Friday, October 31, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 29/10/08

Whites suffer travel sickness

Southend United 1 Leeds United 0
Leeds United's players are not prone to passing the buck, but as their captain confessed last night, the club's current predicament is one he is at a loss to explain.

No sooner did Leeds uncover a remedy for what was a definite weakness in results at home than their squad have been struck by a bout of travel sickness which is far from terminal but which has become acute.

United's league defeat in Southend last night was their third of the season away from home and the players who were present at Elland Road before this summer do not need telling that the figure is two short of the total sustained by Leeds in League One matches over the entire 2007-08 term.

Several impressive statistics were created during United's fight against their 15-point deduction, but special though last season was, Gary McAllister's intention would have been to match as closely as possible the final total of points achieved. 

It is safe to assume that he would not have budgeted for three away losses by the end of October, all arriving back-to-back.

That figure has materialised without an obvious explanation. United were deservedly beaten by both Peterborough United and Millwall and Southend were worth their victory last night after an end-to-end game which required only one goal to settle it. 

In the meantime, Leeds have won seven matches in succession in Yorkshire, all with the bristling confidence of a team who expect to take their leave of League One in 2009.

Leeds were not outclassed at Roots Hall – a stadium that has never yielded victory to the Elland Road club – but, in similar style to their games at London Road and the New Den, they were some distance below their best.

The issue facing McAllister is that goals, which arrive so regularly in home fixtures, are less frequent outside Elland Road.

Asked afterwards why United's results had dropped away suddenly, captain Frazer Richardson struggled to find a clear reason, admitting the trend was damaging and peculiar.

He and McAllister were equally honest about the low quality of United's attacking finesse and final ball and the failing was key at Roots Hall. 

They also agreed that the best solution would be a victory at Cheltenham this weekend, at another stadium where Leeds have never won.

Leeds, as a team, saw plenty of the ball last night but the same could not be said of their strikers and the breakdown of a link between midfield and attack, which has worked well this season, left United exposed to the quality of a team who do not often lose at home.

It seemed that Leeds might be assisted by the absence from Southend's line-up of Lee Barnard and Dougie Freedman, but the game was dictated by one of Steve Tilson's less renowned strikers, Francis Laurent, and settled by a full-back who United know well.

 

Freedman's intention had been to play against the club with whom he earned so much acclaim last season, but Tilson was unconvinced by the striker's fitness and left him out of his squad.

He took the same view with Barnard, whose hamstring strain failed to respond sufficiently over the weekend and the omission of Southend's two leading scorers should have played into McAllister's hands.

The 34-year-old Freedman was a strong influence during United's run to the play-off final in May and more immediately pertinent were the four goals he had scored in as many league games since his free transfer from Crystal Palace to Roots Hall.

Without Freedman and Barnard – the player whose goal inflicted United’s defeat at Southend last season – Tilson’s armoury looked more shallow on paper than it might have been.

But Southend’s port in the storm of injuries was Laurent, a forward who had previously operated as a substitute to good effect and the Frenchman’s promotion to the starting line-up for the first time was a masterstroke from Tilson.

Laurent ran riot for the first half-hour and played a crucial role in the opening goal, scored by another of United’s former players, Dan Harding.

Harding’s sweetly-struck free-kick after 18 minutes was the least Southend deserved for a first half performance which outshone the work done by McAllister’s players.

Laurent’s display was influential and powerful, his long legs contributing to an awkward style of play which United’s centre-backs found difficult to read and even harder to negate.

Leeds did not give Southend the same level of concern until the 32nd minute when Jonathan Douglas pulled their first chance narrowly wide of Adam Federici’s goal.

United were already trailing by then, their deficit the result of a sustained period of pressure which Southend applied effectively and which Leeds failed to repel.

Laurent’s legs were clipped by Paul Telfer as the forward spun away from the Scot and broke into Casper Ankergren’s box and a free-kick awarded on the edge of the area was flighted accurately by Harding into the far corner of United’s net.

The threat to Ankergren had grown steadily before Harding’s goal, occasionally invited by the keeper himself.

His fumble in the seventh minute presented a chance to Adam Barrett which the defender could not drive through the mass of players in United’s box, but Ankergren redeemed himself with a splendid save from Alex Revell, parrying the midfielder’s long- range effort to safety with his fingertips.

Another excellent block from Laurent was no less important, arriving two minutes after Harding’s goal, though Leeds were more indebted to Hal Robson-Kanu’s woeful shot on the rebound which carried high over an empty goal.

Teased

The problems caused by Laurent’s performance were aptly demonstrated when his turn away from Lubomir Michalik teased the Slovakian into a cynical foul and a yellow card and Michalik was somewhat fortunate in first half injury-time when he appeared to pull Laurent to the ground inside Ankergren’s area.

Referee Pat Miller gave no heed to Southend’s appeals, though the general opinion was that the match official had ignored a probable penalty and a challenge which might have led to Michalik’s dismissal.

The one source of optimism for McAllister was United’s noticeable improvement after Harding’s goal, in a short period before half-time, when Southend’s composure seemed to erode.

Douglas’ chance on 33 minutes was as inviting an opening as Leeds found and a 20-yard shot from Fabian Delph was met with a brilliant two-handed parry by Federici. 

Jermaine Beckford might also have scored with a header from Richardson’s cross in added time but the chances were too few and sporadic for United to begrudge Southend their lead after 45 minutes.

The second half started with a flurry at either end as Federici’s tremendous save flicked a low shot from Neil Kilkenny over the bar and another free-kick from Harding brought a two-handed parry from Ankergren, but the opportunities soon subsided even though the pace of the game did not.

Andy Robinson and Robert Snodgrass were summoned from the bench by McAllister with 23 minutes to play, but their inclusion did not sharpen United’s edge and in between the visitors’ substantial periods of possession, Revell should have increased Southend’s lead.

Leeds made a change to their usual schedule, staying in Southend overnight to maximise their recovery before Saturday’s visit to Whaddon Road. 

Their road this morning led back to Yorkshire and back to the drawing board, in search of a formula that will crack Cheltenham and plug the leak in United’s season.

Leedsunited.com 28/10/08

SUNK AT SOUTHEND

 29 Oct 2008

Leeds slip to another away defeat...

SOUTHEND UNITED 1 (Harding 18)  LEEDS UNITED 0

Southend: Federici, Francis, Clarke, Barrett, Revell (McCormack 83), Robson-Kanu, Christophe, Betsy, Harding, Laurent (Scannell 75), Sawyer (Grant 80). Subs not used: Walker, Sankofa

United: Ankergren, Richardson, Michalik, Telfer, Parker, Kilkenny (Robinson 66), Douglas, Delph (Snodgrass 66), Howson, Beckford, Becchio. Subs not used: Lucas, Prutton, White

Referee: P. Miller

Att: 10,132  (1,988 Leeds)

 

United fielded an unchanged side after Saturday's 3-0 win against Walsall in the hope of making it three wins in a row, with Luciano Becchio looking to find the net for the 5th game in succession.

Dougie Freedman failed to recover in time to take his place in the Southend side against his former teammates and Lee Barnard also missed out which was a further blow to the home side. Former Leeds player Dan Harding took his place in the side at left back.

 

Leeds started the brighter of the two sides attacking the goal at the opposite end from the Leeds fans, who were in good voice early on, and forced the game's first corner inside a couple of minutes. Douglas had a chance after 5 minutes, but dragged his shot just wide of the right hand post from 20 yards.

Southend started to come into the game after 10 minutes and Francis Laurent, making his first start for the club, forced Casper Ankergren into two good saves, the first when he cut in from the lett and bent a right foot shot that Ankergren had to stretch to his left to push round the post.    

United fell behind in the 18th minute after good work again by Laurent forced a free kick on the right hand side of the box. Former Leeds player Dan Harding then stepped up to curl a superb left footed free kick into the top corner.

Southend continued to have the upper hand after the goal and should have made it 2-0  after Laurent again forced a good save from Casper Ankergren who palmed the ball into the path of Kanu, who then blasted over with the goal at his mercy.

After the opening half hour Leeds were fortunate to be only a goal down after concerted pressure from Southend resulted in numerous balls flashing across the Leeds goalmouth.

Leeds started to give their back four some respite as the midfield began to get a foothold in the game, which resulted in Howson forcing Federici into his first save of the game after 35 minutes. Good work by Killkenny on the edge of the Southend box as he beat his man and played Howson in on goal, be it a tight angle from the right side. Howson shot was straight at the Southend keeper.  

Jonathan Douglas then had Leeds best chance of the game as the ball was pulled back to him on the edge of the box but he could only hook his shot wide of post.

Fabian Delph then forced Federici into a great save as his superb 25 yard strike was tipped one handed round the left hand post.

After getting back into the game in the last 10 minutes of the half and creating a few chances, including a Beckford header that was just over the bar, Southend probably ended the stronger and could have had a penalty in the last minute of the half as Laurent, once again causing problems, turned Lubo Michalik in the box and appeared to be pulled down, only for referee Miller to wave the home side's cries away.

Half Time  Southend 1 Leeds 0

Similar to Saturday's game against Walsall, Leeds started the second half strongly with Luciano Becchio crossing from the left and Howson heading down for Kilkenny to strike a right footed volley from 10 yards that was excellently saved again by Federici, who pushed the ball over the bar.

In the opening 10 minutes of the second half, Leeds continued their bright start with good sharp passing without creating a clear cut chance. Then against the run of play, Harding forced a great save from Ankergren as he bent another free kick that was heading for the top corner before Casper's intervention.

In an ever increasing end to end start to the half, Alex Revell was sent clean through on goal only to clip his shot just wide of the post.

As the half grew older the game started to get scrappy and chances became few and far between and on 66 minutes Gary McAllister made a double substitution, replacing Kilkenny and Delph with Robinson and Snodgrass.

Robinson's impact was almost immediate as he found himself in a good position just inside the box, only for his strike to be deflected into the keepers arms.

With 10 minutes remaining Leeds really started to press and pressure the Southend goal, Snodgrass and Robinson combining well down the right wing, only for Snodgrass's floated cross to avoid everyone in the box. As Leeds continued to push, Southend still looked dangerous as they by passed the midfield and looked to get their frontmen in behind the Leeds defence.

Leeds struggled to create any clear chances in the remaining minutes even though they were now dominating possession and sank to their third straight league loss away from Elland Road. All in all it was a disappointing second half performance and Southend probably deserved their win.

Yorkshire Post 28/10/08

Hull City star in Leeds United link

By Richard Sutcliffe

DEAN WINDASS will consider joining Leeds United if his first team prospects at Hull City do not improve.


The 39-year-old striker, who was last week the subject of an enquiry from Bradford City, has been a frustrated spectator during City's storming start to life in the top flight. 

His action on the pitch in the Premier League has been restricted to just 31 minutes as a substitute against Wigan in August and on Monday he was part of a City fringe team that took on Leeds in a behind-closed-doors friendly at Thorp Arch. 

Windass has revealed he spoke to Gary McAllister both before and after the game and while 
it is in unclear what was discussed, Windass has confessed a move to Leeds would be attractive.

He said: "I am still desperate to play and I turned out in a friendly on Monday and scored a goal. One of those watching was Leeds manager Gary McAllister who I spoke to both before and after the game.

"I want to make it clear that my priority is still to get back in the Hull team, but if Phil Brown tells me I can go, Leeds would definitely be a club I'd consider joining.

"I have known Gary for a long time and respect him both as a footballer and for the job he is doing at Elland Road.

"Bradford also made an enquiry about me last week, but I think they couldn't afford to pay Hull's wages.

"So I am still here and still battling for my place which is what I have always said I will do until told otherwise."

Windass's contract at the KC Stadium runs until the end of the season.

BBC 28/10/08

Seagulls sign Johnson from Leeds

Brighton & Hove Albion have signed Leeds United midfielder Bradley Johnson on loan until 3 January 2009.

The 21-year-old is eligible to make his debut against Leicester on Tuesday.

Johnson joined Leeds in January from Northampton and featured in their play-off final defeat to Doncaster in May but has played just once this season.

Manager Micky Adams said: "We're delighted Bradley's agreed to join us and I am sure his arrival will improve the squad."

Yorkshire Post 25/10/08

Leeds United 3 Walsall 0: Fabian Delph double lights up Elland Road

GARY McAllister is under no pressure to sell Fabian Delph and for that Leeds United and their supporters should be hugely grateful.

How fortunate that Delph's confirmation as one of the game's brightest young midfield prospects should come during a season when the club's finances are much healthier than they were in those dark days when the club was teetering on the brink of extinction.

A procession of big names, including Academy products like Alan Smith, Harry Kewell and Jonathan Woodgate, left to help chip away at those massive debts and the club went into freefall.

Now, it seems, the only way is up as McAllister's mixture of old heads and young, vibrant starlets strut their stuff on the Elland Road stage in second place, just three points off the lead.

McAllister rightly refers to Delph as 'Fab' – a nickname that becomes more appropriate with every game the Bradford-born teenager plays. Not only did Delph delight his Leeds audience with two goals struck from distance with that cultured left foot; he also helped create the goal that saw Luciano Becchio become the first Leeds player since Mark Viduka to score in four successive matches.

Argentine Becchio continues to provide the perfect foil for Jermaine Beckford in a potent Leeds attack which chiselled away incessantly at Walsall's defence until it inevitably cracked.

Walsall manager Jimmy Mullen, who joined McAllister in acknowledging the quality of Delph's two goals, was right when he said his side created the two best chances of the first half, Casper Ankergren making an excellent save to deny Jabo Iberhe before Iberhe narrowly failed to connect with Richard Taundry's cross a few yards out from goal.

Ankergren was drafted in when David Lucas was taken ill on the morning of the game and the Dane's save came at a vital time before Leeds's patience was rewarded as Delph took centre stage.

Leedsunited.com 25/10/08

A FAB RESULT


Delph at the double in win against Walsall...

LEEDS UNITED 3 (Becchio 46, Delph 65, 87), WALSALL 0

United: Ankergren, Richardson, Michalik, Telfer, Parker, Kilkenny (Robinson 61), Douglas, Delph, Howson, Becchio (Snodgrass 82), Beckford. Subs: Prutton, Showunmi, White.

Walsall: Ince, Boertien, Roberts, Gerrard, Palmer, Nicholls (Zaaboub 73), Mattis, Taundry, Deeney (Reich 73), Ibhere, Ricketts. Subs: Bradley, Hughes, Gilmartin.

Referee: G Hegley

Att: 22,422


United boss Gary McAllister made one enforced change to his starting line-up with Casper Ankergren returning in place of the injured Dave Lucas.

After beating Leyton Orient in midweek, United started brightly against Walsall, and Jermaine Beckford lifted a shot over the top inside the opening five minutes.

Jonny Howson also tried his luck after 10 minutes with a shot which skidded just wide of the upright. When United threatened again, a Jonthan Douglas shot took a deflection off Luciano Becchio to allow Walsall goalkeeper Clayton Ince a routine collection.

Neil Kilkenny also came within a whisker of an early goal when he sent a right-footed drive from 25 yards inches wide.

It was a positive start and Fabian Delph showed good skill on the edge of the box to work himself an opening. Delph also had a shot blocked by Ince and Beckford's follow-up was wide of the mark.

United had some defending to do on the half-hour when Frazer Richardson thwarted the visitors with a timely clearance after some constructive build-up play.

he home side's next attack came after a Michael Ricketts shot was blocked. Jonny Howson was the architect, and after Anthony Gerrard halted Becchio, Kilkenny forced into a good save with another powerful shot.

United were the better side during the opening, but were restricted largely to shots from distance.

The breakthrough came just 50 seconds into the second half, though. The Walsall defence made a real hash of clearing a cross and the ball fell to Luciano Becchio who made no mistake in smashing the ball home from close range.

The goal sparked Walsall into showing more urgency and Troy Deeney won a corner when his shot was deflected wide following some good passing play.

On the hour mark, McAllister made his first substitution, and Andy Robinson's first involvement was to see a free-kick deflected over the top. Robinson took the resultant corner, and United had a good penalty appeal waved away after the ball hit Paul Boertien's hand on the goal-line.

Ironically, Robinson's third touch was to set up United's second goal of the afternoon, although Delph took the plaudits for a superb left-foot strike. Robinson pulled the ball back to Delph on the edge of the box and Delph hammered the ball into the top corner.

Delph almost added a third goal in the 79th minute when he seized again on the edge of the box and unleashed another powerful shot.

United were looking in firm control, but Walsall gave a reminder that they weren't giving up the ghost when Ricketts tried his luck with an effort from distance.

But the game was sealed in the 87th minute when Delph scored with another stunning strike, bending the ball beyond Ince from distance.

Yorkshire Evening Post 21/10/08
Whites victory quells doubters
Leeds United 2 Leyton Orient 1
Jermaine Beckford missed a penalty and a clean sheet was conspicuous by its absence but the scoreline at Elland Road last night was also the bottom line.
The complete story of Leeds United's victory over Leyton Orient was identical to the story of their season – not without flaws but satisfactory nonetheless – and it dulled the worried rumblings caused by their defeat at Millwall over the weekend.

On a soaking night in West Yorkshire against a club with genuine problems, Gary McAllister and his players could not have asked for more.
United's staff were well aware that searching questions were being asked of their squad after Saturday's game in London.

Most concerned a defence which was breached again last night, an important issue that McAllister would prefer to resolve as soon as possible, but others seemed to imply that losses to Millwall and Peterborough United in the past month cast doubt on Leeds' aspirations for automatic promotion.

McAllister and his players are entitled to feel insulted by that innuendo, but they also know that it exists.

Such is the attention on their club that every poor result is liable to incite a degree of disharmony and ammunition for the snipers, and while McAllister can stem that tide by requesting patience, consistency is his team's greatest weapon against cutting scepticism.

It is a measure of the expectation at Elland Road that McAllister could sense anxiety in the stadium last night, regardless of the fact that United's victory over Orient was their sixth in succession on home soil.

That statistic was overlooked after their game at Millwall, where Leeds were bullied into submission by a focused and physical team, and the tangible increase of pressure before yesterday's fixture was evidence of the elevated standards at Elland Road this season.

McAllister cannot claim that his side are perfect but, with seven wins from 12 league games, they are not so far off either.

On a different night, Leeds would have beaten Orient by a much greater margin, and Beckford's missed penalty was the tip of a personal iceberg, one which steadfastly refused to clear a way to goal for the unlucky striker.

But the cheap nature of the opening goal conceded by Leeds on 36 minutes left McAllister scratching his head, but United displayed backbone in a situation which might have become nasty.

The majority of supporters on the terraces last night understood that Leeds have made good progress this season.

Few, however, could have been expected to remain impassive in the face of a defeat to a club in Orient's lowly position. Orient's form was as far removed from Millwall's as it was possible to be – theirs carrying the scent of an impending flirt with relegation while their London colleagues mix inside the top six – and last night's attendance of 18,990, though respectable by League One's standards, was perhaps a product of a fixture which had a low-key look on paper.

The actual match proved compelling in parts, and its first act was Beckford's penalty which bore a striking resemblance to that missed by Tresor Kandol against the same club at Elland Road last season, albeit at the opposite end of the field.

Colin Webster penalised JJ Melligan for blocking a 10th-minute cross from left-back Ben Parker with his arm.

It was a decision that seemed at first to overlook the close proximity of the two players but which was ultimately supported by video replays.

Beckford lined up Glenn Morris, Orient's goalkeeper, but lost his footing as he reached the penalty spot, slicing the ball into the South Stand behind Morris goal.

Hidden in his dug-out, McAllister's reaction was indiscernible.
A goal from Beckford so early in the game would have played on Orient's fragile confidence.

But although United's penalty was the best chance for either side to draw blood in the opening half-hour, Leeds could not have claimed that bulk of the first half belonged to them.

The 2-1 advantage they held at the interval was down to a certain amount of jail-breaking.

The visitors found that, with players committed to their attacks, gaps in McAllister's defence were waiting to be exploited, and there were several occasions when a decisive final touch would have given Martin Ling's team the lead.

Melligan failed to connect with a cross from Aiden Palmer four yards from goal, a delivery which Parker failed to anticipate, and Paul Terry met an inviting rebound from an Orient corner with a wayward strike over the crossbar.

Without a defender near him, Terry's finish was a waste.

David Lucas dealt with far greater danger in the 29th minute when he spread himself in front of Dean Morgan and blocked a point-blank opportunity that had Elland Road holding its breath, but the fortunate escape was exactly that.

Seven minutes later, United's defence gave in to Orient's pressure.

Paul Telfer, who regained his place at centre-back after overcoming a groin strain, refused the chance to clear a bouncing ball into the crowd and saw Morgan snatch possession before dribbling away from Parker and curling a low shot around Lucas with beautiful accuracy.

Without a timely block from Frazer Richardson 60 seconds later, chesting away a Terry volley that would have given Lucas serious problems, Orient's lead might have doubled, but Leeds heeded the seriousness of their position.

The ricochet off Richardson ran out to Douglas, whose searching pass found Beckford in space on the right wing.

Becchio was first to the striker's cross and applied a touch with his chest which tempted Stephen Purches to stab the ball over his own keeper and into the net off the crossbar.

Orient's organisation suffered in those moments and it was the turn of their defence to go missing when Becchio scored United's second goal in first-half injury-time.

Jonathan Howson worked the ball to Richardson whose delivery was dispatched with a firm header from Becchio. Unmarked and unimpeded, his strike was a simple end to a half which had been far more complicated.

The second half had the potential to be comparatively comfortable, not least when Parker and Howson combined to lay on an early chance that Beckford volleyed spectacularly against the bar.

Beckford's night of almost comical frustration continued in the 49th minute when he side-footed a knockdown from Jonathan Douglas wide from a position where he seemed certain to score. Orient's goal would not bow to him, and Morris' brilliant save palmed another Beckford shot behind with 17 minutes to play.

A 90th-minute shot from the forward at the end of a lethal counter attack also struck the post but McAllister's leading scorer would not have traded a United victory for another notch on his own belt.

Orient substitute Ryan Jarvis rattled Leeds twice in the final 10 minutes, given a sight of Lucas by a ball-watching defence, but the demand of United was to address as a team the doubts raised by their defeat at Millwall.

The answer last night came loudly enough.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Leedsunited.com 18/10/08

BEATEN BY LIONS

United slip to defeat at hands of Millwall...

MILLWALL 3 (Martin 37, Harris 59, Harris 88), LEEDS 1 (Becchio 31)

Millwall: Forde, Craig, Robinson, Whitbread, Frampton, Abdou, Grabban (Dunne 90), Martin, Laird, Harris, Alexander. Subs: Edwards, Grimes, Moore, Noel-Williams.

United: Lucas, Richardson, Michalik, Marques, White, Kilkenny (Snodgrass 65), Douglas, Delph, Hughes (Showunmi 65), Becchio, Beckford. Subs: Ankergren, Prutton, Howson.

Referee: A Marriner

Booked: Alexander, Harris (Millwall), Kilkenny, Becchio (United).

Att: 13,041 (2,000 Leeds)

 

United boss Gary McAllister named an unchanged team for the third versus fourth clash at the Den while Millwall were without striker Tresor Kandol due to the terms of his loan deal from Leeds.

The hosts were backed by a typically partisan crowd, but the sell-out away following made plenty of noise during a tentative opening from both sides.

Two late challenges from Milwall's Jimmy Abdou - on Fabian Delph and Neil Kilkenny - went unpunished, but Kilkenny found himself in the referee's notebook inside 10 minutes for a hefty challenge of his own.

It was a feisty start, and the home crowd were shouting for a penalty in 14 minutes when David Martin, whose mazy run had accounted for Lubo Michalik, went down in the box under pressure fromFrazer Richardson. But referee Andre Marriner dismissed the claims.

The home side had started with a spring in their step and were looking lively, and the first effort on goal came on 22 minutes when Martin sent a shot skidding wide of the mark.

Leeds had defended stoutly throughout the opening half-hour, and the reward came in some style on 31 minutes when Luciano Becchio fired in the opening goal of the game.

It was a carefully carved out break, and Becchio showed great skill to work himself an opening before delivering a superb strike from distance to give United the lead.

That lead lasted just six minutes, though, with the home side responding quickly. Neil Harris linked up well with Martin down the Milwall left, and the youngster cut inside before delivering a good finish which left Dave Lucas with no chance.

Tempers flared at the start of the second half when Becchio found himself in the book after a clash with Andy Frampton that resulted in 20 players pushing and shoving.

But disaster struck for United after 59 minutes when Millwall took the lead. Harris was the scorer when he rose well to head home a cross after a Millwall corner wasn't cleared.

Leeds immediately fashioned an opening at the other end when Kilkenny turned a Richardson cross towards goal.

With 25 minutes remaining, McAllister made two changes with Robert Snodgrass and Enoch Showunmi adding to his attacking presence. It meant United were operating with a bold 4-2-4 formation when in possession.

But Showunmi was involved at the other end with a good defensive header, and Jonathan Douglasalso made a good block when Millwall threatened again.

On 79 minutes it was MIllwall's Paul Robinson who made a good block when Beckford went on the attack after a good cross from Snodgrass. Home goalkeeper David Forde also came racing off his line when Fabian Delph attempted to play in Showunmi.

When Millwall came again on 86 minutes, Lucas made a terrific block to deny Lewis Grabban despite calls for offside from the United back four.

United replied immediately and Showunmi had a shot deflected wide of the mark.

But it was Millwall who effectively sealed the game in the 88th minute, following a misunderstanding at the back. After Lucas reacted superbly to deny danger, following a misplaced pass, Harris converted with a neat finish to make it 3-1.

Leedsunited.com 16/10/08

WESTY RETURNS

 Midfielder returns from Cheltenham Town...

Ian Westlake has returned to Leeds United after the club were unable to agree terms with Cheltenham Town to extend his stay at Whaddon Road.

The midfielder spent four days training with Cheltenham and featured in Tuesday's reserve game against Swindon Town when he impressed manager Martin Allen.

But the two clubs were unable to agree a deal for the player to make a loan move and he will now return to Leeds.

Cheltenham boss Allen said: "Ian has done a terrific job in training and I'm grateful to Leeds United for allowing him to come here.

"He has shown a good attitude for the game. He's not at all big time and he is a very good player."

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Leedsunited.com 13/10/08
WESTY GOES WEST
United midfielder set to feature for Cheltenham Town...
United midfielder Ian Westlake has joined Cheltenham Town on a short-term trial basis.
The former Ipswich man is set to feature in Cheltenham's reserve side this week, and it could pave the way for him join the Whaddon Road club in a loan deal.
Westy hasn't figured in Gary McAllister's plans since his arrival as manager in January. His last outing in a Leeds shirt was in the 1-0 defeat at Southend in January when Gwyn Williams was in temporary charge of the team.
The 25-year-old spent the remaining weeks of last season on loan at Brighton and failed to figure in the senior squad at Elland Road during pre-season.
Gary Mac said: "I had a chat with Westy at the start of the season, and explained that I felt there were other players ahead of him.
"I'm pleased for him that he's got a chance now where, hopefully, he can play regular football."

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 12/10/08

We're the envy of football – Bates

By Phil Hay

Leeds United's reward for buying back their Thorp Arch training ground will be the continued production of young talent which is already the envy of most English clubs, according to chairman Ken Bates.

United are preparing to unveil a scheme which will give their supporters the opportunity to raise the money needed to repurchase their training complex near Wetherby, which was sold to private property developers in 2004 and is rented by Leeds at an annual cost of almost £500,000.

The Elland Road club have a 25-year lease on the facility, running until 2029, but a buy-back clause agreed when Thorp Arch was sold amid a backdrop of rising debts will expire next October, leaving Leeds with 12 months to secure the £6m required to regain ownership of the property.

The state-of-the-art complex has long been a crucial factor in United's attempts to secure major signings, but Thorp Arch also houses the club's academy and is witnessing another flood of players from the youth-team ranks to the first-team squad.

Aidan White and Fabian Delph have both completed that transition this season, following several others into United's senior pool, and the club's youth system remained largely unaffected while Leeds were fighting administration last summer.

Bates is hoping the supporter-investment scheme he has set in motion – the exact details of which will be revealed at a later date – will ensure that Leeds regain control of Thorp Arch and allow their academy to flourish in the future.

"Our academy is renowned throughout English football, and it's one of the most important parts of this club," said Bates.

"You've seen all the kids who are coming through and showing that they're good enough for the first team. That's because of the way we look after them. It's like a conveyor belt at the moment, and a lot of clubs look at that with a great deal of envy.

"If you work out the average age of guys like Fabian Delph, Aidan White and the others who've come through in the last couple of years, you get a figure around 18. We want the same to be happening in 10 years' time and 20 years' time, and that's why we need to make sure that the academy belongs to the club again.

"It's obviously a first-class training facility for the senior players as well, and the first thing we do with potential new signings is take them to Thorp Arch to let them see exactly what they'll be getting if they sign for us.

"That's where the squad work for most of the week, and it's a real magnet for players who are thinking about coming here."

United's training ground was built at great expense, and the club are still paying out heavily to fund the rent agreed when the complex was sold four years ago by the Leeds board fronted by ex-chairman Gerald Krasner.

The cost of the lease on Thorp Arch rises by three per cent every year, and the annual rent charged of United is currently around £485,000.

Krasner and his board agreed a buy-back option with Jacob Adler, the Manchester-based property developer who bought Thorp Arch in 2004, and the agreement is valued at 12 times the rate of the property's rent, leaving United facing a bill of around £6m to repurchase their training facility.

Unlike Elland Road, which was also sold in 2004 but has a lease and a buy-back agreement which run until 2029, Thorp Arch's repurchase clause expires in October 2009, and the investment scheme which Leeds are preparing to put to their fans is an ambitious attempt to raise the necessary seven-figure sum.

It is understood that supporters will be given the chance to buy units or shares in Thorp Arch with the promise that their investment will be refunded with interest at a future date.

Bates has asked two Leeds-based businessman to draw up a finance plan, and the scheme will be run independently of United's chairman in an attempt to guarantee its transparency and success.

Bates confirmed that a major financial institution would be asked to monitor the project and act as a trustee for the investment made by the club's fans.

The 76-year-old said: "This is something I'd been thinking about for a while and it moved on after I discussed it with a friend of mine who's also a Leeds fan and a major businessman.

"One of the first things he said was that any scheme needs to be run totally independently of me and the club, and I agree with him. Supporters who've got any reservations about me personally need to be able to see that this is for the benefit of the club and not Ken Bates. I won't have any control over it.

"These businessmen are putting the plans together and we'll have a major bank or financial institution behind it to make sure that everything it totally transparent, above board and successful."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Yorkshire Evening Post 11/10/08

Whites answer critics in style

Defeat is an expensive habit, and the question before kick-off at Elland Road yesterday was whether Leeds United had stumbled unwittingly into a losing trend.

Two minutes at the end of the first half against Brighton was all it took to settle that debate and return perspective to United's season.

Luciano Becchio whipped home a volley 60 seconds before Jermaine Beckford's flying header flew into the net with the help of the crossbar, crushing a bewildered Brighton team. After that flash of activity, Gary McAllister breathed easily again.

United's manager was never likely to allow panic to set in after a tight league defeat to Peterborough and a debacle of a performance in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy at Rotherham United, but the tepid performances which took Leeds into yesterday's game were not at all to his liking.

McAllister would have been required to looked back to March 2007 to find the last time a team from Elland Road lost three consecutive games, and United's manager knows that he above all other managers in League One is prone to criticism – both the fair variety and the irrational – when results falter.

Leeds held fourth place before Brighton's visit and climbed to third at full-time, and example of why an over-reaction to their recent results would have been as unnecessary as it was unhelpful.

United dominated most of the first half without causing Brighton great anxiety, but the goals which came in the two minutes before the interval were purely the result of the hosts' persistence and commitment to tactics.

If the confidence of McAllister's squad had been dented by back-to-back defeats, it did not show. 

Becchio's strike resulted from a scramble inside the box, but Beckford's came at the end of a gloriously flowing move from one end of the field to the other, an intimidating display of potent attacking from United's players.

Their concession of four goals at Rotherham on Wednesday evening had given McAllister cause for serious reflection, but the freedom to drastically change his defence was taken from him by an injury to Paul Telfer. The experienced centre-back – a central cog in the machine which mustered six straight wins last month – was ruled out before kick-off with a groin strain, giving Rui Marques and Lubomir Michalik a chance to write off their inept performance at Don Valley Stadium as a freak occurrence.

Marques in particular struggled desperately to cope with the height and movement of Rotherham's players but, with Paul Huntington also missing from yesterday's squad, McAllister's hands were tied in terms of his alternatives. Marques, to his credit, did him proud.

Elsewhere, McAllister had more scope to be ruthless. 

Andy Robinson was relegated to the bench – the most surprising aspect of United's squad – and Jonathan Howson paid for Wednesday's defeat with a similar demotion. 

Leeds' first task was to make an authoritative start and galvanise supporters who had been deflated by the back-to-back defeats.

Becchio's run into space on the right wing after five minutes ended with a swinging cross which the jumping Andrew Hughes missed by a matter of inches six yards from goal, and a delivery from Hughes was volleyed at Michel Kuipers by Beckford after good work by Frazer Richardson.

Becchio manufactured another opening in the 12th minute when he pinched possession from Matt Richards and produced a powerful low shot which Tommy Elphick blocked in front of Kuipers, and Dave Livermore – booked after 14 minutes for a sliding tackle on Jonathan Douglas – knocked a Hughes cross behind as Becchio ran in to finish off.

The bursts of creativity where a reassuring indication of Leeds' confidence, but the pressure on Brighton in the first half was not always relentless. 

A deflected shot from Joe Anyinsah on 28 minutes was their most memorable effort, but Micky Adams was rarely made to feel overly worried about his side's position until United scored twice in two minutes.

His mood might have changed earlier had Beckford's improvised volley from a chipped Marques' pass found its way inside Kuipers' right-hand post, rather than fading a foot wide, and a low shot from Richardson carried enough power to force Brighton's keeper to anxiously fumble the ball away from his goalline.

Another effort from Richardson – almost identical to his first – brought a one-handed parry from Kuipers, with Fabian Delph thrashing the rebound against the body of Steve Thomson, and a 60-second lull in proceedings while Douglas and Andrew Whing received treatment seemed to catastrophically dull Brighton's concentration.

Becchio started Albion's descent by volleying home at the second attempt after Hughes fed him inside the box, and Brighton were preparing mentally for the interval when Delph's wonderful injury-time cross in injury-time found a finish to match from Beckford, whose header went in off the underside of the bar. 

On the restart, Beckford soon rippled the side-netting with a fierce shot, and Marques' header from Neil Kilkenny's corner struck the underside of the bar.

The Angolan's attempt was as close as Leeds came to a third before the 90th minute, when Delph's flick gave Beckford the freedom to skip around Kuipers and slip a shot home. 

The scoreline was perfect until Glenn Murray claimed a injury-time consolation after a defensive lapse even McAllister couldn't seriously bemoan.


Yorkshire Post 11/10/08
Leeds United 3 Brighton 1: Becchio and Beckford on target
By Richard Sutcliffe
LEEDS United bounced back from two consecutive defeats to coast to victory against Brighton at Elland Road.
Jermaine Beckford's second goal of the game in the 89th minute capped an impressive display by United who had gone ahead in first half stoppage time courtesy of the League One top scorer and Lucciano Becchio.
It ensured it was an eventful afternoon for Beckford who was also booked after an altercation involving both sets of players that had been spearked by a horror challenge on man of the match Fabian Delph by Steve Thomson.

Brighton's late consolation came courtesy of Glenn Murphy deep into stoppage time.

Good approach play involving Frazer Richardson and Andrew Hughes created the opportunity for Argentinian Becchio who volleyed into the net after having his initial effort blocked by a defender on 45 minutes.

Then, just moments later, another fine move was rounded off by Beckford who headed past Michel Kuipers.

United made six changes to the starting line-up beaten in midweek by Rotherham United.

Alan Sheehan suffered a recurrence of a hamstring injury in the defeat at Rotherham on Tuesday night and is out.

Richardson, Beckford, Jonathan Douglas, Becchio, Fabian Delph and Aidan White all returned but one notable absentee in central defence was Paul Telfer with the veteran missing out due to a hamstring strain.

United made a good start to the game with Beckford volleying just wide, with Becchio clearing off the line at the other end.