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The other change saw David Healy, somewhat withdrawn in recent games, dropped to the bench with Liam Miller coming in on the right hand side of midfield.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.