Monday, January 30, 2006

£3M and RISING
United review Fowler costs
Yorkshire Evening Post

LEEDS UNITED were today reviewing their agreement with former striker Robbie Fowler. Fowler made the switch from Manchester City to Liverpool over the weekend and United were going through the paperwork to assess the potential cost to themselves. When Fowler joined City in January 2003, former United chairman Peter Ridsdale entered into an agreement with the striker that saw Leeds subsidise his wages. The Elland Road club are understood to have contributed in excess of £20,000 a week to Fowler's wages since he left Leeds – an agreement which has already cost United over £3m – and that deal is due to continue until July 1 this year. United chief executive officer Shaun Harvey confirmed: "The deal was made with Robbie Fowler when he left to subsidise his wages away from Leeds United. That was a deal which was acceptable to the club at that time.
"We will re-visit the agreement as a matter of course to establish whether it was specific to Manchester City or to Fowler as an individual."
United chairman Ken Bates revealed in the YEP last week that £4.3m is still outstanding to former players – and should United continue to pay a portion of Fowler's salary it will cost around £500,000 before the deal expires during the summer. Fowler, an £11m buy from Liverpool in November 2001 who scored 14 goals in 33 appearances during a 14-month stay at Elland Road, was one of the first fire sales by the Leeds board three years ago. The 30-year-old departed at the same time as Lee Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate, when United's financial problems first hit. Fowler hasn't enjoyed the happiest of times since his move to Manchester City – but he has now put pen to paper on a short-term deal with Liverpool that ties him to Anfield until the end of the season.Liverpool chief executive Rick Parry has revealed Fowler, pictured, was "desperate" to return to Anfield.
The 'Toxteth Terror', who scored 171 goals in 330 appearances during a near 10-year spell on Merseyside, could not wait to sign up again for the Reds.
"I've never known a transfer happen quite so quickly," said Parry. "It was all done within 24 hours, and that was largely because of Robbie's passion to rejoin the club.
"I had to persuade Robbie to look at the contract. I think I could have put a contract in front of him with no money on it and he would have signed it!
"He really was that desperate to come back.
"At Liverpool we always look for players who are committed to coming to the club and want to play for us, but I've never seen quite such enthusiasm as Robbie showed.
"Despite Liverpool's success this season – the club are third in the Premiership table and through to the last 16 of the Champions League – manager Rafael Benitez's side have found goals hard to come by. Despite Fowler's recent struggles with City, Parry is hoping the 30-year-old can solve the problem.
"We hope this is the spark for his career. Certainly on Robbie's part there is no lack of motivation," added Parry.
"The idea of coming short term was no factor at all. No problem. He was just desperate to come and prove himself to Rafa.
"The point to stress is that first and foremost this was a football decision, and it was Rafa's judgment he would strengthen the team."

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Monday, January 23, 2006

Blackwell backing Gregan to cover for Kilgallon
Richard Sutcliffe
Yorkshire Post

KEVIN BLACKWELL insists Leeds United have a ready-made replacement in Sean Gregan after revealing influential defender Matthew Kilgallon will be out for at least two months.
The 22-year-old York-born defender has been United's most improved performer this season, but a double injury blow sustained against Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup meant he missed the 3-0 derby win at home to Sheffield Wednesday.
Gregan, who before the weekend had made just two starts in three months, stepped in to help Leeds keep a clean sheet against the Owls.
The former Preston and West Brom man has been a target for the Elland Road boo boys in certain games this season, but Blackwell believes it is time for all parties to look forward and not back.
He said: "I thought Sean was tremendous. The last time he came in (to the defence) at Millwall he was man of the match and he looked like he had not been away. Full credit to him and I hope people give him that credit.
"The punters have to get over the hurdle with Sean Gregan. Ironically, his record is good (eight clean sheets in 18 appearances as a defender) and that is why I find it harsh when people are ultra-critical of him.
"The amount of work he gets through means he will make a mistake at some time, but four months ago Sean and Paul Butler were playing so well that Matthew Kilgallon could not get into the side. That is the highest accolade I can pay them both."
On Kilgallon, Blackwell added: "Matthew is out for two months with damage to his knee ligament and also to his hamstring. He picked up both injuries at the same time (against Wigan).
"If it is any longer than that, then I will have to get cover for Sean because Simon Walton is maybe a little bit too inexperienced to go in there on a long-term basis."
The victory kept Leeds in third place, though with Sheffield United beating Brighton 3-1 the gap to the automatic promotion places remains 12 points.
Blackwell said: "I am not worried about them. Sheffield United must be thinking, 'When are they ever going to stop coming after us?' At some point they might just crack."
The three-goal margin was harsh on Wednesday who, until Paul Butler opened the scoring on 69 minutes had looked capable of returning back down the M1 with a hard-fought point.
Wednesday manager Paul Sturrock felt there was several positives to come out of the defeat and said: "In the end the first goal was key, but I did not feel it was a 3-0 result.
"I am not downhearted and I learned a few things about my players. I have learned we are not a 4-3-3 team, but needs must and we needed to get up there in their faces.
"You probably learn more in defeat than you do when you win. We are going to get healthier now because we have got 10 days without a game and we live to fight another day.
"The result will be hard for the Wednesday fans to take because they were magnificent and will find losing to one of their deadliest rivals a bitter pill to swallow."

Saturday, January 21, 2006

By Ross Heppenstall, PA Sport
Sporting Life

Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell hailed the impact of chairman Ken Bates as the former Chelsea supremo celebrated one year at the Elland Road helm.
Bates watched on from the directors' box as Leeds beat Yorkshire rivals Sheffield Wednesday 3-0 to keep the pressure on second-placed Sheffield United.
Former Owls striker Richard Cresswell grabbed two late goals after skipper Paul Butler finally broke the Owls' spirited resistance with a 72nd-minute header.
Blackwell paid tribute to Bates following the club's upturn in fortune since his takeover 12 months ago.
"I haven't spoken to the chairman yet but I'll go up and have a chat with him now," said Blackwell.
"It's been a momentous 12 months and what a way to finish it. Hopefully the next 12 months can be just as successful.
"The club has absolutely turned itself on its head and I don't think any of us would have ever thought that would be the case."
The 27,833 crowd was Leeds' biggest of the season and Blackwell insists the feelgood factor is returning to Elland Road.
He added: "The attendances are steadily rising and I think people couldn't believe how quickly this club imploded - from Champions League football to then be relegated to the Championship takes some doing.
"But right now it's a new era for Leeds United Football Club and if it's anywhere near as successful as the Don Revie era - God bless him - then there are good times ahead."
Wednesday arrived at Elland Road on the back of three straight wins but Leeds ultimately proved too strong.
After Butler headed home Jonathan Douglas' hooked cross, Cresswell added a header of his own from Gary Kelly's corner before adding an injury-time tap-in.
Blackwell paid tribute to the former Wednesday striker, adding: "That's the dream for everyone - to play against your old club and be man of the match with a couple of goals.
"He'll have a good weekend, I think. The three points were vital and I felt we looked a good strong team today and showed no signs of tiredness from the Wigan game on Tuesday.
"I thought 3-0 was a fair result and am pleased with the attitude of the players."
Owls boss Paul Sturrock felt there was several positives to come out of the defeat.
He said: "In the end the first goal was key, but I didn't feel it was a 3-0 result. I'm not downhearted and I've learned a few things today about my players.
"I've learned we are not a 4-3-3 team, but needs must today because we needed to get up there in their faces.
"You probably learn more in defeat than you do when you win. We're going to get healthier now because we've got 10 days without a game and we live to fight another day."
Sturrock reserved praise for Wednesday's 3,000 travelling supporters, who never stopped backing their team throughout the game.
He said: "The result will be hard for them to take because they were magnificent today and will find losing to one of their deadliest rivals a bitter pill to swallow."
Cress Hell For Owls: United 3 Wednesday 0

A Richard Cresswell double against his former club helped secure all three points for United as they won the Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday.

United boss Kevin Blackwell was forced into changes for the visit of Sheffield Wednesday due to injury and suspension.
Matthew Kilgallon picked up a knock on his knee in the FA Cup game with Wigan and failed to recover in time to feature, his place went to Sean Gregan, back in the side for the first time in nine games.
Rob Hulse's suspension saw Richard Cresswell get a start against one of his former teams, whilst Robbie Blake was prefered to David Healy despite the Northern Ireland international's two goals in midweek.
There was some good news on the injury front with Shaun Derry returning to action after a hamstring injury, Simon Walton dropping out again after coming in for the Wigan game.
Sheffield Wednesday kept the same side that beat Leicester City in their previous game a week ago.

The Match
Leeds began well with Richard Cresswell forcing an early corner with not even a minute played, and from it the Whites came close to taking the lead through a most unlikely source.
Sean Gregan, only in the side after injury struck Matthew Kilgallon, was 16 yards out on the right hand side of the area when the ball fell to him after the corner and he volleyed it goalwards only to see it kept out by the foot of Peter Gilbert on the line.
United went on to notch up four corners in the opening ten minutes, and it appeared to be just a matter of time before Wednesday's defence gave way under the pressure.
Jonathan Douglas had a chance after the quarter hour mark but ended up flat on the deck after getting a whack on the head. Cresswell's running had the Owls in all sorts of trouble at the back, and when Kelly swung the ball towards Douglas just eight yards out, he might have expected to score himself but his header found keeper Nicky Weaver's hands.
Leeds were putting good moves together but getting little reward for their industry. Cresswell's back heel allowed Kelly to get a good cross into the centre that Blake first missed but it fell nicely for Lewis to hit but the American could only hit the ball into the deck, he was though forced to use his weaker right foot.
The visitors had their spells in the first half too though, and they forced a few corners out of the Whites defence just before the half hour mark. Gilbert's header that was turned behind by Crainey on the line for another corner was about as near as they came to a goal.
Five minutes before half time Gregan had a half chance when he volleyed a free-kick from Kelly over the bar from the penalty spot.
The game died a death in the minutes leading up to half-time, the second half would hopefully be more entertaining and reward the biggest crowd of the season at Elland Road with some goals.
Just as at the start of the first half, Leeds put Wednesday under some heavy pressure at the start of the second half but the visitors held out.
The game quickly returned to the midfield battle but worryingly the visitors were seeing much more of the ball and would later create some great chances for themselves.
David Healy came on just after the hour for Robbie Blake to try and inject some life into Leeds
A minute later and Owls skipper Graham Coughlan was celebrating prematurely when he thought he's scored with a close range header, but Sullivan managed to make the save and then he couldn't quite hold onto it but Kelly cleared the danger.
The game finally sprung to life in the 71st minute when Leeds broke the deadlock.
Kelly's cross was met in the penalty area by skipper Paul Butler and his initial header saw the ball go across the face of goal where it looked likely it would be snapped up by Owls keeper Weaver.
Instead it was a great effort from Douglas to hook the ball back across the face of goal with Weaver just failing to close him down in time, and Butler having stayed in the six yard box was presented with a simple header back into the goal.
At long last there was something to cheer about and the Wednesday fans, who had made most of the noise, were silenced.
Former United trainee Barry Corr was one of two Wednesday substitutes to come on in the last quarter hour of the game, replacing John Hills. Ritchie Partridge also came on for Glen Wheelan.
Leeds doubled their advantage with a goal that must have left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Wednesday fans.
Who else, other than former Owls striker Richard Cresswell to score it. The striker's family are split between Leeds and Wednesday fans but doubtless both sides will have cheered his diving header on the end of Kelly's corner.
Cresswell had to get down low to get to the ball but still managed to get good power behind it and Weaver could only watch the ball fly past him.
With the points seemingly in the bag, Blackwell gave Liam Miller a rest and brought on Simon Walton for the last eight minutes.
The midfielder played a crucial part in United's third goal of the afternoon and Richard Cresswell's second, coming in injury time.
He broke forward from midfield to pick up a pass from Crainey and delivered in inch perfect cross from Simon Walton that the striker stuck away without any hassle for his sixth goal of the season. That wrapped up a satisfying result for Leeds, who got the defeat at Hillsborough, one of the worst performances of the season, well and truly out of their system.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Sporting Life

Leeds are reportedly set to offer David Healy as a makeweight and an additional £500,000 to push through a deal to lure Jason Koumas to Elland Road.
Whites boss Kevin Blackwell has long been linked with a swoop for Koumas, who has impressed on loan for Cardiff this season.
But the £2.5million fee that the Baggies are demanding for the Wales international is beyond the spending powers of both the Bluebirds and Leeds.
However, Blackwell's Albion counterpart Bryan Robson is known to be in the market for a new striker, with both Kanu and Diomany Kamara on African Nations Cup duty and the future of Robert Earnshaw shrouded in doubt.
And it is thought Leeds' offer of Healy, plus cash, would be enough to tempt Robson to do business.
Healy has endured a frustrating time at Elland Road since his switch from Preston in October 2004, being asked to play out of the position in a wide attacking role and often falling victim to Blackwell's squad rotation.
In spite of that, Healy has scored 12 goals in 29 appearances this season and is considered one of Leeds' most saleable assets.The Northern Ireland hitman - who netted his country's winning goal against England in September - has also been linked with a move to Everton, who are also on the look-out for a striker following the £2million sale of Marcus Bent to Charlton.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Leeds 3-3 Wigan (aet)
Wigan win 4-2 on penalties


Wigan edged into the FA Cup fourth round after a penalty shoot-out.
David Healy, who had scored a penalty in normal time, missed for Leeds, as did Rob Hulse with their fourth kick.
In normal time Andreas Johansson gave Wigan the lead, before David Healy volleyed in, only for Jason Roberts' shot to make it 2-1 on 50 minutes.
Healy converted a penalty to level the tie for a second time, before Roberts then powered in a header, but Gary Kelly's dipping shot to make it 3-3.
There might have been more than the six goals, but Gary Teale's first-half swerving shot hit the bar, while a similar effort for Leeds from Eddie Lewis also struck the woodwork.
On 76 minutes Liam Miller hit the bar for a second time for Leeds with a superbly executed shot.
Healy was heavily involved in the game's first chance when a Miller run opened up the Wigan defence.
Miller's pass was cleverly dummied by Hulse, allowing the ball to run through to Healy, but from an acute angle the Northern Ireland striker hit the side netting.
Healy's next contribution was rather less effective as the Northern Ireland striker lazily conceded possession.
Teale pounced on Healy's mistake and surged forward, before hitting a swerving shot that skimmed the crossbar.
Midway through the first half the ball came back off the Leeds crossbar for a second time, but this time Wigan converted the rebound.
Johansson was set free by Roberts' pass and although the Swede's first effort hit the post, he reacted quickly to prod the ball past Neil Sullivan.
Completely against the run of play Leeds drew level from a corner five minutes before the interval.
Leighton Baines managed to clear Hulse's header off the line, but the Wigan defender could no do nothing to prevent Healy hooking the ball home.
Wigan regained the lead on 50 minutes when Roberts took advantage of some hesitant Leeds defending, swivelling before directing a short into the corner of the net.
Leeds responded in bullish fashion and Lewis hit the bar with a left-footed shot.
Just past the hour Leeds won a penalty when Hulse put the Wigan defence under pressure for a second time following a corner.
Jackson raised his hand as he jumped for the ball with Hulse and referee Graham Poll immediately gave the penalty.
Healy made no mistake with his spot-kick.
Wigan, who were only able to name four substitutes due to injury, suspension and players away on African Cup of Nations duty, could have been forgiven for approaching extra-time with trepidation.
But Roberts looked to have won the game for Paul Jewell's side in the 103rd minute when he got on the end of a Graham Kavanagh cross to thump a header past Sullivan.
With five minutes remaining Leeds equalised for a third time with the best goal of the match.
Veteran Kelly controlled the ball on his chest before hitting an unstoppable shot into the roof of the net to send the tie to penalties.
Wigan's reward for negotiating their way past Leeds is a fourth-round tie away at Manchester City.
Leeds: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Crainey, Miller (Einarsson 87), Walton (Blake 103), Douglas, Lewis (Cresswell 88), Hulse, Healy.Subs Not Used: Bennett, Pugh.
Booked: Walton.
Goals: Healy 41, 64 pen, Kelly 116.
Wigan: Filan, Chimbonda, De Zeeuw, Jackson, Baines, Teale, Francis (Bullard 77), Kavanagh, Skoko (Joyce 100), Johansson, Roberts.Subs Not Used: Pollitt, Lee.
Goals: Johansson 24, Roberts 50, 103.
Att: 15,243. Ref: G Poll (Hertfordshire)

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Brighton 2 Leeds 1: Hart proves good value
Ivo Tennant at Withdean stadium
Sunday Times

BRIGHTON had presented a reasoned argument before the kick-off in defence of having spent more than £250,000 on agents’ commissions in the past six months. For an impecunious club like theirs, they stated, money spent on securing players on loan saved them having to fork out on high transfer fees. Nonetheless Brighton manager Mark McGhee admitted that he had been offered, and had turned down, a "bung" when in charge of Wolves.
Having been told in no uncertain terms by Charlie Oatway, their captain who will be missing for the rest of the season, that nothing less than hyper-charged performances will suffice if they are to avoid relegation, Brighton performed initially as they had when defeating Leeds in the corresponding fixture last season. They had sufficient chances in the opening 15 minutes to win the match. Dean Hammond headed against a post; Richard Carpenter slid a shot just past.
When Brighton went ahead after 10 minutes, it was no less than they deserved. A low cross from Alexandre Frutos, whose control was to the fore throughout this opening period, was neatly touched in with the outside of his right boot by Paul Reid.
Leeds were without Dan Harding, the former Brighton left-back, but able to leave Rob Hulse, scorer of two goals in their last two matches, on the substitute’s bench. Their strength here was generally apparent in their surges through the inside-right channel, and chiefly from Robbie Blake, who had a drive cleared off the goal line before he scored. His penalty, three minutes before the interval, came when Eddie Lewis was upended by Reid in an unnecessarily clumsy manner. Blake struck his spot kick in off Michael Kuipers’ right hand post. They had one further chance in this opening first half: Paul Butler placed a free header well wide of goal.
There were scant openings in the second half. The decisive goal came after 79 minutes when Reid, who went off immediately afterwards, picked out Gary Hart with a sweeping cross from the right wing. This was the first time he had scored this season, in part because he has spent virtually all of it in midfield.
"We can take a lot of heart from moving out of the bottom three in the table although I know we have only just clawed our way out," said McGhee. " We are in the market for forwards but Gary Hart has shown that he can have another two years in the game.
"I have said many times this season that we are not very far from being a very good team. We are very close to making what we hope will be signings of a quality that will improve our staff, but the limitations the club is under means we are facing a constant battle."
STAR MAN: Paul Reid (Brighton)
Player ratings: Brighton: Kuipers 6, El-Abd 6, McShane 6, Butters 6, Lynch 6, Reid 8 (Robinson 81, 5), Carpenter 6, Hammond 6, Frutos 7, Carole 7, Hart 7
Leeds: Sullivan 6, Kelly 6, Kilgallon 6, Butler 6, Crainey 7, Blake (Healy 78, 5), Derry 7, Miller 5 (Hulse 69, 6), Lewis 6 (Pugh 82, 5), Douglas 6, Cresswell 6
Scorers: Brighton: Reid 9, Hart 80
Leeds: Blake 38 (pen)
Referee: A D’Urso
Attendance: 7,415

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Gylfi's Over The Moon

United midfielder Gylfi Einarsson is delighted after agreeing a new deal that keeps him at the club until the summer of 2008.
The Icelandic international would have been out of contract in the summer and had no hesitation in re-signing once a new one was offered.
He arrived on a free transfer last January after four years with Norwegian side Lillestrom and quickly began to impress with his aerial ability, scoring with a cracking header in the win over Burnley at Turf Moor on his third appearance.
Gylfi has made 13 appearances this season - the last of which did prove to be unlucky as he received a red card for a foul on Robbie Savage in the Carling Cup defeat at Blackburn Rovers.
He then went on to suffer a dislocated shoulder playing for the reserves against Birmingham City from which he has only just recovered from, and he's understandably relieved to have some good news to talk about now.
"I am very happy to have signed a new contract," said Gylfi.
"I've not had the best of times recently after dislocating my shoulder, but I am happy that people believe in me and think I am a good player.
"Leeds have not seen the best of me yet but I am getting better and I think the time is right for me to show what I can do, especially with the team playing 4-3-3 which suits me the best.
"But at the moment the team is doing well so I have to wait for my chance and of course I have not played a game in a long while. It's up to me to train extra-hard and get extra-fit."
The 27-year-old will step up his comeback from that shoulder injury in tomorrow's reserve game against Manchester United away, his first competitive action since early November, and has already set himself a target.
"I am looking forward to getting through the game without any problems and then hopefully get a place on the bench against Brighton.
"I have to just take it one step at a time, make sure I am 100 per cent fit because I am ahead of schedule with my recovery and I have to thank our good team of physios for that.
"They work really hard to get everyone fit and I don't think you could get a better team of physios at any club."
Einarsson, who now plans to buy a house in Leeds, recently had "the privilege" of watching the win at Plymouth with United's now renowned away following, and he argues they are another reason Leeds United is a first class club.
"Simon Walton and I have been travelling with team, even though we haven't been playing, and at Plymouth we sat with the Leeds fans and I must say it was a good experience.
"I enjoyed it because the supporters are tremendous and did not stop singing once, even when the team were not doing too well in the first half. I talked to a lot of them and they were all nice people.
"I was just getting into the mood of it all with them and thought about taking my shirt off and waving it over my head like they do, but then I thought it would be best not to with my shoulder!
"The point is it's easy to be a supporter when things are going well for your club, but Leeds supporters have shown they are true supporters, even in hard times and they will support you as long as they see you giving everything you have got.
"Players do appreciate the support, we just have to look at how many travel to see us every week and we know this is a special club."He added finally: "Our ambition this season is to reach the Premiership, that's what we agreed before the season and with this squad of players we know we can do it."

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Wigan 1 Leeds 1: Weary Wigan running out of options
Jonathan Northcroft at JJB stadium
Sunday Times

YOU could tell from his three men up front, and two further strikers on the bench, that Kevin Blackwell was an acolyte of Neil Warnock. Happily for Leeds United, their manager appears to have picked up a thing or two from his mentor about ambushing better opponents in the cup.
Wigan Athletic dominated until right-back Ryan Taylor limped off with, as manager Paul Jewell put it, “that fashionable injury”, a broken metatarsal. That was in the 77th minute and Leeds were 1-0 behind.
Blackwell had 15 minutes to turn the tie around and seized his chance. Taylor’s injury meant Wigan had to last out the game with 10 men, Jewell having already used his three substitutes. Blackwell replaced Jonathan Douglas with Richard Cresswell, which meant, with David Healy also on, he had three centre- forwards on the pitch, who were abetted by an impressive winger, Eddie Lewis.
Heavy shelling followed. Stephane Henchoz did his best to co-ordinate resistance in the trenches, but finally Wigan were breached. With Lee McCulloch struggling to get back, having injured himself upfield, the home team had to defend a corner with nine men. Lewis bent it in and Matt Jackson appeared to handle the ball. Some players stopped, Rob Hulse didn’t and rammed a shot into the net.
With Steve McMillan also carrying an injury, Wigan were spent and Leeds almost squeezed out a victory in the frantic moments that were left. Both managers agreed a draw was fair — and unwelcome because of the replay.
Blackwell said: “We might as well settle for penalties now. It’s no disrespect to the FA Cup but we’ve both got bigger fish to fry.”
It was Leeds’ fourth game in eight days and the Premiership is the prize they seek. On this evidence, Leeds will require further rebuilding if they do manage to go up. They are as subtle as the blond streaks of Matthew Kilgallon’s hair.
Long shots and set-pieces had been their best bet until Taylor’s injury. Jewell was angry that his side hadn’t put the game out of sight before then. They had chances, David Connolly going clear twice down the left channel but bending one shot wide after cutting back on to his right foot and hitting the other straight at Neil Sullivan.
Andreas Johansson had a sight of goal from a corner but Lewis, manning a post, cleared his header off the line.
The first half was bland but the second period had intrigue from the moment Connolly came out and warmed up in front of the Leeds end. This was not well received by supporters who had developed a disliking for the Irishman during his time with Leicester City.
Their decibel level increased when, immediately, Lewis robbed Josip Skoko and crossed to give Robbie Blake a chance from close range, only for McMillan to block. But Connolly hushed them two minutes later. McCulloch chested Taylor’s throw, turned well, and flashed the ball across the six-yard box. Connolly saw it late but, with an instinctive toe, turned the ball home.
The feeble crowd of only 10,980 reflected how locals were saving their pennies for Tuesday’s Carling Cup semi-final first leg against Arsenal, and Taylor’s injury places further strain on Jewell’s squad. If Wigan win the replay they will be required to play nine games in January and 13 games in the 38 days since Boxing Day.
STAR MAN: Eddie Lewis (Leeds)
Player ratings. Wigan: Filan 5, Taylor 7, Jackson 6, Henchoz 6, McMillan 6, Johansson 5 (Kavanagh 73min, 6), Skoko 6 (Roberts 72min, 6), Francis 5, Mahon 6 (Teale 57min, 6), Connolly 7, McCulloch 7
Leeds: Sullivan 6, Kelly 6, Butler 6, Kilgallon 6, Crainey 6, Miller 6, Derry 5, Douglas 5 (Cresswell 79min, 6), Lewis 7, Hulse 6, Blake 5 (Healy 68min, 6)
Scorers: Wigan: Connolly 47
Leeds: Hulse 88
Referee: G Poll Attendance: 10,980

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Wigan 1-1 Leeds

Rob Hulse struck a late equaliser to stun Wigan and earn Leeds an FA Cup third round replay.
Hulse scrambled home from close range with two minutes left after Eddie Lewis' cross caused confusion in the Wigan penalty area.
David Connolly's 47th minute goal, when he turned in Lee McCulloch's cross, looked to have give Wigan the win.
Connolly fired narrowly off target as Wigan pressed for a second, but Hulse gave the Championship side a draw.
Wigan boss Paul Jewell was keen to rest some of his squad after the hectic holiday programme, and made seven changes from the side that lost 2-0 at Birmingham.
Leeds, with Hulse replacing Richard Cresswell up front, made the brighter start and Wigan were grateful to recalled keeper John Filan when he plunge bravely at the feet of Jonathon Douglas to save.
Wigan responded with a far post header from captain Matt Jackson as he stole in on Alan Mahon's cross, but Neil Sullivan was well-placed to clear the danger.
And the Premiership side made the breakthrough after 47 minutes when McCulloch's cross was turned in at the near post by Connolly.
Wigan were lifted by the goal, and Damien Francis was narrowly off target in their next attack.
Andreas Johansson then almost doubled Wigan's lead with a header from Ryan Taylor's corner that was scrambled off the line by Matthew Kilgallon.
Leeds had rarely threatened, but Robbie Blake almost got on the end of a dangerous cross from Lewis after 67 minutes.
Liam Miller then fired over from the edge of the area as the Championship promotion-chasers finally increased the tempo.
Connolly nearly caught Leeds on the break with 11 minutes left when he raced clear and cut into the area, only to fire inches wide.
He then tested Sullivan with a powerful drive seconds later which was blocked by the veteran keeper. Then with Wigan looking to hold on and seal a fourth round place, Hulse took advantage of slack defending to shoot powerfully past Filan from eight yards.

Friday, January 06, 2006

No Rush For The January Sales

The January sales may have started with the opening of the transfer window but manager Kevin Blackwell insists he is happy to wait for the right 'bargains'.
Leeds continue to be linked with a number of names both home and abroad but Blackwell is remaining silent about exactly who he's after, and said any new arrivals might not be until much later in the transfer window.
"At the moment there's no point confirming or denying an interest in any player we are linked with - let's just keep people guessing.
"We are being linked with a lot of players because everyone knows I am out to get a right sided player. The fact we haven't had Steve Stone has affected my decisions and certain styles I might want to play in games because of the lack of an out and out right winger.
"If I can find one that fits the bill I am sure the Chairman will help me bring him into the football club."
Blackwell's immediate concern is to extend the loan period of midfielder Liam Miller from Manchester United, but points out that the squad has been quietly strengthened already this transfer window without spending a penny.
"At the moment I have to look at a few other things happening at the club too, we've had Jermaine Wright come back from loan fit and sharp, there's Michael Ricketts back too and then there's Steve Stone who could really fire us up when he's fit. So those three are really like new signings to me."
He is though still actively scouting players and it's no surprise to see some of the big names the club is linked with.
"I am hopeful that the days are coming soon when all the big names that get mentioned are actually coming to Leeds.
"Every team is always looking to improve the squad and we are no different. We did a big job 18 months ago in clearing out all the players and bringing in new players and then did another big time around March last year, another in the summer when we brought nine in and now it's about looking at the single factors that will make a difference for the club. If we stand still we will go backwards.
"The biggest signing I could ever make is patience. People need to understand where we are going and where have come from, and if that happens then we have a big future."

Monday, January 02, 2006

Four Out Of Four: Plymouth 0 United 3

A stunning second half performance from Leeds at Home Park gave Kevin Blackwell's men their fourth consecutive win and put the icing on a very Merry Christmas indeed.

United boss Kevin Blackwell was able to name an unchanged team following on from Saturday's win over Hull City. It meant Richard Cresswell and Robbie Blake continued their partnership upfront with David Healy and Rob Hulse still on the bench.

The Match
Leeds are never quite at their best under the glare of the Sky cameras and the game itself didn't quite produce the excitement the TV executives may have hoped for from the opening quarter hour.
That didn't stop the United fans from enjoying themselves in the stand behind Neil Sullivan's goal after a six hour drive from Leeds. They were up waving their shirts over their heads from the start and at least gave the game a decent atmosphere.
Early action points saw Eddie Lewis deliver a corner straight into the keeper's arms, then at the other end Matthew Kilgallon was at full stretch to turn the ball away from Scott Taylor inside the area.
Kilgallon had been excellent in the derby game with Hull two days earlier and the England under-21 international was to be found in good form again.
Leeds first real chance came after ten minutes when Jonathan Douglas, fresh from his double striker against the Tigers, looked to turn provider with a cross behind the Plymouth defence that Robbie Blake came within a whisker of meeting but in the end the keeper collected comfortably.
Neil Sullivan's only real test was to hold onto a low drive from Plymouth's Hungarian midfielder Akos Buzsaky.
Midway through the half Stephen Crainey took a battering at the hands of Mickey Evans when they both went up for a header together, and the Scot required a bit of treatment.
The Whites, some 16 places ahead of The Pilgrims, began to play with the assuredness of a team towards the top of the table but still couldn't trouble Plymouth keeper Larrieu with any real chances.
It looked promising after another Lewis corner eventually saw Derry burst into the box with the ball at his feet but he could only win another corner as a fair tackle went in to take the ball away from him.
Leeds kept pressing on the edge of the Plymouth penalty area and gradually the chances started to come. Liam Miller played a pass quickly to Cresswell and the striker had a clear shot on goal but took too long and the tackle took the chance away.
The first effort on target came from Cresswell's clever back-heel after he met Lewis's cross inside the six-yard box, but the ball was plucked out of the air by Larrieu.
Just before half-time Robbie Blake's shot deflected off Jarrett and only just went wide of the right hand post. Plymouth were starting to live dangerously and Leeds will have been disappointed not to have punished them for it at the break.
Neither side made any changes at half-time and it was Plymouth who had the first real chance of the half. A cross was placed perfectly for Micky Evans but the striker didn't get enough power behind his header and Sullivan will have had fewer easier takes this season.
Miller's low drive into the box created all manner of problems for the Plymouth keeper who couldn't hold onto it and conceded the corner from which Leeds eventually got the opening goal.
It came on 53 minutes as another half-cleared corner fell to Eddie Lewis on the edge of the area who fired the ball back into a crowded penalty box where Cresswell just got a slight touch to turn the ball in.
Right on the hour it was 2-0 as Eddie Lewis produced exactly the sort of cross that Kevin Blackwell brought him to Elland Road for.
The cross was right across the face of goal and behind the defenders for Blake at the back post to hammer home. Larrieu got a hand to the shot but there was nothing he could do to stop Blake from claiming his second goal of the festive season.
It was well deserved for the former Birmingham City man, who had done everything he could but score in the previous game against Hull. Blake had two more good chances almost stright afterwards to really kill off Plymouth's hopes of a comeback.
First Cresswell knocked it back towards him at the back post again and Blake tried to hook it back to goal with the ball slightly behind him, but it looped onto the roof of the net.
Then Good work from Lewis saw the American win the ball back for Leeds down the left and find Blake making the run forward. He came close again as his shot across the face of goal skimmed the far post. Ten minutes before the end and Leeds fashioned another good chance for themselves, again for Blake.
Liam Miller robbed Djordic in midfield and threaded the ball for Blake who cut inside and just didn't put enough power behind his curling drive to trouble the goal.
Wotton could have made the game more interesting had his shot gone from the edge of the area found the target, instead it nearly cleared the stand behind Neil Sullivan, a bystander in the second half.
Liam Miller was hacked down inside the penalty area by Kouo-Doumbe with five minutes remaining and Rob Hulse, who had only just replaced Robbie Blake, was given the task of putting away the spot-kick.
He stepped up and hit an unstoppable drive past Larrieu to score his first goal since October. It was all too comfortable for Leeds in the end and they wrapped up a fantastic festive period with 12 points out of 12, also the first time they had won four consecutive games for nearly five years.

All hell breaks loose - new pages uploaded at

I've just uploaded my review of the Fairs Cup game between Leeds United and Valencia on 2 February 1966 All hell breaks loose at Elland Road as an experienced Spanish side turn on the rough stuff, the players are taken off the field and three men are dismissed - including Jack Charlton. Read the full story at

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Sporting Life

Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell insists the race for automatic promotion remains wide open after his side's 2-0 victory against Yorkshire rivals Hull.
On-loan Blackburn midfielder Jonathan Douglas grabbed a goal in either half to secure Leeds their third successive Coca-Cola Championship victory.
Runaway leaders Reading looked to have given themselves an insurmountable lead at the summit while second-placed Sheffield United also have a healthy cushion on Blackwell's side.
But the Elland Road boss believes it is eminently possible that his side can claim a top-two finish.
He said: "I think anything is possible and if you don't think it is then you shouldn't be in management.
"It's an old adage but it's about taking one game at a time. We dealt with Stoke and then we focused on dealing with Hull today.
"That's what we've got to do and we shall see where we end up. Since June, a total of 12 new players have come to the club and it takes time to build, gel and have an understanding.
"I felt that we would improve in the second half of the season because we would get stronger after getting that six months under our belt.
"The players have shown good qualities and we'll need them between now and the end of the season."
Hull boss Peter Taylor admitted Leeds cannot be discounted from the automatic promotion.
He said: "Kevin has got some very, very good strikers and to be able to put on David Healy and Rob Hulse in the second half tells its own story.
"Looking at Reading and Sheffield United and the points they've got, I would be surprised to see them blow it, but who knows?"
Blackwell confirmed he is looking strengthen his squad during the transfer window, and on-loan Manchester United midfielder Liam Miller looks almost certain to sign on a permanent basis.
The Leeds boss admitted his side were below-par during the opening period of their first meeting with Hull for almost 16 years.
But they survived several scares to open the scoring on the stroke of half-time through Douglas' neat finish.
And the midfielder headed home his second shortly after the restart to effectively secure the points.
Blackwell added: "We started sloppily but in the end we won it quite comfortably and it could have been bigger.
"But you always accept a 2-0 win and it would be nice to go down and get a win at Plymouth now."
Taylor took heart from his side's first-half display but pointed an accusing finger at his goalkeeper, Boaz Myhill, after he flapped at Eddie Lewis' corner, which allowed Douglas to add the killer second.
Wigan, along with Middlesbrough and Arsenal, have been linked with a swoop for Myhill, who is considered one of the finest goalkeepers outside of the Premiership.
But Taylor said: "If Wigan are listening, then yes, it was a mistake. I think if he's going to get something on it then he's got to get more on it than what he did, or he's got to stay where he is.
"That's where the second goal was frustrating because I thought we did very well in the first half and coped very well.
"We were a little bit down going in 1-0 down at half-time and maybe Leeds took confidence from that after the break.
"But I couldn't have been happier with the way we started and we will take plusses from the performance because we showed no fear during the first half."