Sunday, November 30, 2008
Histon humble Leeds in FA Cup second round
Blue Square Premier promotion chasers Histon today secured a famous FA Cup upset with a stunning 1-0 victory over Leeds United, and earn a home tie with Swansea City in today's draw for the third round.
Matthew Langston, a postman, scored the only goal of the game in the 39th minute at a wet and wild Glassworld Stadium when he headed in Gareth Gwillim's cross.
And Leeds paid the price for poor finishing against a non-league team 42 places below them, just seven years after reaching the Champions League semi-finals.
Histon dominated the first half in awful conditions and could have gone into the break further ahead, but they had to withstand a barrage of pressure in the second half.
Lubomir Michalik twice came within a whisker of equalising for Leeds, first seeing his shot cannon back off a post then a fierce drive headed off the line by Jack Midson late on.
"It was a magnificent rearguard action in the second half," Steve Fallon, the Histon manager, said. "We had a bit of luck when we needed it but we were magnificent.
"We deserved that victory. This will do this club the world of good."
Despite not getting a dream tie with Premier League opposition, Fallon said he regarded the draw with Swansea as a good opportunity to progress in the competition.
"It's a good draw for us," he said. "Obviously, we wanted to be at home; that's all you want. You could have the big boys but Swansea are a big side in their own right.
"It's a good little tie for us and I'm sure we'll have a full house again and maybe a chance of getting to the fourth round.
Saturday, November 29, 2008
26 Nov 2008
Leeds United announce accounts show profit of...
The directors of Leeds United Football Club Limited are pleased to be able to confirm that the audited accounts for the 14-month period to the 30th June 2008 show a profit of £4,553,000.
During the period the club made an operating profit before player trading of £902,000 from a turnover of £23,249,000.
On the field the club are seeking to gain promotion to the Championship at the earliest possible opportunity and to continue strengthening the club's Academy.
Off the field, the directors have identified that the re-purchase of both the Thorp Arch Training Facility and Elland Road as a priority within the next 12 months.
We are also seeking to gain planning consent for the development of the East Stand of the stadium to both increase income generated by the club on non-matchdays and improve matchday facilities for fans.
We would like to thank the club staff and fans for their support.
McAllister tells Leeds to battle
Leeds United manager Gary McAllister has called on his side to toughen up after their 2-1 defeat at Northampton.
The result saw Leeds slip outside the League One play-off places and McAllister told BBC Radio Leeds: "We've got to be up for these battles.
"When we're going away to grounds - I don't watch Northampton week-in week-out, but the effort used by them, is that the same every week here?
"If it was, they'd maybe be up in the similar position as us in the league."
The defeat came just eight days after Leeds won 5-2 at Sixfields in the FA Cup, and McAllister's prediction that Tuesday's League One clash would be a different affair proved prophetic.
"We knew it would be different from the cup tie," he said.
"They made it very difficult, they got in our faces and in the first half we never got going at all.
"In the second half we responded well and got on the front foot, but two bad goals again.
"We go in at half-time and I'm looking for a response again and I did get that - it was like night and day.
"I'm not looking for excuses for the first half but Northampton came and pressed and pressed and we were a little bit naive I felt - still trying to play too many passes when it might have been a night for knocking it a little bit longer.
"Second half we did knock it a little bit longer and got up behind it and looked a better team."
Jermaine Beckford's second-half equaliser was his sixth goal in just three games, but United's top scorer had to be withdrawn 10 minutes from the end.
"He's got a hamstring so we need to wait to see the degree of the problem," McAllister said.
But should Beckford be sidelined, McAllister said he would not rush into the loan market, which closes on Thursday.
"There's no point in bringing people in that aren't going to better the side - if there's somebody that can come in and make us better then we're going to be there trying to act.
"I don't think there's any need to panic and make massive changes - the crux and the ethos is going to stay the same and the 20 players have bought into that."
Yorkshire Evening Post 26/11/08
Cobblers gain quick revenge
By Phil Hay
Northampton 2 Leeds United 1
It was, as Gary McAllister predicted, a different game at Sixfields last night.
Victors by a healthy margin on the same pitch two games ago, Leeds United were not reckless enough to think that they would be allowed to take liberties with Northampton Town twice in the space of a week, but their unassuming attitude could not prevent the result which came at their expense last night.
The feeling among Northampton's staff that a second home game against Leeds could not possibly prove more humiliating or dissatisfying than their first was justified by a 2-1 victory that displayed the will to win they had lacked eight days previously.
Stuart Gray's team were cut down in last week's FA Cup first round tie by a hat-trick from Jermaine Beckford and their own lack of authority, losing 5-2 in front of a live television audience, but they tackled yesterday's game with more authority and refused to allow Beckford – or any of United's players, for that matter – to decide the outcome.
That honour was left to Nicholas Bignall, Northampton's on-loan striker who won the game with his first senior goal three minutes from time.
The odds were piled in Leeds' favour after their heavy defeat of Hartlepool United on Saturday, but United allowed Gray's team to edge ahead before the interval last night during their least convincing half of football for some time.
Liam Davis' opening goal was a splendid finish from 20 yards but it was not a strike from nothing, more the cumulative effect of one of the rare periods of League One football in which Leeds have been thoroughly dominated this season.
A midfield that, on its day, has had the measure of better teams than Northampton, saw their time on the ball limited and watched Gray's players control the flow of the game in a way which had seemed unlikely after United's excellent win at Sixfields nine days ago. The inevitable effect for 45 minutes was a complete lack of service to a set of forwards who had hit a purple patch before yesterday's game.
The improvement from Leeds after an inexplicably poor first half was unmistakable and deserving of praise, but Northampton had a goal to defend by the start of the second period and were under no obligation to show risky ambition.
United hit the post before the break and the crossbar after it, and Beckford's strike on 69 minutes placed a victory within their grasp, but McAllister will rue the time taken by his team to find a way into the match as greatly as he rues Bignall's basic winner. United's defending was again required to take its share of the blame for that goal.
Gray had hinted that he would counter the ability of Beckford with a man marker, but he did not follow through with the threat, leaving his defenders to share the responsibility of sticking to the striker like glue.
The task was carried out to good effect for over an hour, but was ultimately shown to be fallible.Included in their back four was the experienced figure of Andy Todd, signed by Gray on an emergency loan from Derby County, and the sense that last night's fixture would be more competitive than the most recent game between the clubs was borne out by the early skirmishes.Northampton's creativity was apparent from the fourth minute when Scott McGleish headed a flighted cross wide from six yards out, and there was more sting in the shot from Ryan Gilligan which clipped the frame of Leeds' goal five minutes later. David Lucas, United's goalkeeper, would not have reached the long-range effort had it curled inside his right-hand post.The energetic style of the hosts' marking and pressing contrasted with the ill-advised manner in which they stood off United's players during their FA Cup tie.
That they held the lead after 45 minutes was hardly a surprise after a half in which Leeds continually danced to their tune and played at the pace set by their hosts.
The opening goal came from the right boot of Davis, a screaming finish on the volley that beat Lucas' full-stretch dive on 28 minutes but which McAllister might have expected his defence to prevent.
The midfielder lost his balance as a cross from Gilligan rolled across the field from the right wing, but Davis regained his footing before Andrew Hughes could reach the ball, controlling it and dispatching it beyond Lucas with speed and precision.
United's performance before the goal had lacked the inspiration and ingenuity they had shown at Sixfields in the FA Cup, and Northampton were worth no less than their narrow lead.
Gray's defence lost Beckford momentarily in the 31st minute, calling on their keeper Frank Fielding to palm away a lovely curling strike from the forward.
But the examination of Fielding – a player whose previous two performances against Leeds had been more than a little eccentric – was disappointingly tame until the 10-minute spell before the break.
Beckford tested Fielding again when he reacted first to a loose ball inside Northampton's box and drove it against the keeper's legs, and he crashed another shot against the foot of a post after Kyle Walker misjudged Andy Robinson's high cross and let it drop over this head. It was through their leading scorer that Leeds looked most likely to reply.
Less pleasing was the foul committed by Fabian Delph on Luke Guttridge which incurred the midfielder's fifth booking of the season and an automatic one-match suspension, and the break was of far more use to McAllister than it was to his counterpart. Gray's team who left the pitch to a standing ovation.
The patting of backs was soon halted, however, as Robinson forced Fielding into two goalline parries after the break and then crossed to Becchio who drilled a sliding effort against the underside of the bar.
Fielding was as helpless at that moment as Lucas had been when his own goal was rattled in the first half.
By that fine margin, Northampton were allowed to retain their lead, though they succumbed to the temptation to defend increasingly deeply, perhaps through tension but also because of United's lingering and threatening presence inside their half. The pressure told in controversial fashion after 69 minutes.
Becchio and Jason Crowe contested a high ball 30 yards from goal and Northampton's defender crumpled to the ground under the challenge, but in the absence of any decision from referee Chris Foy, United played the ball out to Robinson whose cross from the right wing took a small deflection and found Beckford waiting to dispatch a fierce header at the far post.
McAllister sensed a victory at hand but Beckford then left the field with a hamstring strain, removing United's most vibrant attacking player and lessening their hope of crafting a second goal.
With three minutes to play the opposite occurred when Bignall rose to head home a Danny Jackman corner in a perfect copy of the two strikes conceded by Leeds at Sixfields last week, unchallenged in the air inside the six-yard box.
Deja vu, at a much higher cost.
Sunday, November 23, 2008
Delph delivers for Leeds
Leeds 4 Hartlepool 1
Philip Dorward at Elland Road
'You're not famous any more,' is the most common chant sung by visiting supporters to Elland Road these days. It is a fair, if cruel, point, but it is also a brave punter who mocks the plight of Leeds, as Hartlepool found out. Gary McAllister's combative side showed that actions can speak louder than words.
Not that Leeds fans aren't capable of speaking for themselves. 'Fabian Delph, he's not for sale,' is the song du jour among their supporters. But wily Leeds chairman Ken Bates has no plans for selling their latest prodigy - who scored a terrific goal in this game - to prying Premier League clubs.
The canny West Yorkshire side recently secured Delph, who made his England Under-21 debut on Tuesday and turned 19 on Friday, on a long-term contract until 2012.
There is a good chance that Delph will become famous sooner than his current club. That is not to say Leeds will not be famous again, but you know your stock in football is falling when the most high-profile mentions you get these days are from celebrities. Leeds were back in the news last week courtesy of an interview from Sir Alan Sugar at a charity event at Elland Road.
Showing an unenviable lack of knowledge of the Blue Square Premier League, the seemingly always bitter Sugar was claiming that Leeds should have been dumped from the Football League for going into administration. 'They should be thrown out, down to the fifth division, and have to work their way back up, playing on Hackney Marshes,' harrumphed the tennis-loving former Tottenham chairman.
Yet there is still ambition and support here and the club recently announced plans to turn Elland Road into a leisure and retail complex, while mini-buses from as far away as Plymouth and Shropshire are testament to the pull of the best backed club in the Football League.
In an enjoyable, attacking game, Leeds deservedly went in front on the quarter-hour when Jermaine Beckford redirected Andrew Hughes's whipped-in cross. But the team briefly put their fans through the traditional ringer when Hartlepool equalised courtesy of Joel Porter's well-taken 25th-minute volley.
But McAllister kept his nerve, even if 20,000 Leeds fans were questioning theirs. 'There was no panic. We tried to get the ball down and pass and create,' said the Leeds manager. 'We made their keeper work, which at times this season we haven't with the amount of possession we've had. But I think we got our just reward today.'
Leeds regained the lead in the 50th minute when Luciano Becchio broke through the Hartlepool midfield and laid the ball off for Delph. Showing his burgeoning talent, Delph took the ball on the run and adroitly not only made room for a shot but then placed the ball perfectly into the net.
After last week's home defeat by Huddersfield, there was palpable relief when the third goal came. Beckford flicked goalkeeper David Lucas's punt over his shoulder into the path of the onrushing Becchio and he made no mistake, slamming the ball home.
Beckford's second goal, in the final minute, wrapped up a victory that wasn't exactly famous but was another important one on the way back up.
Saturday, November 22, 2008
Jermaine gives the Cobblers the boot!
By Phil Hay
Northampton Town 2 Leeds United 5
Gary McAllister's least desirable scenario at Sixfields was a third defeat in succession for Leeds United.
Close behind in his list of unwanted possibilities was an FA Cup first-round replay which dragged his tired squad through extra-time. Neither eventuality came to pass and no-one inside Northampton Town's stadium can have been happier to see last night's tie settled in United's favour by half-time.
The club's 5-2 win over Northampton was their first victory in an FA Cup game for five seasons, but the priority for Leeds at Sixfields was not the improvement of slightly embarrassing history. After a League One defeat to Huddersfield Town on Saturday, the brief last night was to come safely through the tie and to do so with the minimum of fuss.
Rarely has McAllister, in his guise as United's manager, looked as angry as he did after Huddersfield's victory at Elland Road but the outcome of their swift turnaround to Northampton – a fixture which, in truth, was more than a little unwelcome two days after a West Yorkshire derby – lifted that exasperated expression.
Leeds emerged from their attacking shell and scored four goals before the interval and Jermaine Beckford, the club's leading striker, did likewise by scoring for the first time since October 11.
By the final whistle, Beckford had recorded his second hat-trick of the season and improved his personal tally of goals to 16, and Leeds were assured of a visit to non-league Histon in round two of the FA Cup, a televised tie which will reward United with an £80,000 broadcast fee.
Leeds agreed to an untimely Monday night game at Sixfields on the basis that Irish broadcaster Setanta would screen the replay live and pay almost £40,000 for the privilege, and the financial gamble paid off handsomely.
Aside from the excellent result, McAllister now has the benefit of an extra day to work with and recuperate his squad before Saturday's league game against Hartlepool United at Elland Road. If he feels hyper-critical, he might only remind Leeds' players of the list of chances Northampton were able to create but incapable of finishing last night.
He delivered on his promise of changes at Sixfields and made a total of six to his team, the most intriguing of which was the starting place given to Malcolm Christie.
Leeds have been working towards a contractual agreement with the striker for the past fortnight and confirmation of his registration for yesterday's tie was not entirely unexpected.
Previous questions about Christie were repeatedly met with positive noises from McAllister, but there was never an indication that his debut might come so suddenly.
His last competitive appearance was made in April of last year, towards the end of a contract at Middlesbrough which promised much but ultimately fell victim to Christie's merciless list of injuries, and his involvement against the Cobblers was the welcome end of 18 months spent waiting for a fresh start.
Furthermore, it lessened the strain on a squad that, while bigger than any other in League One, was beset by slight fatigue during Saturday's West Yorkshire derby. Fabian Delph took up a position on the bench – a rest which should allow him to debut for England's Under-21s this evening – and Luciano Becchio did the same, breaking the Argentinian's draining sequence of nine consecutive starts in five weeks.
Becchio's recent reliability in front of goal had lifted a degree of pressure from Beckford who before yesterday had not scored for seven matches, but the one certainty about Beckford was that his drought would not last. It was broken after 13 minutes at Sixfields and positively shattered by full-time. The architect of his and United's first goal was Town defender Liam Dolman who let a soaring clearance bounce on the edge of his box, and David Prutton's glancing header set up Beckford to bring the ball under control and cushion a shot past Frank Fielding.
His deft touch and composed finish was the one moment of quality in an otherwise forgettable opening, a spell dictated to some extent by a wet and heavy pitch, and David Lucas' one-handed save from Liam Davis was a rare flicker of drama before Beckford's goal.
But the early lead had the desired effect for McAllister, settling his players and drawing Northampton out earlier and in greater numbers than they might have planned, and the pace of Beckford on the counter-attack was immediately apparent.
United's advantage was threatened twice in the space of a minute.First Gary Holt shot wide of Lucas' goal from an excellent position – his chance presented to him by Lubomir Michalik's indecision under a free-kick from Davis – and then Luke Guttridge dipped a shot from 25 yards over the crossbar.
But Leeds strangled the game with a second goal before the half-hour.
Jonathan Howson's 28th-minute finish was reliant on a fortunate deflection off the boot of Mark Hughes which diverted the ball past a committed Fielding, but the football which preceded the midfielder's strike was deserving of a goal.Howson exchanged a quick one-two with Christie to leave Northampton's defence stationary and helpless, and Hughes' flailing foot did the rest. The towel was not thrown in immediately by Northampton, but it came before half-time.
Scott McGleish headed a reasonable chance wide amid ponderous marking and Guttridge's deflected free-kick was brilliantly saved by Lucas on his goalline, but Northampton made a mess of clearing a 41st-minute corner and watched as Ben Parker drilled home a shot from outside the box and claimed a memorable first goal for Leeds.
The cushion fashioned by McAllister's players was more comfortable than he could have envisaged, but a needless concession in the final minute of the half briefly made Northampton's task less thankless than it had been.Guttridge's corner was glanced home by the unmarked Jason Crowe – not the first Northampton player to be left without an attendant inside United's box – but a frantic finish to the half saw Beckford cut in from the left wing and score a clinical second goal on the break, restoring calm to the away dug-out. The situation demanded that Town attack Leeds at every opportunity.
But that desperation made their defence vulnerable and Neil Kilkenny's beautifully weighted pass cut through their backline and invited Beckford to complete his hat-trick in the 55th minute with a shot to the right of Fielding.
It gave Leeds enough confidence to showboat through the rest of the game – until, that was, Crowe scored again on 90 minutes – and handed their supporters the assurance to taunt Northampton with chants of "you should have watched on Setanta."
It was a medium though which United's evening could not have appeared any better – or Northampton's any worse.
Yorkshire Post 18/11/08
Northampton Town 2 Leeds United 5: Beckford blasts Leeds into next round
By Richard Sutcliffe
THE chants about a May visit to Wembley may have been a tad optimistic but the sense of relief evident among the travelling Leeds United supporters last night was understandable as their FA Cup misery finally came to an end.
After nine unsuccessful attempts and a wait of almost six years, United finally progressed in the world's oldest competition courtesy of a five-goal demolition of Northampton Town and earned a second-round visit to non-League minnows Histon. Leeds – and hat-trick hero Jermaine Beckford, in particular – put the boot into the Cobblers in merciless fashion to seal a first FA Cup win since a fifth-round defeat of Crystal Palace in February 2003 under Terry Venables. A surprise last night was the inclusion of Malcolm Christie in the starting line-up. The 29-year-old striker has been without a club since being released by Middlesbrough in the summer of 2007 and a couple of unsuccessful trials at Hull City and Leeds, the latter brought to an abrupt end by a back injury.
However, after spending the past two months building his fitness and then impressing in a reserve team outing and two behind-closed doors friendlies, Christie had clearly done enough to persuade Gary McAllister to give him a chance.
He showed enough promise without doing anything spectacular to suggest the former England Under-21 international could have a role to play in the push for promotion from League One.
Beckford, meanwhile, notched a second hat-trick of the season after being restored to the side as one of six changes. He started the rout on 13 minutes after David Prutton had flicked a towering clearance from Lubomir Michalik into his path and he fired an unstoppable right-foot shot past Frank Fielding in the home goal.
After the disappointment of Saturday's last-gasp derby defeat to Huddersfield Town, it was just the fillip Leeds needed and they doubled their advantage in the 28th minute when Jonny Howson's shot was deflected past the Northampton goalkeeper by Mark Hughes. Four minutes before the break Fielding somehow allowed Ben Parker's shot from 35 yards to squirm under him on the line.
The highlight of Northampton's night followed when Jason Crowe met a left-wing corner sweetly to beat David Lucas in the 44th minute, but Beckford netted his second during stoppage time.Northampton's misery continued after the break with the outstanding Neil Kilkenny playing Beckford through on 55 minutes and the striker showed terrific composure to score his hat-trick goal.
Leeds, who were so in control that Fabian Delph was able to stay on the bench and, therefore, remain fresh for a potential England Under-21s debut at Bramall Lane tonight, did concede in the final minute when Crowe met another corner sweetly but it could not detract from a fine night for McAllister's men.
Daily Mail 17/11/08
Leeds chairman Bates mocks Chelsea youngsters and fires warning to Delph suitors
Leeds chairman Ken Bates has reopened his bitter war of words with former club Chelsea - and issued another defiant hands-off warning to the Barclays Premier League clubs coveting 18-year-old midfielder Fabian Delph.
Bates used his match programme notes at the weekend to mock the lack of progress of two young players lured from Elland Road to Stamford Bridge amid a furious poaching row in 2006.
Leeds eventually accepted £5million in compensation from Chelsea.
Bates, who was chairman at Stamford Bridge from 1982 to 2003, contrasted those players' fortunes with those of Delph, who is attracting rave reviews playing in the first team and has just received his first call up for the England Under 21 squad.
'Michael Woods and Tom Taiwo. Remember them?' asked Bates in Leeds' programme for the 2-1 home defeat to Huddersfield on Saturday. 'No? The names came back to me when we received a circular from a firm of football agents as follows: "Tom Taiwo - Chelsea central midfield/right-back. Former Leeds United. £2m. England youth international who had a spell at Port Vale this season".
Remember them now? Great players with outstanding potential. They were invited down to Chelsea with their parents. They visited the Chelsea training ground, stayed at a good hotel, watched Chelsea and then signed for the club. Haven't heard of them since until the above circular, offering Tom on loan, arrived at our door.
'The problem is that young players and their parents are sometimes seduced by short-term promises. It must be very tempting to see short-term gains and the glamour of moving to a so-called "big club". In reality the truth is very different. The kids disappear into the anonymity of the nether regions, rarely to be heard of again.
'Meanwhile, back at their origins, other youngsters are nurtured, encouraged and progress through the ranks. [Danny] Rose, Woods and Taiwo versus Delph, [Jonny] Howson, [Aidan] White and [Ben] Parker speak for themselves. Short-term gain, long-term loss. Leeds United are committed to caring and fostering our youth for the long-term benefit of the kids' future.'
So far 18-year-old Woods - who was an unused substitute in Chelsea's Carling Cup defeat to Burnley last week - has made just two substitute appearances for the Blues, which total less than half an hour on the pitch in FA Cup games against lower League opposition in January 2007.
Taiwo, also 18, has yet to play for the Premier League giants and does not even have a profile on the Chelsea website. He made five appearances - two as a substitute - during a loan spell at Port Vale earlier this season.
Rose, 18, has been similarly anonymous at Spurs since a controversial move in the summer of 2007. He is yet to make his debut, though he did not play for Leeds either.
By contrast Delph, who the Elland Road hierarchy now value at more than £10m , has now made 17 starts for Leeds, scoring three goals and has attracted interested from Arsenal, Manchester United, Newcastle, Portsmouth and Sunderland - and played in front of a League One crowd of 32,028 in the Yorkshire derby on Saturday.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
We're ready for step up – Kilkenny
By Phil Hay
Neil Kilkenny walked out of Pride Park on Tuesday night with the feeling that Leeds United are now equipped for a year in the Championship.
But the Australian international says the club's performance against Derby County should not be seen as absolute proof of their ability to cope in England's second division.
Leeds emerged from a 2-1 defeat to Derby in the fourth round of the Carling Cup with immense credit after outshining their Championship opponents for three-quarters of the game, but Kilkenny insisted the one-off tie would be quickly forgotten if United fail to follow it up with an equally convincing display against Huddersfield Town this weekend.
United were given little time to reflect on Tuesday's narrow defeat – a result which obscured one of their most creditable displays of the season – with a West Yorkshire derby awaiting, and the club will potentially move to the top of League One for at least two hours if they take three points from Saturday's 12.15pm kick-off.
Kilkenny admitted confidence was flowing through United's squad after their performance at Pride Park, an emotion tempered only by the concession of two cheap goals and disappointment at their failure to qualify for the quarter-finals of the Carling Cup.
But he was reluctant to accept that their domination of Derby or their second-round defeat of Crystal Palace in August had increased Leeds' chances of reaching the Championship at the end of this season.
"I'm sure Derby's players would admit that we deserved to win, and I feel we've proved to everyone that, on our day, we're capable of performances like that against teams at this level," said Kilkenny. "We're capable of matching up to teams in the Championship.
"We did the same against Crystal Palace, and when you look back at that game now you'd have to say that we beat them easily. It wasn't too much of a contest and that was down to the way we played.
"But I think we'd be stupid to look at the game at Derby and say 'that's us ready for the Championship'. If the club get promoted then we'll be ready.
"We've got another huge match to play against Huddersfield on Saturday in front of a full house and the fans who didn't have the chance to see us at Derby will expect us to perform in the same way at our own ground.
"You win and lose promotion in your league games, and we've got a lot of them left to play. "We'll take confidence from the Carling Cup game, and it's a really good sign about what we can achieve this season, but the performance against Derby will be worth more if we follow it up with another good display on Saturday."
News of United's excellent performance at Pride Park travelled quickly – Derby manager Paul Jewell admitted freely that his side had been "battered" for 70 minutes by Leeds – and reports of their creditable display are unlikely to hinder the sale of tickets for Saturday's League One game.
Leeds were already anticipating a crowd in excess of 30,000 after opening the upper tier of Elland Road's East Stand for the first time this season, and a sixth home win of the term would place United at the top of their division until present leaders Leicester City fulfil their fixture later in the day – provided second-placed Scunthorpe fail to win at Bristol Rovers on Friday night.
The schedule facing Gary McAllister's squad is growing in intensity – the club will have 48 hours to recover from Saturday's match before contesting an FA Cup first-round replay at Northampton Town – but Kilkenny expressed his disappointment after United narrowly failed to add a Carling Cup quarter-final to their busy fixture list.
"There's so much in that performance for us to be pleased with – except for the fact that we lost the game," he said. "We gave away two silly goals and that's going to frustrate us.
"The team deserve credit for the way we played but we've missed out on a place in the quarter-finals and that's a big deal to a club like Leeds.
"To be fair, whilst we made things difficult for ourselves, we didn't have a lot of luck either. Robert (Snodgrass) hit the post and Derby's keeper made a great save from Andy Robinson so in a way we were unfortunate and I think we did enough to deserve better.
"It's disappointing to be talking about how well we played and then realising that we're not through."
The Carling Cup may have ejected Leeds, but the League One table is looking increasingly satisfying for McAllister. Although Leicester climbed into first place on Tuesday night with a victory over Yeovil Town, Leeds trail them by two points and have established a gap of four over the club immediately below the play-off zone, Oldham Athletic.
Kilkenny was both a Championship and a Premier League footballer with Birmingham City, and he would be optimistic for United's chances if the club were thrown into the second tier with immediate effect.
But the midfielder said: "As a footballer, when you play well you want to win. Good performances don't register as much if the result goes against you.
"I've been confident since the start of the season that we'll do it (win promotion) and playing like we did against Derby is proof that we can, but we won't go up because of that game. It's our results from here that count.
"We've got good enough players and a good enough squad to have a go in the Championship.
"I've been at that level before so I know what it takes, and the manager's probably thinking about doing one or two things to the squad in January. I'd imagine that others will come in if we do go up, but that's all down the line.
"The best thing about the Derby game was the belief the players showed against a team who everyone expected to beat us. Let's do the same against Huddersfield and show that we can dominate like that twice in a week."
Yorkshire Evening Post 12/11/08
I'm gutted but proud says Mac
By Phil Hay
Leeds boss Gary McAllister admitted to mixed emotions of pride and dejection after a Carling Cup quarter-final place slipped through United's fingers last night.
His men suffered a 2-1 defeat to Derby County in the fourth round of the competition and McAllister was left to rue two soft goals which saw a fine performance against Championship opponents go unrewarded at Pride Park. Leeds conceded twice in the opening 18 minutes, allowing Emanuel Villa and Nathan Ellington to give Derby a commanding lead, but United fought back in inspired fashion to reduce their deficit through Luciano Becchio's 41st-minute header and had County hanging on in the second half.
Robert Snodgrass hit the post shortly after half-time and Andy Robinson was denied an equaliser by a brilliant save from Derby goalkeeper Roy Carroll, but United's supreme display – led once again by rising star Fabian Delph – failed to ease McAllister's disappointment at failing to reach the last eight.
"The last thing I wanted to say was that we played wonderfully well but we're out," he said. "Unfortunately that's the case, and we're disappointed.
"Football's a cruel game at times, but it's about winning. In a couple of weeks' time, people won't be talking about how well we played at Derby.
"I've passed on my thoughts to the players and I think you can imagine what I was saying to them. I'm not a massive follower of stats but (Derby) had four attacks and scored twice. I'm lost for words really."
Frustrated though he was, McAllister acknowledged his side's spirited response to a dreadful opening spell in which two moments of poor defending allowed Derby to place one foot in the quarter-finals with just 18 minutes gone.
United appeared to be heading for a humiliating rout, but Becchio's goal – his 10th of the season – gave Leeds the impetus to dominate Paul Jewell's side after half-time.
McAllister said: "When you're in trouble you've got to show bravery.
"At 2-0 down we went back to what we know best – that's keeping the ball and trying to get some passing together. "We worked our way back into the game and that's what impressed me most."
Derby manager Jewell watched his players struggle through a torrid second half to take their place in the last eight and said: "In between the two boxes they battered us for 70 minutes.
"Sometimes as a manager you have to hold your hands up and say that they played better than us. We've been fortunate, but you need that in football."
McAllister, meanwhile, reserved special praise for the contingent of 3,416 away fans who travelled to Pride Park last night and provided deafening support for his players throughout the fourth-round tie.
"I've got to divert praise to our fans," said McAllister.
"The enthusiasm and the support we got from the fans was repaid by the players, and I felt that we all worked hand-in-hand.
"The fans and the team showed where we're trying to get to, and this is what Leeds United is all about."
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
PROUD OF YOU ALL
12 Nov 2008
Macca hails players and fans after Derby defeat...
Gary McAllister hailed both the players and fans of Leeds United after Tuesday's Carling Cup fourth round defeat at Derby County.
United fell behind to two early goals at Pride Park, but hit back to dominate the contest with a fantastic display of football.
Luciano Becchio pulled a goal back before half-time, but for all the domination United were unable to find a second goal to level matters.
"I didn't want to say how wonderfully we played and how we moved the ball around as a team, yet leave Pride Park having been beaten," said the manager.
"We warranted something, extra time at least...They had four attacks at the most and scored twice. That is becoming our Achilles heel.
"They were poor goals. Unforced errors. We hadn't been put under pressure. Teams aren't having to work for the goals at the moment.
"But our possession was outstanding. We reverted to form and by that I mean it's what we know best and that's by working our way back into the game by passing it.
"We had all sorts. There was a great save by Roy Carroll and it was wave after wave of attacks.
"The players must take on board the fact that if they had any doubts of playing at Championship level they showed they could.
"They can be proud of their performance."
United were backed by almost 3500 fans at Pride Park and the support on offer at Pride Park was not lost on either the manager or his players.
"Our fans were outstanding," said Macca.
"It was like a home game. That is what Leeds United is all about.
"The fans sung for 90 minutes and the players gave them something to shout about.
"We were unlucky, but we have to move on.
"When we come back on Saturday against Huddersfield - and what a game that is to come back to - we have to repeat it and do it again."
Derby 2-1 Leeds
Derby County qualified for the Carling Cup quarter-finals at the expense of Leeds thanks to first-half goals from Emanuel Villa and Nathan Ellington.
Villa got the better of Lubomir Michalik and, with a curling left-foot shot, gave the home side an early lead.
Ellington doubled the advantage with a simple tap-in after great work by Kris Commons before Luciano Becchio's header from eight yards halved the deficit.
Leeds dominated after the break with Jermaine Beckford going close.
It was an audacious 35-yard effort from Leeds' substitute striker and the shot would have left the backpedalling Roy Carroll red faced had it hit the target.
The visitors twice came close to an equaliser either side of the hour mark, with Robert Snodgrass' curling free-kick clipping the outside of a post before Carroll was called into action to keep out Andy Robinson's well-struck 10-yard effort.
But Derby held on to reach the last eight of the League Cup for the first time since 1990.
The home side got off to the best possible start when Villa, hat-trick hero from the previous round against Brighton, opened the scoring in the sixth minute with a superb solo effort.
In the 11th minute, Paul Connolly deflected Becchio's goal-bound effort over the crossbar but then the home side doubled their lead in exquisite style.
Commons played a neat one-two with Przemyslaw Kazmierczak on the edge of the area, Commons then dummied to shoot before rolling the ball to Ellington for his fifth goal of the competition.
Becchio converted Frazer Richardson's right-wing cross before the break but for all their second-half dominance, Leeds could not manage an equaliser.
Derby manager Paul Jewell:
"After 18 minutes it was one-way traffic and I was wondering how many goals we were going to score.
"I thought I might be able to actually sit back and enjoy a game for once. Every time we went forward we looked like we were going to score.
"But then, give Leeds credit, they absolutely dominated possession and scored a good goal and hit a post. They battered us for 70 minutes.
"I don't know whether we took a step back but the game totally transformed and sometimes as a manager you have to hold your hands up and say they played better than us."
Leeds manager Gary McAllister:
"I am lost for words really. I passed on my thoughts to the players and I think you can imagine what I was saying to them.
"I am not a massive follower of statistics but they had four attacks and scored twice.
"Our football was good but the last thing I wanted was to have to come out after the game and say we played wonderfully well but we are out, and that is the case and I am disappointed.
"It was the best they (Leeds) played this season but it is a cruel game at times and it is about winning."
Sunday, November 09, 2008
Leeds' agonising wait for win in the Cup continues
FA Cup First Round
Leeds 1 Northampton 1
The consolation for Leeds United is that they avoided the ignominy of becoming the first Football League club eliminated from this season's FA Cup. Yet in failing to overcome a Northampton side reduced to 10 men for the majority of the match, they extended their 5½-year wait for a win in this competition. Not since February 2003, when Leeds were accustomed to beginning their campaign in the third round, have they triumphed. With a replay at Sixfields to come, the second round would represent progress now.
A simpler route towards Wembley appeared probable when Giles Coke was cautioned for the second time within the first half-hour and then Andy Robinson equalised from a penalty 10 minutes later. "It's a missed opportunity," said the Leeds manager, Gary McAllister. "Doom-and-gloom people will say it's a bad result but I'm not going to lose any sleep."
It was evident that Leeds' threat came from the flanks. The wings, Robinson and Robert Snodgrass, adopted starting positions on either touchline, allowing them to stretch the game and embark on angled runs towards the penalty box. Each struck the woodwork after veering infield to shoot. Paul Telfer was similarly unfortunate when his header was cleared by Danny Jackman, who was on sentry duty on the line. "On another night we could have got four or five," added McAllister.
"The harder you work, the luckier you get and we rode our luck at times," said the Northampton manager, Stuart Gray. "It was backs to the wall, like a forwards-versus-defence training exercise."
Among the crowd at the sparsely populated Elland Road was Tony Adams, the new Portsmouth manager, who saw proof of the precocity of the 18-year-old Fabian Delph. Already the subject of a bid from Newcastle, the Leeds midfielder displayed explosive speed and skill, producing a counter-attack curtailed only by the illegal challenge which resulted in Coke's exit.
At that stage Northampton had led after Scott McGleish, on loan from Wycombe Wanderers, pounced from close range to net his 203rd career goal after a swift break by Ryan Gilligan. Leeds require added firepower themselves and may offer a contract to the former Derby and Middlesbrough forward Malcolm Christie.
HELD AT HOME
08 Nov 2008
United held at home by Northampton in FA Cup...
UNITED 1 (Robinson 37 pen), NORTHAMPTON 1 (McGleish 9)
United: Ankergren, Richardson, Michalik, Telfer, Parker (White 83), Snodgrass, Douglas, Delph, Howson (Showunmi 78), Becchio, Robinson. Subs: Lucas, Prutton, Kilkenny, Hughes, Webb.
Northampton: Fielding, Crowe, Hughes, Doig (Dyer 12), Jackman, Gilligan, Coke, McGleish (Bignall 53), Holt, Constantine (Davis 73), Dolman. Subs: Henderson, Dunn, Jones, Taylor.
Referee: M Oliver
Booked: White (United), Coke, Holt, Jackman (Northampton)
Sent-off: Coke (Northampton)
nited's first round clash against Northampton marked the start of the FA Cup proper, and the game got off to a fiery start when Giles Coke was booked for a lunge on Ben Parker.
Luciano Becchio fired an early effort over the top, but the visitors shocked Elland Road when Scott McGleish fired Northampton into an early lead.
Ryan Gilligan escaped down the left and his low cross was converted by McGleish, after former United striker Leon Constantine made a nuisance of himself on the edge of the six-yard box.
nited were almost back on level terms eight minutes later when Paul Telfer had a header cleared off the line, following a corner.
Worryingly, Northampton had the ball in the net again on 20 minutes, but the strike was ruled out by an offside flag.
But there was drama after just 26 minutes when the visitors were reduced to 10 men. Coke received his second yellow card of the night for a cynical challenge on Fabian Delph in the middle of the park.
And, from the resultant free-kick, Lubo Michalik almost became an unlikely goal hero when he sent a powerfully struck volley fizzing wide of the mark.
United had a couple of chances, but Northampton had another chance after Andy Holt played in Gilligan who was denied by Casper Ankergren. His block fell to McGleish who tried his luck from 40 yards, but fired over the top.
At the other end, Jonny Howson forced Frank Fielding into making a save after good work by Becchio.
But on 36 minutes, United were awarded a penalty after Mark Hughes was adjudged to have fouled Howson. Andy Robinson stepped up to take the spot-kick and coolly executed his finish.
There was a bizarre incident on 40 minutes when visiting goalkeeper Fielding attempted to keep a Michalik shot in play and Becchio seized upon the loose ball, but fired wide.
Moments later, Robinson rattled the upright with a right-foot shot from distance. Jonathan Douglas also had a shot blocked by Hughes.
Howson was next to go close when he hit the side-netting from a tight angle following a Frazer Richardson cross. From the resultant corner, Delph lifted a shot over the top.
United also fashioned out the first chance of the second period when Robinson fired over the top after cutting inside.
The second goal almost came in style moments later when Rob Snodgrass let the ball go across him before delivering a superb left-footed strike which rattled the post.
Snodgrass also tested Fielding with a well-struck free-kick on 63 minutes as United continued the search for a second.
Howson had an opportunity with a header after finding space, while Robinson tried his luck with a curling shot from distance.
United were dominating the clash, but the visitors were defending doggedly with men behind the ball in the hope of keeping parity.
On 72 minutes, Fielding was called upon to get down well to deny Delph after the youngster broke from midfield.
With 12 minutes remaining, McAllister made his first change of the game, introducing Enoch Showunmi in place of Howson. His first involvement sparked a goalmouth scramble as United continued to press in the hope of settling the tie.
Showunmi thought he had claims for a penalty after falling in the box, and Jonathan Douglas had a shot deflected into the arms of Fielding, but United were unable to find a way through as the clock started to tick down.
Robinson had a free-kick saved in the final minute of normal time, but there was no winning goal, and the two sides must now meet again.
The replay is set for Sixfields on Tuesday November 18 (7.45pm).
Thursday, November 06, 2008
06 Nov 2008
Hughes available plus youngster handed squad number...
United manager Gary McAllister welcomes Andrew Hughes back to his squad for Friday's FA Cup first round clash against Northampton Town.
Hughesy has been sidelined with a groin injury, but will come back into contention as United square up with the Cobblers at Elland Road.
Macca has also handed a squad number to young midfielder Josh Falkingham ahead of the first round tie.
Rui Marques is still sidelined with injury and won't make the squad, while Alan Sheehan is also out with injury.
The boss is hoping to welcome Sheehan back into training next week, although he insists he won't be rushing the Irishman back into action.
Fans wanting to purchase tickets for the Northampton game are advised to do so in advance to avoid queues on the night.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
Leeds reject Newcastle bid for midfield maestro Fabian Delph as Arsenal continue to circle
Leeds chairman Ken Bates has confirmed that the Elland Road club has rejected a recent bid from Newcastle for Fabian Delph.
The 18-year-old midfielder has attracted interest from Premier League clubs following a string of fine displays in his breakthrough season with the League One outfit.
Arsenal have been constantly linked with a bid for the England Under 19 international, but chairman Bates says that the Magpies have already made a move for the talented youngster.
"I'm still amazed at a recent offer Newcastle made for Fabian," Bates told Yorkshire Radio. "I won't tell you the content of the fax we sent back but it did end the conversation.
"It's inevitable if the team does well predatory upper league clubs will try their luck without success.
"Fabian Delph will be moving to Premier League - but we hope he'll be moving with us via the Championship.
"He signed a four-year contract until 2012 and he doesn't want to go anywhere."
Meanwhile, Bates is refusing to rule out selling out-of-favour Bradley Johnson when the transfer window reopens in January.
Johnson, who is currently enjoying a successful loan spell with Brighton, has been linked with Championship clubs QPR, Cardiff and Southampton
"One of the clubs reportedly interested in Bradley couldn't do anything anyway," he continued.
"Gary McAllister will look at where he feels he needs to strengthen and what players are surplus to requirements."
Delph was born in Bradford and began his career in football as a trainee at Bradford City.
Delph left City in September 2001 to join Leeds United. He went to Tong Secondary School, which he left in 2006 to sign a two-year scholarship with Leeds United, at the age of 16 years old.
In March 2008, Delph started his international career, making his debut as a substitute for the England Under 19s.
After a string of impressive performances in Spring 2008, Delph was made captain of the Leeds Reserves.
He was given his debut at Leeds as a substitute in the final match of the 2006–07 season against Derby County on May 6, 2007. He was awarded his first professional contract on 11 January 2008. Delph made two appearances for Leeds in the 2007–08 season, both as a substitute.
Delph impressed in the 2008–09 pre-season friendly against Barnet, and has since been a permanent fixture in Gary McAllister's promotion-chasing side.
Yorkshire Evening Post 2/11/08
Prutton is staying positive
By Phil Hay
David Prutton believes automatic promotion from League One will be won and lost on the road this season – and says Leeds United must prove they are not a "soft touch" away from Elland Road.
The midfielder fears that a mediocre away record could expose Leeds to the lottery of the play-offs for a second year running in May, but he expects the club to come to terms quickly with the stern resistance they are encountering on their travels.
United were under pressure to end a sequence of four straight away losses, including three League One matches, during yesterday's visit to Cheltenham Town, and their disappointing string of results has been a complete contrast to the consistency shown by Gary McAllister's players at Elland Road.
Leeds have recorded seven home wins in a row and were three points away from the top of their division before kick-off yesterday, but Prutton wants United to take a grip of the league by imposing themselves on clubs away from their own stadium.
McAllister's side surrendered three points at Peterborough United, Millwall and Southend United last month, and United's boss described the form as a "concern" following Tuesday night's 1-0 loss at Southend.
Prutton agreed with McAllister's verdict, saying: "We want to be a team that uses our home advantage by playing well and moving the ball about, but we have to show that we're not a soft touch away from home.
"There have been times when we've had chances to do that and haven't taken them. I'm all for playing good football, and I think the fans enjoy the way that we're playing this season, but you also have to make sure you're no push-overs.
"The away record might be the difference between being in the top two at the end of the season or coming third. These things are hugely important and as the season progresses, a good team will get onto a roll.
"We had a great six or seven-game spell in September when we stayed unbeaten, and then we went to Peterborough and lost.
"You see the way they celebrated afterwards and think 'Christ, that's only one league game!' It was the same at Southend on Tuesday and the same at Millwall.
"But in the grand scheme of things, it is important to them, and I think these teams get a sense of pride from beating Leeds United.
"The sooner we get our heads around that, the better we'll be away from home, but I'm confident we'll do that.
"There's a real positivity from us at Elland Road, and a couple of the home games have had four or five written all over them.
"You can see the confidence and the stature of the team.
"Away from home, we're going to grounds that aren't like Elland Road and we've got a mindset telling us that it's going to be tough.
"But any team worth its salt and who wants to get promoted has to realise that and deal with it."
Prutton has been forced to watch much of United's fluctuating season from the sidelines after seeing other players fight their way in McAllister's side ahead of him.
The midfielder was a crucial member of the club's squad last term and won himself a contract extension at the start of the season, but he started only three league games during the first three months of this term.
His position is indicative of the vast number of midfielders available to McAllister – a group so large that Leeds were able to release Bradley Johnson and Ian Westlake on loan last month – but Prutton admitted United's prominent league position was making it virtually impossible for their manager to make wholesale changes to his team.
Prutton said: "Last season was very enjoyable and, to be fair, I've been out of a winning team this season. We've been very fluid.
"It's frustrating that I've not been in the side but when a team's playing well there's not a lot you can say about it.
"The important thing is to make sure you're ready to get involved if we reach a batch of games where we're not performing to our full potential.
"Every player believes they should be in the team and I'm no different.
"I believed that last season and I still do. But there are only a certain amount of place up for grabs and the big thing at this club is the number of players who are putting themselves in contention for a shirt.
"When a team's winning and you're not part of it, the results don't always feel like you're achievement because you don't have a major influence on what's going on.
"But the way you apply yourself in training is important, and you have to set an example by going about things in the right way.
"We all train really well anyway, but if the guys in the first team know that there are people behind them who aren't fading away and won't give them a moment's rest by letting the team pick itself then that has to make everyone sharper."