Saturday, March 29, 2008 29/3/08
As expected, Gary McAllister named an unchanged side from the one which accounted for Walsall last weekend.
Brighton arrived on the back of a run that saw them two points clear of Leeds at kick-off, but it was the home side who threatened first when David Prutton saw a free-kick deflected to safety.
Tempers also flared after just seven minutes when Neil Kilkenny and Therry Racon traded pushes in the middle of the park.
United started brightly and came close to opening the scoring on 13 minutes. Dougie Freedman's shot from inside the box beat Brighton keeper Michel Kuipers, but Andrew Whing hacked it clear off the line.
Jonny Howson was next to go close when he tried his luck from distance and Freedman stabbed a shot wide on 21 minutes after a good delivery from Bradley Johnson.
United were enjoying a good spell and an unsighted Kuipers was relieved to see a Prutton shot fizz past the outside of the post.
A heavy downpour made conditions increasingly greasy, and the undercurrent between the two sides was never far away either. Five minutes before the break, Racon was booked after a clash with Freedman.
Alan Sheehan took the resultant free-kick and his well-struck shot drifted narrowly wide.
JoeLynch was next to concede a free-kick and pick up a yellow card when he tangled with Freedman on the edge of the box. That free-kick was scrambled clear after Johnson combined with Sheehan, and when Freedman returned the ball into the box, Kuipers had to be alert to push his shot over the top.
Brighton were now firmly on the back-foot - Howson tried his luck again moments before the interval with a shot from distance - but they managed one raid in time added on when Darren Kenton reacted well to clear.
It was United who started the second period strongly, though, and Jermaine Beckford shot wide after a Kenton cross. The striker also had a shot deflected wide.
Just seven minutes into the second period there was another melee involving players of both sides, and Sheehan was booked for a challenge on Racon.
But still United continued to threaten, Howson forcing Kuipers into an excellent save with a strike from distance.
Two minutes before the hour-mark, McAllister made an enforced change when a limping Johnson was replaced by Jonathan Douglas.
Brighton mounted a rare attack on 61 minutes, but United's reply came courtesy of a long kick from Casper Ankergren which found Freedman. The striker raced clear of the defenders but was denied by a vital touch from Kuipers.
Amazingly, the visitors had the ball in the net moments later, but the effort was disallowed for offside. And, they quickly fired another warning shot, returning the free-kick straight back downfield to Nicky Forster, who blazed his shot wide with only Ankergren to beat.
At the other end, Beckford lifted a shot over on 70 minutes after more good work by the persistent Kenton.
With 14 minutes left on the clock, McAllister made his second change, Tresor Kandol replacing Kilkenny to form a three-man front-line with Beckford and Freedman.
But it was Leeds who had some defending to do when Rui Marques cleared an inswinging free-kick from Kerry Mayo as Brighton looked to force an opening. In reply, Beckford tested Kuipers from just inside the box.
Brighton, who were making a strong finish, saw Steve Thomson lift a shot over the bar on 86 minutes and Marques did well to rob Forster on the flank.
Three minutes of added time gave both sides hope of snatching a winning goal and Kandol almost snatched it in the dying seconds, following a Beckford cross.
But the 0-0 draw ensured the status quo remained between the two sides, with Brighton two points clear of Leeds.

Guardian 29/3/08
The uphill task of righting Leeds wrongs
Louise Taylor
Saturday March 29, 2008
Integrity and Leeds United have often seemed strangers in recent years but Gary McAllister has made reacquainting the club with principles a hallmark of his return to Elland Road. Sitting behind the table where, mere months ago, Dennis Wise explained why his players needed to "be nastier", the man whose playmaking prowess helped Howard Wilkinson's Leeds become league champions in 1992 spelt out a radically - and refreshingly - different mission statement last week.
"I believe that, as coaches and managers, we have a duty to try and promote good football and help players play the game properly," insists McAllister, who maintains it is entirely feasible for Leeds to escape from League One this season without resorting to kick-and-rush or indulging in cynical gamesmanship.
Big on discipline, McAllister, who became manager at the end of January when Wise accepted a direction-changing, salary-tripling executive role with Newcastle United, has created a training-ground culture whereby first-team players virtually jump to hold doors open for visitors before volunteering greetings and directions. It all appears light years removed from the day, not so long ago, when a homebound Lee Bowyer gunned his BMW so ferociously that the guard manning the practice ground's security barrier had literally to dive for cover.
Back then Leeds were riding high in the Champions League, David O'Leary was deemed hot managerial property and the seeds of football's version of Northern Rock's collapse had already been sown at boardroom level. Nowadays the training base near Wetherby is a quieter place.
Unlike certain predecessors, McAllister, the club's seventh manager in six eventful years, has been warmly welcomed by fans who have idolised him since 1992. "We've had little dips but the supporters have been amazing," says the Scot, who regards that title triumph as the highlight of a career that also encompassed a stint with Coventry City and an Indian summer at Liverpool. "As a player I spent my best, and happiest, years here. I was in my prime and Leeds got into my blood."
The good times were not destined to endure. McAllister married in 1993 but only 10 years later resigned as Coventry's manager in order to look after Denise, by then terminally ill with breast cancer, and their two sons. She died in March 2006 and, bar some television punditry, the Leeds job marks his return to the outside world. Understandably, the recent past is not a period of his life he wishes to discuss. "What happened is something I keep very close to myself. I'm here to talk about football," he insists.
Since receiving a summons from Ken Bates, Leeds's owner, he has found the game all-consuming. "It's been a total blur. Time's flying by and I'm absolutely loving it," he says. "It took me two seconds to accept the offer. The lure of this club is so great I couldn't even begin to think about turning it down. It was a chance to help Leeds get back to where they should be."
Cynics suggested it was a poisoned chalice. Despite being docked 15 points by the Football League for abuses of its insolvency regulations last summer - a punishment currently the subject of an appeal, to be heard next month - newly relegated Leeds began this season strongly, taking League One by storm.
The points deficit suddenly looked immaterial as the team inexorably climbed the table, but then Gus Poyet, Wise's assistant, left for Tottenham Hotspur and results slipped. Discord between Wise and certain players resurfaced and few were heartbroken when he departed.
"I would say from the moment Gus left things weren't maybe going quite so well here," McAllister reflects. "I think Gus was very influential; I think he was a good go-between, a good buffer between the players and Dennis." So talk of dressing-room turbulence post-Poyet was well founded? "Yes," says McAllister, the traces of a smile playing at the corners of his mouth. "The players' mood was a bit sombre when I arrived."
Indeed, he did not see them win until his fifth appearance in the dugout but despite some average results - four draws and two defeats have balanced three wins under his management, leaving Leeds on the fringe of the play-off zone going into today's home game against Brighton - Elland Road regulars insist entertainment levels are gradually increasing.
"I absolutely believe that you can play passing football in League One," stresses the 43-year-old, whose judicious use of the loan system has enabled him to trim an unfeasibly large squad to about 20 while spicing up his attack by borrowing Dougie Freedman from Crystal Palace.
His essential belief in the beautiful game is combined with an appreciation of sports science and psychology garnered during seasons spent working with Wilkinson, Gordon Strachan and Gérard Houllier. "I'm into things like psychology, but I don't want to change too much too soon. I've just altered smaller things like the tempo of training and introduced a few discipline things."
Some are pinched from Houllier. "At Liverpool I sometimes wondered why, oh why, Gérard was so pernickety, but over time I realised that taking care of so many small things in training and preparation carries through into games.
"If you've been focused and disciplined all week you're more likely to stay disciplined when you're hanging on in the final few minutes of a vital match. It's all about setting standards - and here we've got to the stage of the season where the right mentality is going to play a big part."
Nonetheless McAllister remains far closer to Strachan - "I speak to him regularly; he's inspiring" - and Wilkinson than Houllier. "Howard's preparation was as meticulous as that of any manager I've come across," he says. "He was very similar to Gérard. He was ahead of his time and he's someone I can always pick up the phone to for a wee bit of advice."
Bates is currently taking legal advice about Leeds's impending appeal. Expert opinion seems divided as to the likely outcome but a compromise could conceivably be reached whereby Leeds would regain five points. Sensibly, McAllister flatly refuses to waste emotional energy poring over the potential permutations.
"I felt deducting 15 points was extremely harsh," he said. "But I've kept myself completely divorced from the issue. I have to focus on getting enough points to ensure we don't need any back. I've never heard players talking about the appeal and I don't want them discussing it. If they win promotion with all those points whacked off it would be an almighty achievement."
Yet even Championship football would not erase an indelible stain on the club's history. "Leeds United should be in Europe, not the third tier of English football," says McAllister. "But I can understand how it all went so wrong here. A lot of clubs have taken far too many incredible financial risks."
Some deemed his decision to return to football on a short-term contract an excessive gamble but McAllister, who enjoys a "very friendly" relationship with Bates and is expected to stay in charge next season, demurs. "I loved working with Sky, especially covering the Champions League, but the game's in my blood and I always wanted to come back into management. Television's great fun but the adrenaline is not the same; the feeling it produces is nothing like the feeling of winning a game of football. You can't recreate that anywhere."

Highs and lows
Between 1990 and 1998 he won 57 caps and scored five goals, but his career may be remembered more for an incident he would rather forget - the penalty miss against England at Wembley in Euro 1996
Leicester City
After starting at Motherwell he went south in 1985. Leicester struggled in his first season and were relegated in 1987. When he left in 1990 he had scored 47 goals in 201 league games
Leeds United
He arrived after Leeds were promoted to the old First Division in 1990 and two years later helped them win the title in the last season before the Premier League started
Coventry City
Had two spells at Highfield Road, 1996-2000 and 2002-03. At the end of his first spell he surprised many by signing for Liverpool as a 35-year-old
Won the Uefa Cup, the League Cup and the FA Cup in 2001 before returning to Coventry, where he would later be manager. He was awarded an MBE while at Anfield

Monday, March 24, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 24/3/08
Leeds United are Beck to their best
By Phil Hay
Leeds United 2 Walsall 0
DENNIS Wise's answer to criticism of Leeds United's performances was always the same. What logic, he would ask, could there possibly be in altering the approach of a team which was already adept at pulling in results.
His dogmatic attitude to tactics this season was beyond reproach until January, and when it finally came into question Wise downed tools and left Elland Road. Gary McAllister might think of himself as a more cerebral student of football than his predecessor, but the lessons of Wise's incumbency still offer a valuable insight into how best to uncover United's potential.
The squad at Leeds was, and is, at its most effective when playing to its strengths, a statement which is not quite as obvious as it sounds.
Wise would have liked to have swept through League One with panache, and the pressure on him to attempt to do so was intense, but pushing his players beyond their natural limits would have been a debatable strategy. McAllister has quickly come round to the idea that it is better to ensure that a team can walk before they attempt to run.
United defeated Walsall comfortably at Elland Road on Saturday with what came close to their most complete performance of the season. It was unquestionably the best that McAllister has seen of Leeds and it did not seem entirely coincidental that their victory over a club with as strong a claim as United to a play-off position was achieved through an approach reminiscent of the more productive stages of Wise's reign.
McAllister's commitment to passing football was always likely to require a degree of pragmatism and Leeds set out against Walsall with a strategy which was sensibly realistic.
From the initial whistle blown by referee Andy D'Urso, United did what they do best. The players worried less about playing the ball out of defence and more about ensuring that their defence did its job. At no stage since Christmas has the club's backline looked better.
McAllister's players also followed a direct route to Walsall's goal, but with a sense of purpose rather than hope. Long punts served with intent were Wise's forte, at least for a while, and Leeds fed healthily on Saturday on the scraps that this style produced. With the ball at their feet, meanwhile, the speed with which they attempted to reach Walsall's box was a clear improvement from the aimless passing that led to the recent home defeat by Cheltenham Town.
The result was a comprehensive 2-0 victory and the sight of blossoming confidence which allowed Leeds to indulge McAllister's penchant for attractive flair in the second half. It followed the traditional school of thought that says win first and swagger later. United's triumph over a spectacularly unambitious Walsall team was, in that respect, the height of professionalism. And there was no limit to the signs of encouragement.

Telegraph 24/3/08
Dougie Freedman repaying Gary McAllister
By Jeremy Cross
Leeds United (1) 2 Walsall (0) 0
Jermaine Beckford stole the headlines following an impressive brace at Elland Road, but it seems the decision by Gary McAllister, the Leeds United manager, to lure Dougie Freedman to the club could be the masterstroke that sees his side reclaim a Championship place.
McAllister was so keen to persuade Freedman to leave Crystal Palace and join Leeds on loan for the rest of the season that he drove down to London to sweet-talk him. His persistence appears justified.
With Freedman creating space, goals from Beckford in the 30th and 80th minutes were more than enough for Leeds to overcome Walsall and climb to eighth place in the table, just two points off the play-off spots.
McAllister is convinced Freedman's guile and experience will help Beckford and Leeds flourish further as the season enters its final lap.
"It was a big decision for Dougie to come up here and join us; a big wrench because he's got four kids," McAllister said. "But he's fully committed and he's been excellent. He's a clever player who can bring others into the game and he's got so much experience."

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 22/3/08
Beckford at the double for Leeds United
By Phil Hay
Leeds United 2 Walsall 0
It sounded like a dubious prediction, but for one day at least it was as Gary McAllister had hoped.
Leeds United's manager was honest enough to accept that the four points gained from three recent games against clubs in the lower reaches of League One was five points too few, but the admission was tempered by the insistence that a better standard of opposition would force his players to find themselves again.
Lacking momentum after a draw with Port Vale and a defeat to Cheltenham Town, United's spirit was uncovered at Elland Road in exactly the way that McAllister anticipated.
Their conclusive 2-0 victory over Walsall – a club in direct competition with Leeds for inclusion in the play-offs – served the notice of intent that United's manager has waited to patiently to send forth from Elland Road, at the very moment it needed to be sent.
Yesterday's match was the first of five in succession against teams who believe promotion is beckoning them, and McAllister might ask himself whether his players are better suited to the pressure of what the footballing world would call six-pointers.
United's defeat of Walsall was not a sensational rout, but it is doubtful whether Leeds have played with more conviction and assurance in the time that McAllister has held the managerial reins.
Everything about United's display – the precision of passing, the pace of the performance and the quality of defending – was an improvement on the worrying contribution made to their last match at Elland Road, a 2-1 defeat to Cheltenham. It was, perhaps, all that McAllister had wanted.
The fixture threatened to put serious daylight between Leeds and the top six in the event that Walsall fashioned a result, but United are hanging on gamely. With Brighton due to visit Yorkshire next weekend, the opportunity to enhance their own position while damaging that of a club in close proximity to them will present itself again. In the mood that took them yesterday, United will take some beating.
To complement the result, the most satisfying aspect of McAllister's squad selection was the inclusion on the bench of Jonathan Douglas, his first appearance in United's squad since damaging knee ligaments at Walsall 10 days before Christmas.
Jermaine Beckford opened the scoring after 29 minutes, and United never looked back. It helped that Walsall's tactics seemed to revolve around the intention of leaving Yorkshire with a point, but Leeds were worth their victory. There have been too few occasions in his short reign when McAllister has been able to say that.
The importance of the game in relation to the scramble for position in League One was not lost on either club, but the ambition with which Leeds took to the field was in stark contrast to the cautious approach adopted by Richard Money's side.
Walsall's bank of five midfielders left Tommy Mooney, their lone striker, isolated in amongst United's defenders, and Casper Ankergren went virtually untroubled before half-time. The same could not be said of his opposite number, Clayton Ince.
Ince's desperate dive in the fourth minute revealed how close a volley from Beckford had come to creeping into the top corner of his net, and United kept Walsall's goalkeeper engaged regularly enough to satisfy McAllister.
Two shots from David Prutton threatened his goal, the first forcing Ince into a two-handed save on his line and the second whistling over the crossbar, and Dougie Freedman's cute cross with the outside of his boot brought an urgent punch from the Trinidad and Tobago international in the 20th minute. A matter of inches had prevented Beckford from applying the finishing touch with his head.
The striker worked diligently up front throughout an open contest, and the goal which might have come his way from Freedman's cross materialised nine minutes later, with half-an-hour on the clock.
Neil Kilkenny's through-ball sliced between Walsall's defenders, and Beckford shook off Anthony Gerrard before rounding Ince with a quick side-step. Gerrard attempted to cover Ince's goalline with a sliding block, but he succeeded only in carrying Beckford's shot into the net with his legs.
The goal was Beckford's 18th of the season but his first in open play since January, and the clinical manner in which he dispatched Kilkenny's pass was reminiscent of a striker who was without peers in the first half of the season.
His form has waned alongside that of his club in 2008 but he, like United, appeared more purposeful yesterday, just when McAllister needed his players to emerge from their shells.It was a satisfying experience on both sides of the whitewash.
But mindful of the way in which Leeds had contrived to limit themselves to a 3-3 draw at Port Vale seven days earlier, a single-goal advantage was less than their manager required.
Prutton, who was a dynamic presence in midfield from the first whistle, drew a full-length parry from Ince with a low shot three minutes before half-time, but Walsall's caution in comparison could at times have been described as negativity. The first half was the quietest that Ankergren has enjoyed for months.
Money had little choice but to ask his players to stretch themselves after the break, and their first shot on goal came in the 52nd minute when a free-kick from Lee Holmes dipped over Ankergren's bar.
It then took a woeful miss from Mooney, who thrashed a volley into the crowd from six yards out, to maintain United's lead on the hour, but the second goal was as likely to materialise at Ince's end of the field.
Jonathan Howson's free-kick forced the keeper to tip the ball to safety, and Bradley Johnson's header was parried on the line as Walsall's defence began to creak.
It gave way for a second time 10 minutes before the final whistle when, in a repeat of the opening goal, Kilkenny fed Beckford with an intelligent pass which the striker lifted deftly beyond the reach of Ince to ensure Leeds left nothing to chance. 22/3/08
UNITED 2 (Beckford 29, 80), WALSALL 0
United started the afternoon in 10th place in the league, five adrift of the Play-Off places, and two behind Walsall, and Jermaine Beckford was quick to threaten when he fired wide just three minutes into the contest.
Both sides had some early defending to do, but the opening quarter-hour offered little in the way of chances until Walsall goalkeeper saved well from David Prutton.
Prutton also fired over the top with an effort from outside the box on 17 minutes.
Walsall goalkeeper Ince also had to react well when Dougie Freedman showed good skill to bend a cross-cum-shot into the penalty area. Ince came off his line to punch clear.
United threatened again when Ince denied Beckford after Prutton threaded a ball through the Walsall defence.
But on 29 minutes, Leeds were in front. Neil Kilkenny was the architect with a lovely pass for Beckford, and the striker finished from a tight angle to clock up his 18th of the season.
Four minutes before half-time, Ince was called into action again when he beat away a powerful strike from the lively Prutton, and Leeds went in just one goal to the good at the interval.
United also started the second half brightly, and within 90 seconds of the re-start, Freedman forced Ince into making a good save.
Walsall had their first real opportunity on 53 minutes when Lee Holmes curled a free-kick narrowly wide. But Leeds responded immediately and Ince got down well to deny Freedman with a header from a Prutton cross.
But the visitors should have drawn level shortly before the hour. Holmes delivered an excellent cross from the left, and experienced striker Tommy Mooney blasted his first-time shot over the top from close range.
On 65 minutes Alan Sheehan tested Ince with a rasping 25-yard free-kick, the Walsall goalkeeper palming the strike over the top. And from the second of successive corners, Lubo Michalik hooked a shot over the bar.
Leeds were again tightening their grip on the game and Kilkenny was next to try his luck with a shot from distance. Walsall substitute Mark Bradley was also called upon to clear a Bradley Johnson header off the line.
And with 10 minutes to go United were rewarded for their best performance under McAllister. Kilkenny and Beckford combined again and the striker made no mistake with a great finish to make it 2-0.
With victory all-but sealed, McAllister took the opportunity to hand Jonathan Douglas the final eight minutes. Douglas was returning from a knee injury, sustained against the same opponents back in December.
In the final moments Howson fired over, but it mattered little as United collected a valuable three points.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

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Matches – 28 April 1969 – Liverpool 0 Leeds United 0

It had been eight years in the making but finally championship glory was awaiting United ... a point at Anfield, home of second placed Liverpol would be enough to secure a first championship

Yorkshire Evening Post 15/3/08
Rodgers rides in to thwart Leeds United
By Phil Hay
Port Vale 3 Leeds United 3
LUKE Rodgers' goal in the third minute of injury-time stole a priceless victory from Leeds United's grasp and strengthened Gary McAllister's belief that his club's sprint towards the play-offs will end in a photo finish.
Rodgers scored with the final kick of a fickle game at Vale Park which offered hope to Leeds with four minutes remaining but snatched it away when the points seemed to have been won.A strike from Dougie Freedman – his second of the game – re-established United's advantage in the 86th minute after the visitors had allowed a 2-0 lead to evaporate but, with the points on their plate, Rodgers' intervention brought a frustrating end to a week which promised more than it delivered.
McAllister had hoped to emerge "unscathed" from successive matches at home to Bournemouth and Cheltenham and yesterday's visit to Port Vale which, in layman's terms, meant finishing with nine points in his pocket.
After the late scramble which forced a draw yesterday United had gathered only four, and the haul has done little to improve their league standing which has suffered badly since Christmas.
United left Vale Park with frustrations about their inability to defend either a 2-0 lead or a 3-2 advantage, but beyond the inadequacies that forced them to accept a point against League One's bottom club, Leeds also had legitimate complaints about the performance of the match referee, Clive Penton.
Penton, from Sussex, had undeniable influence in awarding Vale a penalty and refusing to do United the same favour.
The claim from Leeds in the 39th minute seemed clear cut after Joe Anyon crashed into the legs of Dougie Freedman inside the box. Anyon might also have been dismissed.Vale's spot-kick – the catalyst for their fightback from 2-0 down – was awarded with the assistance of a linesman after a header from Marc Richards struck Andrew Hughes. Replays showed clearly that the ball hit Hughes' face.
United's sense of injustice of was tangible, Hughes was booked for his protestations, but McAllister tempered his criticism of Penton with the admission that Leeds should have won regardless.
After beating Bournemouth and losing to Cheltenham it is difficult to predict how damaging the week just gone will prove to be, but United remain outside the play-off positions and cannot expect to be assured of a top-six finish before the final throes of the campaign.
The dismal standard of United's performance against Cheltenham forced McAllister to rethink his strategy and Tresor Kandol and Frazer Richardson were inevitable casualties of Tuesday night's fractious debacle.
McAllister sensibly withdrew both players from the firing line after witnessing the harsh treatment of them by the Elland Road crowd in midweek, and the inclusion of Freedman and Hughes gave his line-up a more experienced spine. 15/3/08
Gary McAllister was demanding a response from his players after the midweek defeat at the hands of Chelteham - and he responded by making two changes to his starting line-up.
Andrew Hughes came back into the starting line-up, replacing Frazer Richardson at left-back, and Dougie Freedman was handed a first start with Tresor Kandol dropping to the bench.
United were backed by a vast following - the Leeds fans comprising almost half of the crowd inside of Vale Park - but it was the visitors who had the first opportunity when Casper Ankergren raced off his line to deny Luke Rodgers in the fourth minute.
It was the massed ranks of Leeds fans who were almost celebrating moments later when Vale goalkeeper Joe Anyon had to be alert to tip over a delightful chip from Freedman, following a good ball from Neil Kilkenny.
Stranded at the foot of the table and seemingly certain for relegation, the home side were able to play without fear, but it was United, moving the ball quickly with a more direct approach, who were denied by a succession of offside flags during the opening 20 minutes.
Freedman made a lively start to his full debut and his determination to make an impact was emphasised on 22 minutes when he charged down a clearance from Port Vale goalkeeper Anyon to force a throw-in.
When Vale threatened, Paul Edwards went on a weaving run, but fired wide when confronted by an advancing Ankergren. United responded with a quick break and Kilkenny fired over the bar after some intelligent play from Jermaine Beckford.
On 38 minutes, Leeds had a great chance to take the lead. Freedman had a clear sight of goal after a Beckford flick-on, but as two Vale defenders closed in, the striker shot straight into the arms of Anyon.
Moments later, Leeds should have been awarded a penalty. Freedman appeared to be brought down by Anyon after knocking the ball past the Vale goalkeeper, but the calls fell on deaf ears and the referee awared a corner.
It mattered little, though. Bradley Johnson whipped in the resultant corner and Rui Marques was on hand to fire United into the lead with a clinical finish from inside the box.
Two minutes later, it was 2-0.
Kilkenny and Johnson were both involved before the ball broke to Freedman, who seized to slam the ball home for his first goal for the club.
The double strike was the perfect tonic for United and the fans celebrated well into the half-time break.
When the contest re-started, there was a delay early in the second half as Vale's Paul Harsley received treatment following a collision with goalkeeper Anyon.
Anyon was called upon to make his first save of the half on 52 minutes when he spread himself well to deny Beckford after some good build-up play. David Prutton also tested Anyon after Jonny Howson picked him out with a terrific ball.
The 4,400 fans in the sparsely populated home areas had seen little in the way of encouragement - and shortly before the hour Vale boss Lee Sinnott made a double substitution in a bid to pep things up.
But they were given hope on 62 minutes when Hughes was adjudged to have handled a cross and the referee pointed to the spot.
The United skipper protested, claiming the ball had hit his head, but his pleas fell on deaf ears and Paul Harsley stepped up to convert the penalty. Video replays later confirmed the ball had hit Hughes in the face.
Almost immediately, Vale came forward again and Danny Whitaker went close to grabbing an equaliser when he curled a shot wide. Moments later, though, it was 2-2.
Whitaker arrived at the near post to convert a Perry cross and suddenly it was all square again.
United's response came courtesy of Howson, who put a shot over the bar after Beckford pulled the ball back. McAllister also responded by introducing Seb Carole in place of Kilkenny on 70 minuites.
With 12 minutes remaining, McAllister brought on Kandol in place of Johnson as he looked to firepower to find a winning goal.
As United came forward Marques had a header cleared off the line and Leeds had a penalty shout waved away after claims for a handball.
But with four minutes remaining Freedman got the goal United desperately needed. Carole sent over a free-kick from the left and the loan striker arrived at the far post to convert with a precise header.
That looked like game over, but Vale substitute David Mulligan shot straight at Ankergren as the fourth official indicated a minimum of four minutes stoppage time.
And it was in the third minute of that time added on that Vale bagged a dramatic equaliser when Rodgers tapped the ball home at the far post following another important contribution from Perry.
It was a hammer blow, following Freedman's late goal and was enough to ensure honours ended even.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

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Matches – 21 December 1968 – Leeds United 6 Burnley 1

Leeds United's professional pride had been stung badly by their hiding at Burnley and they were intent on revenge when the Turf Moor club visited Elland Road just before Christmas

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Monday, March 03, 2008

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Matches – 23 October 1968 – Leeds United 3 Standard Liege 2

It looked an easy enough task but Standard Liege gave United a real fright at Elland Road after a goalless draw in Belgium - with two minutes to go Leeds were on the way out

Sunday, March 02, 2008

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Matches – 19 October 1968 – Burnley 5 Leeds 1

They might have been leading the First Division table, but when United took on a youthful Burnley side they definitely had an afternoon to forget

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Saturday, March 01, 2008 1/3/08
United boss Gary McAllister welcomed Neil Kilkenny back to his midfield and Bradley Johnson returned to the left flank with Peter Sweeney missing out.
Worryingly, new loan signing Steve O'Halloran, who was named in the original starting line-up, limped out of the warm-up 20 minutes before kick-off, leaving the boss with a late dilemma. Fellow left-back Alan Sheehan, who wasn't named in the squad, emerged from the tunnel to join the warm-up.
That prompted a late change to the Leeds team with Frazer Richardson stepping into the starting line-up, and Sheehan being added to the subs bench.
It was an untidy opening to the contest - United kicked-off playing into the wind - and it was Swindon who had the first opportunity when Lee Peacock lashed a shot over the top. Jermaine Beckford also put one over the top from close range on 10 minutes after a David Prutton free-kick.
Swindon suffered an early injury blow themselves when centre-back Patrick Kanyuka limped out of the game on 17 minutes, Jerel Ifil coming on as his replacement.
When Leeds threatened again, Tresor Kandol had a shot deflected wide on 22 minutes, but much to the surprise of both sets of players, referee Chris Foy awarded a goal-kick. Moments later, Beckford picked up a yellow card, following a robust challenge after the striker was crowded out in the Swindon box.
Leeds were starting to look the better of the two sides and Kandol made it 1-0 with a terrific header in the 25th minute. Prutton produced a superb delivery and Kandol's header was perfectly placed to leave Swindon goalkeeper Phil Smith with no chance.
Prutton was again involved shortly after the half-hour when Johnson headed a cross narrowly wide after more good build-up play by United.
When Swindon threatened, Rui Marques made a good challenge to thwart the hosts. But, United had an escape on 39 minutes when Marques conceded a corner. Christian Roberts' delivery was allowed to find Simon Cox inside the six-yard box, but the Swindon man somehow headed over the top when it looked easier to score.
The referee added on two extra minutes at the end of the half, and on the stroke of half-time Kandol was denied by an offside flag after a delightful ball from Kilkenny.
Both sides traded early attacks at the start of the second period, and Lubo Michalik, making use of the wind, tried a cheeky downfield shot from a full 60 yards which almost caught Swindon keeper Smith napping.
At the other end, Billy Paynter headed wide after Leeds failed to clear and as play moved quickly Kandol appeared to have a decent penalty shout waved away when he tumbled under pressure from a Swindon defender.
As the game moved into the final half-hour, United were having some defending to do as Swindon looked to force a way back into the game. Darren Kenton, Kandol, and Michalik all made timely clearances.
But when United came forward, Beckford almost got on the end of a neat ball threaded through by Jonny Howson. And on 70 minutes, Smith prevented Prutton from making it 2-0 when he tipped away an inswinging corner underneath his own bar.
Ankergren performed a similar rescue mission at the other end when he saved well to deny Roberts an equaliser.
With 11 minutes remaining, McAllister introduced Thompson in place of Kilkenny.
And it was United who were next to go close on 81 minutes when Howson tried his luck from the edge of the box with a shot that beat Smith but flew inches over.
Three minutes of stoppage time were added on at the end of the contest, but there were no further dramas and McAllister was able to celebrate a first win as United manager.Daily Mail 29/2/08
We've agreed to '15-point' arbitration under duress, reveals Leeds chairman Bates
Leeds chairman Ken Bates has revealed the club have agreed "under duress" to the Football League's offer of a private arbitration hearing into their 15-point deduction.
The league's governing body made the offer earlier this week giving Leeds a chance to challenge the 15-point penalty that was imposed on the Whites in August for breaching insolvency rules.
The arbitration panel will consist of one club representative, one Football League representative and an impartial party but Bates revealed Leeds had reluctantly accepted the offer to hold the trial in private.
"We have agreed, under duress, to arbitration in private but what have they got to hide?" Bates said.
"We believe this should be conducted in the open because people have a right to know. This is supposed to be about transparency. "But we won't be dragging out heels - the League have delayed things over six months, and we want the matter resolved as quickly as possible."

Yorkshire Post 27/2/08
Exclusive: League make deadline-day offer to Leeds
By Richard Sutcliffe
LEEDS United's quest to overturn their 15-point deficit took a stunning twist last night when the Football League invited the club to arbitration.
The Yorkshire Post can exclusively reveal that solicitors acting on behalf of the League made the offer on the day their deadline to respond to a High Court writ elapsed.
If Leeds agree to the proposal, a date will be set for a three-man panel to meet and hear arguments from both parties.
The panel would consist of a neutral Court of Appeal judge plus one representative apiece nominated by United and the League.
With the League One season having just over two months remaining, the earliest date possible would suit all concerned.
The League are making no comment on the legal action, but chairman Lord Mawhinney promised last week, in a letter circulated to all member clubs, to fight the writ "robustly".
Speaking to the Yorkshire Post from Monaco last night, United chairman Ken Bates said: "The letter arrived from the League's solicitors in the morning suggesting that this should go to arbitration with a Court of Appeal judge.
"To quote their words, 'impartiality and independence will be guaranteed and the competence of the tribunal will be par excellence'. Impartiality and independence is what we have been arguing for all along."
Asked whether the club will accept the offer of arbitration, Bates replied: "We only got the letter a couple of hours ago so we will have to discuss what our next move is.
"But, clearly, this matter has to be resolved sooner rather than later or they will have to print two league tables – one with minus 15 and one without.
"What makes me laugh is that it has taken six months to get to this position, six months in which the League have refused to discuss the matter with us.
"Only now, with the writ having been issued, do they instruct their lawyers to come back to us.
"Not only that, it is actually three weeks since we served the writ. Under the law, the League had a week to say they had got it and then another two weeks to respond. And they choose the 21st day to respond.
"The delay has helped no one. It will be interesting to see Lord Mawhinney being cross examined.
"It is a long overdue development and the pleasing thing from our point of view is that a Court of Appeal judge will hear it. After a Law Lord, they are the highest in the land.
"The decision to deduct us 15 points was purely one born of self-interest on behalf of the other clubs."
Leeds, who were relegated after being deducted 10 points in May for going into administration, were hit with the further 15-point penalty in August for what the League board considered to be a failure to follow insolvency policy.
At a subsequent meeting of the other 71 member clubs, the decision was upheld with only five clubs backing United's call not to be punished at all and 64 voting against. It is understood Leicester chairman Milan Mandaric missed the vote due to being late, while Bury did not send a representative to the meeting in London.
The Elland Road club have argued all along that this was unfair with self-interest clouding the voting, especially among all their League One rivals.
Some chairmen such as Bradford City's Julian Rhodes have publicly backed United's fight and Bates believes this, together with 20,000 names having been added to an on-line Downing Street petition since Friday, is a sign that public opinion is starting to change.
The Leeds chairman said: "There will always be those who say 'b****r Leeds, it is their problem'.
"But I believe there are many more who believe this is not a football issue, but one about justice and fairness."Bradford are serious rivals to ourselves and next door neighbours, but they have still shown their support.
"The support is very encouraging. People are beginning to realise that this isn't about Leeds United and that 'it could be us next'. Luton and Bournemouth are already in administration and Rotherham are suggesting they could go into administration."