leeds wrapped up the points with ten minutes left when space opened up in the Coventry defence for them and Blake took the ball forward before releasing Cresswell and the striker did everything right as he held off his man and planted a low drive into the far corner.
It was Cresswell's first Elland Road goal and it came as a huge relief to the former Preston man, back from two and a half month's out with a knee injury.
Robbie Blake went off to a standing ovation and it was good to see his replacement, Rob Hulse, back in action after his own injury doubts.
This game had everything in it and the drama wasn't over when the Sky Blues were handed a life-line with eight minutes remaining. Butler conceded a penalty by hauling down Michael Doyle inside the area after the midfielder had just slipped past him. McSheffrey stepped up to take it and a deafening noise grew up from the Kop - it worked perfectly as the striker blasted his shot onto the crossbar! That was really Coventry's last chance to get back into the game and Leeds knew at that point that the points were in the back, even as Kilgallon picked up a late booking as he brought Whing's surging run to a halt some five yards short of the penalty area. Cresswell could have made it 4-1 before the end but three quality goals for Leeds were more than good enough as the crowd left satisfied with their Boxing Day entertainment.

Triumph out of tragedy - new pages uploaded at

I've just uploaded my review of the Fairs Cup game between Torino and Leeds United on 6 October 1965

Leeds' first foray into European competition sees them emerge triumphant, although success was achieved at the grievous expense of the loss of captain Bobby Collins

Read the full story at

Sunday, December 18, 2005

Wolves 1 Leeds 0: Ganea beats clueless Leeds
Sunday Times
Ivo Tennant at Molineux

FOR Wolverhampton Wanderers, a victory more straightforward than would be apparent from the scoreline. This was primarily because Leeds United created only one opening all afternoon and then had Simon Walton sent off late in the second half. Viorel Ganea, injury-prone for so long, scored his fifth goal of the season in front of a crowd of 26,821 that was the biggest at Molineux this season.
Ganea, who missed last season because of a cruciate ligament injury, is out of contract in the summer. Nobody doubts his ability — not least England at Euro 2000 — but his age, 32, is against him. Do not bank on him being around next season, whether or not Wolves have reached the Premiership. For the time being, though, he has plenty to commend him.
A series of draws before this match and an initial shortage of transfers would suggest that Wolves have been falling back on defence to too great a degree. Not so, even if there was understandable circumspection against the club who brought an end to their record unbeaten run between January and August. Wolves’ football has remained fluent, intricate and something to be relished.
They had but two chances before their opening goal. First, Lee Naylor, overlapping down the left wing, had a left-footed drive parried at full stretch by Neil Sullivan, who was the butt of considerable chanting from the Wolves supporters.
Next, Tom Huddlestone and Ganea struck the bar in succession, the former from 20 yards and the forward following up and watching his deflected strike come back off the woodwork.
This was the precursor to Ganea’s goal seven minutes before the interval. Naylor crossed from the left towards Seol Ki Hyeon, who misplaced his attempted pass straight to the Romanian a few yards from goal. The finish was a simple affair and Wolves’ lead was eminently deserved.
“With 22 games still to go, who is to say somebody isn’t going to go on a run like the ones Sheffield United and Reading have enjoyed in the first half of the campaign?” asked Wolves manager Glenn Hoddle.
“When we hit the woodwork twice, I wondered whether it would be another of those days. But we have gone up the table and have a good foundation for the Christmas period.”
As for Leeds, there was just the one opening before half-time: a cross from Eddie Lewis found Matthew Kilgallon, who was foiled by Stefan Postma. So, too, from the rebound, was David Healy, who struck the goalkeeper’s legs.
This pattern did not change after the interval, when once again Wolves were in the ascendancy. Seol chested the ball down on the far side of the penalty area and attempted to hook a volley past Sullivan when he might have done better to have taken his chance instantaneously. Ganea then opted to shoot when he should have pushed the ball square to Kenny Miller.
Later, a header by Ganea from Seol’s right-wing cross went on to the roof of the net. By now, late in the second half, Leeds had made scant impression and were unlikely to do so after the 84th minute, when Walton was sent off for a second bookable offence — a blatant barge against Miller, who was outstripping him by the touchline.
“I was disappointed with this decision and a lot of people were surprised,” said Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell. “Walton, who was playing in an unfamiliar position at right- back, was absolutely distraught at being sent off. He takes things to heart.”
The dismissal made certain there would be no comeback of the kind Leeds managed in that extraordinary fixture against Southampton. Indeed, they finished the afternoon doing well to retain possession, let alone trouble Postma. It had been apparent for some time that this was not to be their afternoon.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Whites Bitten: Wolves 1 United 0

United went down to a single goal at Molineux but Kevin Blackwell's patched up side still put up a good fight against the Wolves.

United boss Kevin Blackwell made three changes for the trip to Molineux from the side that lost at home to Cardiff, two of them were forced on him.
Striker Rob Hulse received a painkilling injection at the start of the week to help soften the impact of a hip injury he has been playing with, but even that was not enough to ease the pain and Leeds decided enough pressure had been put on the forward.
He was forced to miss the game and the indications now are that he will undergo an operation next week to find a final solution to the injury.
His place was taken by fit-again striker Richard Cresswell, just back from spending the past two and a half months out after rupturing a tendon in his knee. His only competitive action before this game since returning to fitness was 45 minutes for the reserves in midweek.
Elsewhere, there was another body returning from injury in the form of Shaun Derry. Derry was back ten days early from a hamstring injury and he took over from Sean Gregan in midfield. The final change was at the back where the absence of Gary Kelly through suspension and Frazer Richardson through injury forced Blackwell to go into the game without a specialist right-back. The job went to youngster Simon Walton, whose last foray in the position was in last season's nightmare against Sheffield United when Leeds were hammered 4-0 and he was substituted before half-time.

The Match
The home side had the first opportunity to take the lead after just five minutes.
Lescott fluffed his chance 12-yards out but Wolves were still able to test Sullivan when Lee Naylor seized onto the loose ball and got a shot off on target that Sullivan managed to tip away and Kilgallon shepharded away to safety.
Leeds missed their first chance to work the keeper two minutes later when Richard Cresswell was able to get a connection on a corner after he was picked out well inside the area.
There was more danger for United when South Korean hitman Seol sent in a low cross from the right and Leeds were fortunate that Wolves Romanian international striker Vio Ganea was unable to get a touch on the ball four yards out.
Leeds had a good ten minute spell just before the half hour mark when they rarely let Wolves get out of their own half, but still they were not able to create any real openings to lead to a goal.
The nearest they came was when Healy drove his cross away and Postma in the Wolves goal was just able to get a hand to the ball to take it away from the waiting Cresswell and Liam Miller.
Ten minutes before the break Leeds should have had the breakthrough as Matthew Kilgallon came close twice.
First the defender met Lewis's cross at the back post with a crashing header just four yards out but it hit the post and then Postma pulled off a great block before Healy tried to squeese the loose ball in but the keeper just managed to turn it behind.
From the corner the ball was driven across face of goal and Kilgallon was inches away from turning it in.
That was the catalyst the game needed to spring into life, and Wolves found themselves twice frustrated by the woodwork as they took their turn to enjoy a spell of pressure.
Huddlestone's rasping shot from the edge of the area hit the bar, Sullivan knocked it clear but only as far as Ganea and Sullivan again managed to get a slight touch to turn it onto the woodwork again.
There was little that Sullivan or the woodwork could do on 38 minutes when the home side did break the deadlock.
Naylor's cross found Seol and he mishit his shot inside the area but it fell nicely for Ganea who simply placed it past Sullivan froom six yards out.
Leeds went into the break a goal down and with a fight on their hands to avoid defeat. Neither side made a change at half-time and the onus was on Leeds to come out and try to rescue the game.
Ten minutes into the half and Ricketts was tripped by Miller two yards out from the penalty area and fortunately Darren Anderton was well wide with the free-kick.
On the hour Robbie Blake's free-kick found Healy on the left of the penalty area and the striker looked well placed for the shot but chose to try and chip the ball into the six yard box instead and the chance went begging.
Dan Harding then picked up his second yellow card of the season for a foul on Seol.
Wolves broke well on 62 minutes and only Butler throwing himself in the way of Ganea's shot prevented them from extending their lead.
Simon Walton was the next player to pick up a booking with Wolves gradually turning up the pressure on Leeds as they chased a second goal to kill the game off.
Blackwell made his first change on 68 minutes, bringing a tired looking Richard Cresswell off and bringing Ian Moore on.
Dan Harding was tripped five yard short of the penalty area, giving Robbie Blake the chance to try his luck with the free-kick but it hit the wall and went behind for a corner which Leeds wasted.
Wolves made their first change with 12 minutes left, bringing on Colin Cameron for the goalscorer, Vio Ganea.
Leeds nearly caught Wolves out on 80 minutes when Lewis delivered a waist height cross from the left that the keeper was only able to punch clear - just beyond the reach of Robbie Blake.
United's task got considerably header when they were reduced to ten men after Simon Walton was sent off for two bookable offences, his last coming when he tried to block the run of Naylor.
It looked a harsh decision on the youngster who had fared reasonably well in the alien position of right-back. Kevin Blackwell's protests on the touchline had little effect on changing the referee's decision.
Naylor was then booked for taking the free-kick before he was given permission to do so.
Jonathan Douglas came on for Dan Harding with just five minutes remaining but Leeds had run out of ideas and the prospect of getting a point out of the game was remote.
Liam Miller picked up a booking in injury time - his fifth of the season - and now faces a one match ban. Time ran out for Leeds at the end and they were left to lick their wounds after another defeat - the first time they have lost two games back to back this season.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Leeds 0 Cardiff 1: Ridsdale has last laugh
Richard Rae at Elland Road
Sunday Times

PETER RIDSDALE can be accused of many things, but the man whose financial profligacy was responsible, most Leeds United fans believe, for almost driving their club out of existence, does not lack nerve.
Now deputy chairman at Cardiff City, he turned up at his old stamping ground smiling, waving and ignoring the chants that suggested he might be less than welcome. The variety and venom of those chants can only have made the satisfaction of seeing his new club prevail all the greater. It was unfortunate for Ridsdale, although only in one respect, that the first half was one in which the Leeds supporters needed no encouragement to turn their attention from the pitch to the directors’ box, because for a team coming into the game with the confidence that stemmed from having won their previous four matches, they were appalling.
Dave Jones’s decision to start with what was essentially a five-man midfield, albeit with Jason Koumas playing in the hole behind solitary striker Cameron Jerome, flummoxed Leeds from the start. Had Cardiff been a little less cautious, they would have won surely by more than the single goal scored by Koumas after half an hour.
Joe Ledley had volleyed Rhys Weston’s cross into Neil Sullivan’s stomach from close range and Jerome headed a Koumas cross just wide when the palpably unfit Sean Gregan fouled Koumas as he ran towards the Leeds penalty area. The Wales international picked himself up and curled the free kick around the Leeds wall and beyond Sullivan.
STAR MAN: Jason Koumas (Cardiff City)
Player ratings: Leeds United: Sullivan 5, Kelly 5, Butler 6, Kilgallon 5, Harding 5 (Pugh 56min, 5), Healy 4, Miller 6, Gregan 3 (Douglas 68min, 5), Lewis 6, Hulse 5, Blake 4 (Moore 75min, 5)
Cardiff City: Alexander 6, Weston 6, Cox 6, Loovens 6, Barker 6, Cooper 6 (Ardley 83min, 5), Whitley 6, Boland 6, Ledley 6, Koumas 8, Jerome 7
Scorer: Cardiff City: Koumas 30
Referee: G Salisbury Attendance: 20,597

Monday, December 05, 2005

Licence to thrill pays dividends
Yorkshire Post
Money well spent as Bates gets ideal birthday present
Richard Sutcliffe at Elland Road
Leeds United 2Leicester City 1

AS Ken Bates tucked into his birthday lunch surrounded by family and friends at Elland Road yesterday, he will have been able to reflect contentedly on the progress being made by Leeds United. A fourth consecutive league win, the first time Leeds have enjoyed such a rewarding run of results since the closing weeks of the 2000-01 season, was enough to nudge United up to the highest position of Kevin Blackwell's reign.
There is a genuine air of optimism surrounding the club with the manner of the victory over an attack-minded Leicester side offering further proof that the growing confidence of supporters and players alike is not misplaced.
Blackwell's policy of recruting proven goal-scoring talent – he has spent more than £3.5m on his four frontline strikers – meant against the Foxes the United manager was able to adopt a formation he favoured for much of last season. Unlike last term, however, when it more resembled a 4-5-1 line-up with David Healy invariably marooned on the left just in front of the United full-back, this time around it is a much more fluent three-man attack with Healy and Robbie Blake either side of Rob Hulse.
This was never more apparent than during the closing stages when, despite Leicester having the ball in the home side's half, United's shape remained unaltered with the trio of strikers able to concentrate on causing problems for the visitors' defence.
Such an adventurous approach invariably gives the opposition more licence to attack, Neil Sullivan was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the first half when denying Elvis Hammond, Ryan Smith and Joey Gudjonsson. The former Scotland international was also fortunate when a header by Patrick McCarthy rebounded off the crossbar against the back of his head before bouncing behind to safety.
But the plus side of a three-man attack is the amount of chances it creates with Leeds striking the crossbar twice through Eddie Lewis and Hulse, and Blake thought he had won a first-half penalty when Patrik Gerrbrand appeared to handle. Hulse, who has not scored in nine games, twice went close as United poured forward and Liam Miller was unfortunate to see a 25-yard volley bounce just wide.
A three-man attack inevitably put pressure on the Leeds midfield and Leicester battled hard to utilise their one-man advantage. The trio of Eddie Lewis, Miller and Simon Walton refused to be over-run, though, with the on-loan Miller in particular using the ball intelligently.
Walton also impressed on his first start since April with a mature display from the 18-year-old ensuring Leicester were never truly able to utilise their superior numbers. The teenager made 30 Championship appearances for Leeds last season but has had to be patient this time around.
He said: "It has been frustrating with the wait, but the team have been doing well so that has made it extra hard. But I like to think I did grab the chance with both hands against Leicester. "I have had to mature in the past 18 months and I do feel I have learned a lot. I made wrong decisions with my passing last year at times, I realised it was an area I had to work on. My composure was in question along with my decision-making, but I feel I have improved.
"I am a kid playing first team football for Leeds so I have to just enjoy it. It is up to the manager because there are players coming back and it would be naive of me to think I will be straight in there.
"The momentum is building. I have watched a lot from the sidelines and I can see us getting better every week. We have to work to make sure it continues. We are third with a game in hand and that is a good position to be in with Christmas coming up. We can push on from here."
United's goals were both well-worked affairs with the opener on 41 minutes seeing Lewis back-heel a free-kick to provide Healy with a vital extra couple of yards to curl an exquisite shot round the defensive wall and into the corner of the net.It was another set-piece that helped create the decisive strike after Joey Gudjonsson had equalised from the penalty spot, Blake running over the ball to allow Lewis to flick a pass to the former Bradford striker. The defence, caught flat-footed by the unexpected pass, tried to close Blake down but, after skipping past two tackles, he drilled a low shot into the six-yard area where Matthew Kilgallon diverted the ball into the net. The Foxes defence appealed in vain for offside, defender McCarthy taking his protests too far with his berating of a linesman earning two yellow cards and ensuring the visitors finished the game with 10 men.
Despite a couple of late half-chances, Leicester were unable to deny United a fourth straight win to leave Bates able to celebrate his 74th birthday with the present he wanted more than most – another three points.
Leeds United: Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, KIlgallon, Harding; Walton (Richardson 84), Miller, Lewis; Healy (Moore 89), Hulse, Blake (Pugh 89).
Leicester City: Douglas; Stearman, McCarthy, Gerrbrand, Maybury; Smith, Kisnorbo (De Vries 81), Gudjonsson, Sylla; Hume, Hammond (Dublin 87).
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).
Leeds man of the match: Miller.
Leeds setting their sights higher than the play-offs
By Richard Holdsworth
Leeds United (1) 2 Leicester City (0) 1

Slowly but surely, the dark clouds that have encircled Elland Road for some time now, are beginning to part. This victory over Leicester City - their fourth consecutive in the Championship - moves Leeds into third place and many supporters believe their latest ensemble have the ability to catch the distant top two.
"We know what the supporters expect and we're not content with reaching the play-offs,'' John Carver, the Leeds head coach, said. ''If we continue to show the character we did today, there's no reason why we can't push the leaders."
Before David Healy opened the scoring with a well-worked free-kick late in the first half, an Eddie Lewis shot that just went over was all Leeds had to show for their attacking efforts. In fact only the woodwork had prevented Paul Butler from heading past his own goalkeeper and giving Leicester a possible half-time advantage.
Craig Levein's team had obviously taken confidence from their victory over Sheffield United last weekend and not many teams come to Leeds and play the way the Foxes did in the first half. Leicester were finally rewarded in the 70th minute through Joey Gudjonsson's penalty. However, Matthew Kilgallon ensured Leeds' continued run of form when he diverted Robbie Blake's shot past Douglas. Valid claims for offside against the Leeds defender fell on deaf ears, much to the annoyance of Leicester centre-back Patrick McCarthy who was subsequently sent off by referee Mike Dean.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Four In A Row: United 2 Leicester 1

An enthralling game saw Leeds stretch their winning run to four games thanks to goals from David Healy and Matthew Kilgallon, whilst the Foxes were awarded a dubious penalty.United though are definitely on a roll.

United manager Kevin Blackwell was left with a bit of a midfield crisis for this game following a hamstring injury to Shaun Derry in last week's win at Millwall. The same game saw two of his likely replacements, Sean Gregan and Jonathan Douglas, pick up their fifth bookings of the season - ruling them out of this game through suspension.
That left Simon Walton as the only fit player with any tangible central midfield experience and it was no surprise to see him named in the starting XI, making his first appearance of the season.
That, and the return of skipper Paul Butler after suspension, were the only changes for Leeds, not that Blackwell had much scope to make changes anyway with just 17 senior players available to him, and it meant it was more or less the same group of players that had led the club to three wins on the bounce.

The Match
This game enjoyed a good entertaining start from two sides that once graced the Premiership and enjoyed many highscoring encounters. The last 0-0 draw in the league between them was some 28 years ago.
It was end to end for the first quarter of an hour, and either side could have had a couple of goals.
The opening minute saw Eddie Lewis's free-kick delivered perfectly into the middle of the penalty area but returning skipper Paul Butler couldn't keep his header down and put it over the top.
Four minutes later and Hulse should have created an opening for Leeds when he had Blake and Healy in support, but a bad touch saw him take the ball a yard too far and he lost it in the tackle when one of the two White shirts on either side of him were well placed for the shot.
That was the signal for Leicester to get going and a 35-yard shot from Ryan Smith was only just turned over by the fingertips of Neil Sullivan in the United goal.
Joey Gudjohnssen then went close with another drive from distance but Sullivan got hold of the shot with two firm hands.
Leeds should have had the lead after 11 minutes when good work between Simon Walton, in for his first game of the season, and Robbie Blake set up Eddie Lewis for a great chance.
After Blake collected the pass from Walton he Lewis in space to the left of him and the US international had a clear sight of goal. He looked certain to score when he took aim from the edge of the area but his shot clipped the top of the crossbar.
It was the second consecutive game Lewis has been denied by the woodwork.
The comedy moment of the match soon followed after Dan Harding's foul on Momo Sylla gave Leicester a free-kick in a good position just five yards short of the penalty box.
But the Foxes completely messed up the free-kick when Gudjohnssen touched the ball before he had meant to. Rob Hulse spotted the mistake and simply stole the ball from him as the visitors stood and watched and the pressure was relieved. The jeers from the Leeds fans did little to relieve Leicester's embarrassment.
United then had the ball in the back of the net on 16 minutes, only to see it disallowed.
Lewis's corner had been headed clear but Walton knocked the ball back into the area where Hulse met the ball with a glancing header into the back of the net, but as he turned to celebrate the cheers turned to groans as the linesman raised his flag for offside.
The Whites were playing some good attacking football, typified when Healy played a great return ball for Kelly to break down the right and his cross back into the penalty area deserved a goal but Hulse wasn't quite able to connect with the perfect header.
There was a scare though when Butler headed a corner onto his own crossbar and then Ian Hume's return header was turned over by Sullivan. The skipper had nearly made a scoring return to action - at the wrong end though.
Leeds appealed strongly for a penalty with eight minutes of the half remaining when Robbie Blake's flick into the penalty area appeared to be handled by Patrick McCarthy as he tried to find Rob Hulse. Referee Mike Dean though turned a deaf ear to the appeals.
Miller then went close with a drive that just passed the right hand post. Leeds were getting closer and closer every minute.
And as this reporter finished that last prophetic sentence, the Whites duly obliged with a goal from a well worked free-kick.
Blake was bundled over on the edge of the penalty area and the three key men at free-kicks, Lewis, Blake and now Miller, stood over the ball and were apparently still working out who would take it. Whilst Leicester appeared distracted, the ball was simply rolled square to David Healy and he smashed the ball home like only he can.
The Northern Ireland international has now scored in each of the last four games,if you count his deflected winner against Millwall, and there was certainly no taking this one away from him.
No changes at half-time for either side, Leeds were the first to put the pressure on.
They could have been 2-0 up when Kelly's corner four minutes into the half was met well by Hulse but the striker, whose barren run passed eight games last weekend, saw his header crash onto the crossbar. It was desperately unlucky for the centre-forward, whose workrate during the game was phenonemal.
Leeds were trying hard for the second goal to kill Leicester off, but United found themselves pegged back by a contentious penalty on 68 minutes.
Joey Gudjohnsson had the ball with his back to goal on the right hand edge of the area and Hulse, back defending, put in a sliding challenge. The slide began inside the box but the contact appeared to be made outside the area, not that the referee saw it that way and pointed to the penalty spot.
Hulse had not really needed to make the challenge, and Gudjohnsson dusted himself off to send Sullivan the wrong way and level the scores.
Leeds were only level for five minutes before their pressure told and they were back in front.
Blake's mazy run on the edge of the area finished with a shot that deflected off Matthew Kilgallon's thigh and flew into the goal.
Foxes centre-half Patrick McCarthy was sent off in the aftermath as United celebrated a deserved goal.
Simon Walton's afternoon came to an end with seven minutes remaining when he was replaced by Frazer Richardson, and the youngster had done his chances no harm with a good display.
Leeds looked the most likely to score again but they just couldn't finish off a number of good moves, whilst defensively they were coping well with the physical threat from Leicester upfront, the Foxes having thrown both Mark De Vries and Dion Dublin on for the last five minutes.
Ian Moore came on right at the end for David Healy, and the Northern Ireland international was give a standing ovation as he left the field. Danny Pugh also came on for Robbie Blake, and he too got a good send off.Four minutes of extra time - four agonising minutes - were played in which the visitors won a number of free-kicks but Leeds hung on for three great points and four wins in a row. The last time Leeds last won four in a row was during a six match unbeaten run in 2001.
Blackwell set for new deal
By Lewis Rutledge - Created on 3 Dec 2005
Sky Sports

Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell is set to enter into negotiations with the club's board in an attempt to extend his current contract.
The Yorkshire outfit are going well in The Championship and are strongly fancied to secure promotion to the top flight.
Blackwell has been winning plaudits for his management, and chairman Ken Bates is keen for him to agree a new deal.
"My contract is up at the end of the season, but I would love to stay here beyond that. I'd like to lay my roots here," hoped Blackwell.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Lucky Ending! Millwall 0 United 1

A last minute shot from David Healy deflected in for the only goal of the game gave Leeds a crucial win at the New Den...the first time they have put three back to back wins together in almost three years.

United boss Kevin Blackwell counted himself fortunate to only be forced into making the one change following the 2-0 win over Burnley in midweek. Rob Hulse, Shaun Derry and Liam Miller had all been doubts for the game, but had recovered sufficiently to keep their places, and in the case of Miller, special dispensation was granted by the referee for him to play with a cast on his fractured wrist. Skipper Paul Butler was absent though whilst he served a one match ban. His absence gave Sean Gregan the chance to come in and stake a claim for a more permanent recall to the starting XI.

The Match
David Healy wore an armband in respect of George Best, his fellow Ulsterman who the Leeds striker regarded as one of his big heroes in the game. The game itself, like the East End weather, had a cold start. It wasn't until the 12th minute that anything of real note in the game when Rob Hulse nearly charged down a clearance from the rookie keeper, Colin Doyle, forcing him to mis-kick. Three minutes later though Leeds began a spell of possession which would see them dominate the game without getting the goals to show for it. Working their way around the Millwall penalty area, Healy fed Miller, the midfielder then spread the ball out wide to Hulse on the right and his cross met Eddie Lewis on the left of the penalty area where the USA international saw his shot come back off the post and hit the cornerflag before going out. Two minutes later Healy let fly with a left-footed shot that struck the same post that Lewis did from just inside the area. United were desperately unlucky not to have taken the lead. On 23 minutes Sean Gregan body-checked Hayles as the striker prepared to get past him and ended up picking up his fifth booking of the season. Gregan, only coming into the side in the place of the suspended Paul Butler, now faces a one match ban - ruling out his chances of holding onto his place. Just before the half hour Healy robbed Millwall centre-half Ady Williams and was unlucky that in doing so the ball went just far enough ahead of him for the keeper to come out and save. Shortly afterwards Blake put a ball across the face of the area and neither Healy, Hulse nor Liam Miller were able to get a foot to the ball which Williams cleared behind. Millwall meanwhile had not managed to get a shot off on goal, the furthest upfield they got was when they won a corner on 35 minutes which came to nothing. United suffered a blow eight minutes before the break when Shaun Derry was forced off after the midfielder picked up what looked to be a hamstring injury. Jonathan Douglas came on in his place. Douglas went through on goal just before the break but he was halted by the keeper and his tame effort went wide - any claims for a penalty would not have come to anything with the referee having spotted the offside flag but allowing play to continue after he saw Douglas's shot was going nowhere. At half-time Leeds knew they should have been at least one goal up, if not two.
A minute into the second half and Eddie Lewis was brought down two yards short of the penalty area by fellow American Zak Whitbread in a challenge that earned the on-loan Liverpool man a yellow card. Matthew Kilgallon met Kelly's free-kick but couldn't direct it on goal. Jonathan Douglas became the next Leeds player to earn a suspension when he too collected his fifth booking of the season for a foul on Alan Dunne ten minutes into the half. From the free-kick Millwall had their first chance of the game but wasted the opportunity with their captain Paul Robinson heading wide from six yards out at the back post. Another good chance for Leeds after the hour mark saw Miller cross into the middle of the penalty area and Lewis looked set to break the deadlock but his goalwards header was blocked. Rob Hulse was brought down for a free-kick five yards out from the penalty area and a debate began amongst Blake, Miller and Lewis as to who would take it. Miller won the decision but shot straight into the wall. Liam Miller was then the third Leeds player booked for a foul on Hayles.Hulse then latched onto a good through ball from Healy with 16 minutes left but put his shot wide of the advancing keeper and the goal. An offside flag went up belatedly but Hulse would have normally been expected to have hit the target. Leeds could have lost the game in the last eight minutes when the ball fell to Hayles some 12-yards out, his shot was on target but Neil Sullivan pulled off a great save - really the first time in the match he had been given something serious to save. Two minutes later Rob Hulse appeared to be bundled over inside the area as he chased a free-kick into the box, but no penalty was forthcoming from the referee. The save of the game though came from Millwall keeper Colin Doyle, Kelly's free-kick went loose inside the area and Blake met it with a fierce right footed strike that was heading for the back of the net until Doyle somehow got a hand to the ball to turn it away. The threat from Leeds wasn't over though but came to an embarrassing end when Hulse turned but lost his balance and swung a boot at the ball without making contact. Healy could have won it just into injury time when he hit a low drive goalwards only to see it blocked almost on the line by Rob Hulse! Leeds looked destined to miss out on another chance to record a third straight win but in second minute of injury time the ball broke for Healy on the left of the penalty area and his shot cannoned off the helpless Millwall substitute Ben May past Doyle into the back of the net.It was a huge slice of luck but had Leeds not won this game there would have been an inquest, especially after dominating the first half so much.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sporting Life

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell has challenged his side to catch the Coca-Cola Championship's top two after a 2-0 home win over Burnley.
Second-half goals from David Healy and Robbie Blake clinched victory in a game against a side that put up a determined effort at Elland Road and controlled proceedings for a large period.
And on the back of their superb comeback victory against Southampton on Saturday, Blackwell has challenged his team to build a run that will haul them into one of the automatic promotion places.
"That's what football's about," said Blackwell.
"We're half-way through the season and there's no doubt them (Reading) and Sheffield United are flying.
"But you've just got to keep playing every game and keep knocking points on the board.
"It's like a bike race, people go way out in front but it's funny how they get caught.
"The problem for both of those clubs is that they'll know that they need to keep looking over their shoulder.
"If we can put any pressure on them then great, but if we can't, we'll just keep plugging away and make sure we're in that top six.
"The Burnley side were on a great run, and we knew that as a top-six side coming here, they'd be difficult to play against," added Blackwell.
"They're always difficult to play against and they didn't disappoint."
Blackwell's side struggled under the weight of expectation last season, and their latest victory will only serve to revive hopes of promotion, but he is doing his best to make sure his players do not lose their head this time.
"We had to have some grit and determination to hang on, we showed a bit of flair and we showed that we can score goals," said the United boss.
Burnley chief Steve Cotterill did little to temper the pressure on Blackwell and his players, claiming that with a squad like that, they should be putting pressure on the top two.
"If you've got Blake, Healy, (Eddie) Lewis, and (Rob) Hulse in your team, I don't think you can fail to win," he said.
"I think it's the best front line, the best creators in the league. You can argue maybe Wolves, but when Blakey's like that you can't handle him."
Cotterill added that he thought the performance of Blake, who scored with an exquisite free-kick, was the deciding factor, reluctantly praising the ex-Burnley striker.
"I don't want to give him any praise, but I thought he was the difference, I thought he was superb," he added.
With regards to the result, Cotterill felt harshly treated by the referee, who also cancelled out a quick free-kick from Jon Harley just three minutes after Healy's 55th-minute penalty.
"You better ask the referee about that," he said. "If someone else does it and bends it into the top corner (Blake), they say you're a genius, but if Jon Harley does it, we've got to take it again. Maybe he didn't want to give anything contentious tonight.
"I thought we were better than them tonight. If anyone was a betting man there would have been only one team you'd be putting your money on at half-time."

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Blake Haunts Clarets: United 2 Burnley 0

Leeds kept pace with the play-off contenders thanks to a David Healy penalty and a special free-kick from Robbie Blake to give them all three points against Burnley.

United boss Kevin Blackwell made just the one change to the side that enjoyed a remarkable comeback against Southampton at the weekend.
David Healy gets the chance to start the game at the expense of Frazer Richardson, but unlike Saturday when Leeds adopted a 4-3-3 formation, Healy would be operating as a winger in a more traditional 4-42.
Liam Miller had been a doubt for the game with a thigh strain but he was passed fit before the game and kept his place.
Burnley recalled goalkeeper Brian Jensen and Frank Sinclair after suspension.

The Match
With just four minutes on the clock Matthew Kilgallon was unlucky not to claim the third goal of his Leeds United career.
Healy won and took a corner on the right and Kilgallon got a flick on but no-one was there to get a crucial touch, but still the ball was in play with Lewis on the left and when he swung the ball back into the area Kilgallon was there again to meet it - his header though came back off the underside of the bar.
It was a sign from Leeds that they were out to be positive from the start and make sure the horror showing of the first half at Southampton becomes a thing of the past.
Burnley had not come to Elland Road to be cannon fodder though, they too are enjoying a resurgence and enjoyed a good spell early on when they forced half a dozen corners out of the Leeds defence.
They had their chances too, James O'Connor brought a good save out of Sullivan as his drive from the edge of the area was turned over.
Ade Akinbiyi, once berated for his lack of goalscoring ability by supporters at his previous clubs but now enjoying a rich vein of form with 12 before this game, could have made it 13 but he headed over from the corner.
The three United strikers on the pitch combined after 20 minutes to produce a great move that deserved a goal. It all happened down the right flank where Hulse's ball to Healy was deftly flicked between two Burnley defenders and right to the feet of Robbie Blake. Just as he looked to turn Frank Sinclair and go inside, the defender got a lucky touch to take the ball behind and out of play. United scratched their heads though when no corner was forthcoming.
Nathan Dyer saw his shot defelect off Butler and land on top of the netting for a corner in what was another let-off for Leeds, and then John McGreal headed wide from another corner.
Leeds fans thought they were cheering the first goal of the game on 29 minutes when Robbie Blake's trickery on the edge of the penalty area saw him create a golden opportunity for Eddie Lewis.
Blake's ball had managed to take two defenders out of the equation for Lewis, but the USA international drove his shot into the side netting.
The much anticipated meeting of Shaun Derry and Micah Hyde, whom Derry accuses of assaulting him in the game at Turf Moor and leaving him with five stitches, produced little in terms of fireworks - in the first half at least. The pair kept their distance.
Three minutes into the second half and United supporters were cheering - but once again it proved to be premature with an offside flag ruling out Rob Hulse's effort after good build up play between Miller and Healy.
With 53 minutes on the clock, United got the breakthrough courtesy of David Healy from the penalty spot.
Eddie Lewis was the man who won it after he was tripped half a yard inside the area by Michael Duff after he had wrong-footed the right-back. It was a clear penalty. Healy took it and even though Jensen in the Burnley goal got a touch, he couldn't prevent the ball from squirming past him and Leeds were a goal to the good.
Leeds survived just minutes after the opener when Jon Harley put the ball in the back of the net from a quickly taken free-kick. Fortunately the referee had not been ready and the effort was ruled out.
When the free-kick was eventually taken though they came close as Micah Hyde got space inside the area but Sullivan took the shot with a firm grasp.
After Healy was booked for a foul just after the hour, Leeds defended the free-kick well and almost caught Burnley out on the break, Miller just putting his shot wide after Robbie Blake had teed up up on the edge of the area.
On 70 minutes Leeds were treated to a special goal, and one that probably left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Burnley fans, as Robbie Blake - a former Claret - curled home a free-kick.
It was give for a push on Healy and Blake showed just why he is the man to have in deadball situations as he placed the ball with inch perfect precision inside the goal from 22-yards out. Leeds now had that all important cushion of a second goal and time on their side as they looked forward to another valuable three points.
Four minutes later Blake had another free-kick from almost the same position but this time he put the shot over the crossbar.
Yet another free-kick in a similar position for Leeds saw Liam Miller step up to take it and his attempt was just blocked for a corner.
Burnley made a double substitution with 11 minutes remaining, bringing Wade Elliott and Danny Karbassiyoon on. The changes were a little too late from a Burnley perspective.
Kevin Blackwell also made one change with Richardson coming on for Healy, and the striker got a standing ovation as he left the field. Akinbiyi might have got a consolation goal with three minutes remaining but he put his shot straight into Sullivan's arms from an excellent position.
By the end Leeds had coasted to the win, and the last twenty minutes saw them play some bright and inventive football. Add that to the last twenty-five minutes at Southampton and it just about makes up for that dreadful first half at St Mary's. Three points well deserved and much needed to give Leeds some comfort inside the play-off zone.
One Of Our Best

Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell hailed his side's remarkable comeback against Southampton as one of the best of all time - anywhere.
The Whites were trailing 3-0 at half-time but inspired by 3,000 fans who kept backing them, and the introduction of David Healy in the second half, they produced a memorable fightback that culminated in Liam Miller scoring the fourth and winning goal.
Not since United turned the tables on Derby County in November 1997 after finding themselves 3-0 at Elland Road have Leeds produced such a remarkable comeback, and Blackwell says it is the best game he's ever been involved in.
"It's up there with the top victories because at 3-0 down nobody could see us winning that game," he said.
"I remember a night with Sheffield United against Leeds United when we were 1-0 down with 2 minutes to go and we won 2-1, that was some night, but this was a lot more elongated because the comeback had to be a long longer and stronger.
"It was pure entertainment at the end but it doesn't do anytrhing for managers hearts. There was not one person left the stadium and they couldn't because it was just pure theatre."
Blackwell had a few choice words for his team at the half-time interval and they responded in the right manner.
"I sent the lads out after half time and said you've got yourself in trouble now get yourself out of it. There's not many teams that will come back from that sort of situation.
"we were not playing well and at 3-0 down you couldn't be any lower, but they have shown unbelievable team spirit.
"I didn't make any changes at half-time, I know when you work with people everyday you believe in what they can do and how they're doing it, but when you are losing 3-0 and not playing well it's a kick in the wotsits.
"I have said we will get more belief and understanding in the second half of the season and certainly today they've shown the ingredients every team needs to have around the promotion places, and that's spirit - we had that in abundance.
Blackwell reserves special praise for the Leeds fans who, although they showed their disapproval at half-time, continued to stick with the players through the game and never stopped singing for them.
It made the comeback all that bit more special.
"When you have massive support like we have it's not good enough to come in three goals down," continued Blackwell.
"I am just delighted we sent them home with something to think about, it's been a long long time since Leeds have come back from three goals down.
"I've been willing to say that I felt Leeds United was a club split all over the place and my job in the last 15 months has been to rebuild the faith amongst the players, the fans and the board.
"We are a club that is united now, the fans never turned on one of the players, they shouted us through at 3-0 down, and I would argue they gave us the platform to keep going.
"A lot of fans would have booed and jeered their team but ours are just magnificent."
4.31pm: Saints 3 United 04.46pm: Saints 3 United 4
Blackwell: It has to be the most dramatic game I've ever seen
Yorkshire Evening Post

LEEDS UNITED boss Kevin Blackwell hailed his side's stunning 4-3 success at Southampton as the most dramatic game he has ever seen.
Blackwell's side were dead and buried at 3-0 down with 20 minutes remaining, but they staged an amazing fightback to win 4-3 after scoring all four goals in the space of just 15 minutes.
The recovery ranks as one of the greatest in United's history – loan man Liam Miller bagged the dramatic winner – and Blackwell was almost speechless.
"It's up there with the top victories I've been involved in because at 3-0 down nobody could see us winning that game," said Blackwell.
"I remember a night with Sheffield United against Leeds when we were 1-0 down with two minutes to go and we won 2-1.
"That was some night, but Saturday was a lot more dramatic because the comeback had to be longer and stronger.
"It was pure entertainment at the end – but it doesn't do anything for managers' hearts.
"Not one person left the stadium and they couldn't because it was just pure theatre."
Blackwell said the final flurry summed up the togetherness in his camp and was quick to pay tribute to the character shown by his troops.United were three goals down at half-time and, until Paul Butler popped up to score a 71st minute header, there was no suggestion that Leeds would take anything from the game.
"I sent the lads out at half time and said you've got yourselves in the mire now get yourselves out of it," said Blackwell.
"Not many teams will come back from that sort of situation. We were not playing well and at 3-0 down you couldn't be any lower, but they've shown unbelievable team spirit.
"We are frustrated because we feel this is a good side, but we don't feel they know how good they can be.
"They weigh the opposition up without getting on with their own game.
"What went wrong in the first half? Everything went wrong. We turned up!"
Blackwell's joy was tempered by the opening 70 minutes during which his Leeds side looked like they were simply happy to make up the numbers.
"I didn't make any changes at half-time," said the manager. "I know when you work with people everyday you believe in what they can do and how they're doing it, but when you are losing 3-0 and not playing well it's a kick in the wotsits.
"I have said we will get more belief and understanding in the second half of the season and certainly they've shown the ingredients every team needs to have around the promotion places, and that's spirit. We had that in abundance.

"We've been in the top four or five most of the season and I just want them to go home now and try and bang three or four wins together.
"That's the target now."
Blackwell and United owed a debt of gratitude to substitute David Healy who again came off the bench to inspire Leeds towards their stunning finish.Healy turned the game at Reading last month when he scored the equaliser in a 1-1 draw and, after being involved in United's first two goals at Southampton, he bagged the leveller again on Saturday.
"It's never easy coming on as a sub, but sometimes you get lucky and come on and do something that changes the game," said Healy. "The gaffer wants people to come on off the bench and make an impact. We got lucky Saturday because we got a goal early on when I came on and from there on they took their foot off the gas and we caught them out. The gaffer's been on all week about how we haven't scored enough goals, so there's four there, and they were all spread around the team and that's good for the team. It's only one game and we only get three points for coming back from 3-0 down, but we have another game tomorrow night and have to get the three points there and kick on."

Sunday, November 20, 2005

United's Miracle! Saints 3 - Leeds 4!

Three-nil down at half-time, Leeds were dead and buried - but never count United out as they produced the most remarkable of comebacks to take all three points in an action packed thriller at St Mary's.

United boss Kevin Blackwell had endured some frustration over the international break after his plans to get all the strikers working together in training fell through, namely David Healy's ankle problems that kept the Northern Ireland international on the bench for this game.
Healy was still not 100% fit and as such Blackwell made the decision to start with Rob Hulse and Robbie Blake together, the pair having prepared well in the build up to the game. Healy would feature on the bench and be used as an impact player.
That was the only change from the side that drew with Preston at Elland Road in what had been a low key performance for the Whites.
Results before the game had seen Leeds fall out of the top six and they went into the game knowing that if they didn't win and results elsewhere went against them, they could fall as low as 11th in the table. There was certainly plenty riding on this game.

The Match
It wasn't the brightest start by Leeds against a home side desperate to avenge the 2-1 defeat they suffered at Elland Road only a month and a day before, a game Harry Redknapp's men felt they deserved at least a point from.
Still it was United who threatened first as Hulse got in an early header after meeting Gary Kelly's free-kick floated ino the area, but it was a tame effort on goal.
Then the Saints got going and put together a few good moves that were fortunately unrewarded.
Michael Svensson met a Dennis Wise cross with a good downwards header but the danger was brought to a quick end by the referee as he had spotted a push on Kilgallon.
Then Neil Sullivan pushed away a Quashie cross that threatened to cause all kinds of trouble as Ormerod and Svensson both went up for the ball
Dan Harding's back-pass put Sullivan in all kinds of trouble as he only just cleared the ball away before the speedy Theo Walcott closed him down.
After that Leeds managed to regain their composure and both Eddie Lewis and Frazer Richardson began to see a lot of the ball on the wings. Paul Butler picked up a booking, the first of the game, after he caught Matt Oakley late in the middle of the park on 20 minutes. The United skipper must now serve a one match ban for picking up five yellow cards this season.
Theo Walcott's pace had seen him terrorise the Leeds defence at Elland Road and again he caused problems.
It was his ball whipped into the area that forced Kelly to turn the ball behind for a corner that gave Southampton the opportunity they needed to score from a set-play.
The cross came in and was flicked goalwards by Svensson and right into the path of Latvian striker Marian Pahars to nod home.
It had been poor marking by Leeds and they paid dearly for it. Rob Hulse was booked in the aftermath for dissent. Dennis Wise later joined him in the book for the same offence.
Leeds were struggling to get back into the game and before they really had the chance to get going again they found themselves 2-0 down.
Again walcott was involved, he had been set loose down the right flank again by Quashie and his pace took him past the man considered to be United's quickest defender, Matthew Kilgallon, and he simply cut the ball back across face of goal where Quashie sidefooted the ball home from the edge of the area.
Two goals down Leeds were left with plenty to do if they had any hope of getting something from the game, and had also not scored in the previous two games.
On-loan Liam Miller became the third United player to be booked when he blasted the ball into Pahars after Kelly had brought the striker down.
Rob Hulse had a great chance to get Leeds back in the game five minutes before half-time when Lewis curled a ball back into the box and the striker met it well but put his header straight into Antti Niemi's hands. It had been United's best chance of the half.
Just after the fourth official had signalled two minutes of time added on to be played, Leeds shot themselves in the foot by conceding a third goal from the penalty spot.
Dan Harding was left exposed as a chipped ball fell for Matt Oakley on the right hand side of the box and he headed the ball back across the face of goal where Harding's hands went up and gave the referee no option but to point to the spot as contact was made.
Saints skipper Nigel Quashie went for power and blasted it high into the far right hand corner of the net.
At half-time Leeds looked well out of the game. A miracle was needed.
Southampton continued in the second half where they left off at the end of the first - creating chance and chance to score again.
They came close to making it 4-0 and would have done but for Neil Sullivan saving at point blank range from one time Elland Road loan signing Brett Ormerod after the striker met a flick on into the six-yard box.
Eddie Lewis was booking number four for Leeds after he brought Rory Delap's 40-yard run to an end. On 68 minutes Liam Miller had a chance to reduce the damage from a free-kick on the edge of the area, but his attempt was about a yard over the top of the Saints goal.
Blackwell made his first change straight after the free-kick, bringing David Healy on and taking Frazer Richardson off which left United with three strikers on the pitch. Healy stayed on that right flank.
Healy did inject a bit of life into Leeds, winning a corner after his shot was blocked and from the corner Leeds gave themselves a glimmer of hope.
Kelly swung in the corner and skipper Paul Butler met it at the back post with a perfectly weighted header that arched over Niemi and fell nicely into the back of the net.
With just under 20 minutes left there was still time for Leeds to pull off a remarkable comeback, but did they have it in them to do just that?
Two goals down suddenly became just one as Robbie Blake came up with his third goal of the season, right on cue and with 14 minutes of the game remaining.
Liam Miller drove Leeds forward and fed Healy, his shot-cross fell for Blake who smashed the ball into the bottom right hand corner of the net.
United's fans had been singing all through the game but for the first time they had genuine reason to stick with their team, they believed Leeds could get themselves back into the game and that belief was being transfered onto the pitch.
Then with less than eight minutes remaining it happened - Leeds won a penalty and the chance to grab what had looked the most unlikely equaliser.
Healy was the instigator as he smacked the ball against Higginbotham and the referee again pointed in dramatic fashion to the penalty spot. Healy lifted the ball high into the back of the net and suddenly the unthinkable had happened.
If coming back from three goals down was not enough, Leeds completed the most remarkable of comebacks by grabbing a fourth goal with Southampton's defence all at sea.
Rob Hulse turned the ball back inside from the left hand side of the penalty area and Liam Miller met it right in the middle of the penalty area, almost on the spot and just drove the ball home to give Leeds an incredible lead!
From the edge of despair the Leeds fans were in ecstasy and had witnessed a comeback as good as any in United's long and glorious history.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

United fail in loan bid for Brown
by Phil Hay
Yorkshire Evening Post

Kevin Blackwell today admitted the transfer market has become a closed shop after Leeds United missed out on the signature of Michael Brown.
United attempted to strike a loan deal with the Tottenham midfielder after securing Liam Miller from Manchester United, but Brown has opted to remain in London and fight for his place at White Hart Lane.
The 28-year-old, who worked with Blackwell at Sheffield United, has made just four appearances for Martin Jol's side this season after Spurs invested heavily in midfield talent during the summer.
Blackwell had hoped to secure Brown in time for Saturday's Championship clash at Southampton, but his loan options are growing thin as the country's clubs close ranks ahead of the demanding Christmas schedule.
Blackwell admitted: "We had a try for Michael but it didn't come off. We'll move on and explore other avenues.
"It's very difficult at this moment in time to do anything, especially with the Christmas period coming up.
"Clubs are reluctant to let players go, and I think January and February are the times when you'll see a lot of movement."

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Blake: Give Us A Break
Yorkshire Evening Post

LEEDS UNITED striker Robbie Blake today dismissed notions of a mini-crisis at Elland Road and insisted the international break couldn't have come at a better time.
United's goalless draw against Preston on Saturday was enough to ensure that Kevin Blackwell's side will resume their Championship campaign at Southampton on Saturday week in fifth place in the division. But, after losing to Crewe and being held at home by Preston, Leeds have wavered in recent weeks and have missed repeated chances to cement themselves as Sheffield United and Reading's main promotion rivals. "Saturday was a pretty tough game and we have to be disappointed with the performance," conceded former Birmingham marksman Blake ahead of tonight's friendly clash against French side Rodez. "But we've only lost one in eight league games, so it's not that much of a crisis. "Hopefully the break will do us the world of good and we'll come back fresh against Southampton. That'll be a tough game, but they're the games you have to win if you want to be up there." Two weeks ago, United had a five-point advantage over their closest rivals, but after hard-fought draws against the top two, they failed to follow up against Crewe and Preston. Just six points now separate fourth-placed Luton Town from 14th placed Preston and the battle for the play-off spots is already starting to hot-up. Sheffield United and Reading are firm favourites for the top two slots and with Watford also finding form in third place the chasing pack are all jostling to stay in contention. "We've had a very tough month in terms of fixtures," said Blake. "We took points off the big teams, but then Crewe was very disappointing."Preston are a decent side, but we were still disappointed to pick up only a point on Saturday. "The way we look at it, is that we've got to hang in there. We're not even halfway through the season yet. "There is pressure on us to win games and that's what we have to do. "The tag of being Leeds United is also a big pressure, and we've got to start picking maximum points up. "When we go to Southampton we've got to win or make sure we don't get beat at the very least. "When you look at the league, there are hardly any points separating fourth through to sixth-bottom, and it is a very tight league. "But we have to get back to another winning spell, like we did against Derby and Southampton at home. "We had a five-point gap, but that's diminished now and we've got to go again." Blake's involvement has been restricted in recent weeks – he was dropped back to the subs bench in place of David Healy – but the striker will start tonight's friendly against Rodez Aveyron. "Saturday was difficult when I came on because they were having a decent spell," said Blake. "All I can do when I come on is try and sway the manager to pick me. I've just got to hang in there. Enjoyable"I'm over the fitness stuff now and was looking forward to the break and regrouping. "We're in France for a few days, we've got a game tonight, and it should be an enjoyable week."

Saturday, November 05, 2005

The Match: United 0 Preston 0

An average game at Elland Road saw Leeds held to a 0-0 draw by Preston North End but it was an encouraging performance from new-boy Liam Miller.

United boss Kevin Blackwell gave Liam Miller his debut in midfield, just 24 hours after the Irish international arrived on loan from Manchester United.
Miller's inclusion saw another loan signing, Jonathan Douglas, drop down to the bench. There was one further change with Ian Moore also dropping out of the starting XI and Frazer Richardson returning to the right wing.
With David Healy and Eddie Lewis starting there were two former Preston players up against the former club, whilst Sean Gregan, who once captained the Lilywhites, was on the bench.

The Match
Kevin Blackwell's decision to throw Liam Miller straight into the thick of the action barely 24 hours after his arrival at Elland Road may on the face of it appeared bold (Remember Roque Junior!), but straight away the Irishman showed why it was no gamble.
With four minutes on the clock he spotted the space in midfield and lifted the crowd at Elland Road with a great run that saw him make 50-yards as he skipped past Brian O'Neil and Claude Davis before playing a perfect ball to David Healy.
It didn't end in a goal but it was exactly the type of positive running and imaginative play that Leeds had been lacking.
Healy did get the ball in the goal from the corner but his headed effort was chalked off for a push on the defender.
Dan Harding was given a stern ticking off for bringing down David Jones midway inside the United half, and Preston's Chris Lucketti received the same treatment when he sent Eddie Lewis tumbling.
Preston were forced into an early change after just quarter of an hour when David Jones picked up a knock and was replaced by David Nugent, a change which forced the visitors to play with two men upfront.
The visitors enjoyed a good spell midway through the half but thankfully were not able to hurt United with their possession.
Paul McKenna forced Sullivan into a save when he got in a good position on the right hand side of the area, his shot was comfortable for Sullivan though.
Then Leeds had Butler to thank for some good defending as he kept Nugent on a leash and prevented him from getting clear inside the 18-yard box.
The comedy moment of the game came when David Healy and referee Andy D'Urso collided on the half hour, sending the man in black crashing to the ground on his backside. The referee saw the funny side of it but he wasn't amused when Gary Kelly put in a late tackle on Callum Davidson and the yellow card came out for the United man.
Leeds were creating little and allowing Preston to see too much of the ball. Butler was forced to put a low cross into the box behind for a corner before Patrick Agyemang could tap in.
Miller was still busy and he might have done better with his next chance wehn he shot straight at the keeper from 25 yards out.
Preston had Chris Sedgwick booked for a foul on Dan Harding just before the break.
At half-time there was much both sides had to do to raise the entertainment value of this game.
Two minutes after the break Eddie Lewis was brought down on the edge of the area in a challenge that earned Preston skipper Chris Lucketti a yellow card. Miller lined up the free-kick but put it over the top.
Straight after Leeds missed another good chance when Gary Kelly swung in a great cross for Rob Hulse to meet smack back in the middle of the penalty box, but he put his header well over.
Preston were still having their moments though, Sedgwick should have done better when a mistake in the United back four presented him with a great chance to score ten yards out, but again the ball sailed over the crossbar.
Just after the hour mark David Nugent was booked for hauling down Frazer Richardson as the winger tried to get clear.
Lewis was barracked throughout by the Preston fans but he nearly shoved their taunts down their throats when he set Healy up, but Lucketti got back to make a saving tackle on the Northern Ireland striker.
Preston remained bright and full of attacking intent and only Neil Sullivan prevented them from going ahead when Nugent got clear and shot from 20-yards, Sullivan though managed to push the ball away.
Blake won a free-kick just outside the penalty area with eight minutes remaining but he couldn't break the deadlock with a shot that deflected wide for a corner. The substitue was unlucky not to make amends with his second chance from the corner as Derry headed it down into his path and he swivelled before getting the shot away, but Carlo Nash made his first real save of the game.
United escaped once again when Hill put in a great ball across the face of goal that Nugent met with only a soft glancing header wide. It was a glorious chance. Miller came off just before the end to good applause and was replaced by Ian Moore with Blackwell increasing his attacking options to try and nick a winner late on. Douglas had a shot late on when Hulse chested the ball back down to the Blackburn man, but he too couldn't change the outcome of this game, ending in a 0-0 draw.