Saturday, July 25, 2009

Leedsunited.com 25/7/09
BLACKBURN DRAW
UNITED 1 (Beckford 50), BLACKBURN 1 (Gallagher 90 pen)
United: Higgs, Crowe (Hughes 56), Marques (Huntington 74), Kisnorbo (Michalik 56), Parker (Sheehan 69), Snodgrass, Delph (Robinson 69), Howson, Johnson (Prutton 74), Beckford (Showunmi 79), Becchio (Grella 79). Subs: Martin.
Blackburn: Robinson (Brown 60), Jacobsen (Olsson 66), Warnock, Nzonzi (Dunn 67), Nelsen, Givet (Khizanshvili 72), Roberts (Gallagher 66), Andrews, McCarthy, Diouf (Hollett 72), Pedersen (Van Heerden 73). Subs: Doran, Judge.
Referee: M Oliver.
Att: 11,885
United were entertaining Blackburn in the only pre-season friendly at Elland Road and such was the interest in the game that the kick-off was put back 15 minutes to allow many of the queueing fans the chance to gain entry to the stadium.
Simon Grayson was without injured goalkeeper Casper Ankergren, paving the way for Shane Higgs to join Jason Crowe and Patrick Kisnorbo in the Elland Road debut stakes.
But it was an older face who almost broke the deadlock inside the opening three minutes when Luciano Becchio tried his luck from distance, lifting a speculative effort narrowly over the bar.
Becchio was also involved in almost creating a good opportunity for Jermaine Beckford, but former Leeds goalkeeper Paul Robinson reacted well to force a corner.
And, on eight minutes, Leeds were denied by the upright. Fabian Delph made a terrific, surging run forward and while his shot beat Robinson, it also clipped the outside of the post.
Moments later, Delph picked out Beckford with a stunning cross-field pass and Beckford's lobbed finish was cleared by the head of a Blackburn defender.
United had started in terrific fashion, passing the ball quickly, causing all manner of problems, and Grayson's men almost profited from an own goal on 15 minutes when a header hit the post. The ball came back to Beckford, but his hooked shot was just over the bar.
When Blackburn came forward, Higgs collected a Diouf free-kick and Rui Marques got in a good block to force a corner when under pressure from Jason Roberts.
But it was Leeds who continued to look the more dangerous and after Crowe and Becchio linked up on the right, the South American curled a shot wide of the mark.
As the game headed towards half-time, Robinson was called upon again to beat away a good strike from Beckford. The Blackburn goalkeeper found Becchio's follow-up easier to deal with.
The visitors did have another opportunity on 41 minutes with a free-kick on the edge of the box, but Morten Gamst Pedersen's effort failed to trouble Higgs in the United goal.
Higgs was called upon moments later to come off his line to deny Roberts after some good play led to Blackburn creating an opening.
There was a moment of concern on the stroke of half-time when Robert Snodgrass received treatmenty on a knock, and the Scot limped frm the field for the remaining seconds of the half.
Snodgrass returned for the second period and immediately Leeds threatened with Beckford having a shot deflected for a corner.
And there were acrobatics from Robinson on 49 minutes when the former Leeds goalkeeper turned a Snodgrass shot around the post.
But the opening goal came from the resultant corner. Snodgrass whipped the ball in, Becchio deftly nodded the ball on, and Beckford flicked the ball home with a delightful finish.
Almost immediately, Higgs was called upon to make a superb double save, first from Roberts then Diouf, who followed up with a powerful effort.
The goal and subsequent saves prompted the Kop into some good humoured banter with Blackburn goalkeeper Robinson who had learnt his trade at Elland Road.
Robinson had made some terrific saves and he pulled off another one on 54 minutes from a Bradley Johnson free-kick. Six minutes later his afternoon ended when he was substituted, but he was quick to throw his gloves into the Kop as he left the field to a terrific ovation.
Substitutions became the regular feature during the midway period of the second half and, as is often the case in pre-season games, the early impetus was lost as fresh faces looked to adapt to the pace.
Blackburn had enjoyed more ball in the second period, but as the game hit the 75-mark minute, the visitors were still looking to force a decent opening with Leeds defending well.
Paul Gallagher and David Dunn tried their luck from distance for Rovers, and both sides had penalty appealed waved away by referee Mike Oliver as the game entered the final five minutes.
Oliver relented on 90 minutes, though, when he pointed to the spot after Alan Sheehan was adjudged to have fouled Benni McCarthy. Gallagher duly converted with a crisp penalty to level the scores.


Yorkshire Evening Post 25/7/09
Grayson's delight at netting his top target
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson has described the capture of defender Patrick Kisnorbo as "a big coup" which highlights the pulling-power of Elland Road.
United out-manoeuvred a handful of clubs in the Championship to sign Kisnorbo on a free transfer on Wednesday, and Grayson admitted he had secured his "number one target" by landing the Australian international.Leeds identified Kisnorbo as a possible signing at the start of the summer but the centre-back, who left Leicester City after his contract expired in May, was expected to land a deal in the Championship and he completed a short trial at Derby County earlier this month.
Grayson was forced to be patient while Kisnorbo assessed his options thoroughly but though Crystal Palace were keen on taking him to London, the 28-year-old settled on another season in League One by accepting United's offer of a two-year contract this week.
Grayson said: "It's a big coup for us. When you've got teams in the Championship chasing him and he decides to come here, it says a lot about the player and a lot about this club.
"As soon as I knew he was available, he was one of the targets we wanted to go for, but you have to wait for certain things to happen. He's been away on holiday and he also wanted to test the water in the Championship.
"Things never develop quickly but even when those teams did offer him something, we were in there as well and he wanted to come here. He's going to be a great signing for us."
The capture of Kisnorbo has added depth to the area of Grayson's squad which has looked weakest during pre-season, a period in which Leeds have conceded nine goals in five first-team friendlies.
Grayson's attempts to work on his defence have been hindered by injuries to Richard Naylor and Rui Marques – Naylor has not featured in any of the club's matches so far while Marques completed his first summer outing at Grimsby Town on Tuesday night – but Kisnorbo was due to make his debut against Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road today and he is bringing solid Championship experience to United's squad.
The former Heart of Midlothian player was at one time Leicester's captain, and he has emerged as a possible candidate to carry the armband at the start of next season with Naylor unlikely to be fit for the first weekend of the term.
Grayson said: "You could compare him to Richard. He’s a leader and a no-nonsense defender.“We’ve now got five centre-halves on our books and we don’t look too bad in either of the full-back positions so we’ve got decent cover all over.
“I’m not going to say that we’re fully satisfied because we could still go out and sign another defender if I feel that’s the way to go.”

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Yorkshire Evening Post 18/7/09
United cruise past Glentoran
By Phil Hay
Glentoran 1 Leeds United 3
Leeds United recorded their first win of pre-season against the most vibrant team of the club's summer so far to bring to a conclusion their tour of Ireland.
United's attacking flair picked apart a limited Glentoran side whose commitment and aggression failed to bridge the divide in quality between the two teams.Robert Snodgrass and Jermaine Beckford scored in a one-sided first half to give United a 2-0 lead at the interval, but their chances were so numerous that the scoreline could have run out of control during that period.
In contrast to previous draws against York City and Shelbourne, the full advantage was not sacrificed by Leeds and Enoch Showunmi's late finish halted the tentative fightback attempted by Glentoran.
Manager Simon Grayson had been adamant all week that his players' time in Ireland would be focused primarily on fitness work, with little emphasis on their results, but a convincing display at The Oval will see his party travel home this evening with a victory behind them.
The game had more a competitive edge than Leeds might have expected – Glentoran were involved in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League in midweek – and United's hosts were happy to engage in match which was unexpectedly physical and occasionally fractious.
United's line-up yesterday was a potential indication of Grayson's thinking for next season, representing what would seem to be his strongest line-up without the players whose injuries prevented them from travelling to Ireland.
Fresh from the news that he has been removed from the transfer list and will stay at Leeds next season, Beckford's successful partnership with Luciano Becchio was renewed and the majority of those who started the game were left on the field by Grayson for over an hour.
Glentoran's attitude was just as serious with 10 of the 11 players involved in their 6-0 defeat to Maccabi Haifa in Israel on Wednesday night fielded again yesterday, and there was no lack of spirit in the home ranks.
But the sharpness of United's attack was a positive feature of Tuesday night's 2-2 draw at Shelbourne, the first game of this week's two-match tour, and their quality going forward was evident from the kick-off at The Oval.
Swift passing between Beckford, Becchio and Snodgrass had Glentoran scrambling to clear the ball behind at the end of Leeds' first attack, and the goal occupied by Elliott Morris was under pressure throughout the opening 10 minutes.
Andy Robinson threatened twice with a goalbound shot which Glentoran captain Paul Leeman headed clear and another effort pulled wide of a post, and Morris' parry beat away a shot on the turn from Beckford.
There was bite in Glentoran's tackles but they fell behind on 14 minutes before they had a chance to play their way into the game.
A kind ricochet on the edge of Glentoran's box presented the ball to Snodgrass in so much space that he could hardly fail to place a low finish around Morris, and the chances flowed quickly at the keeper's end of the field.
His superb parry denied Beckford after the striker wrestled his way past Johnny Taylor, and Robinson's follow-up dipped a foot over the crossbar with Morris exposed. Minutes later, Ben Parker's cross drew a lovely glancing header from Beckford which carried narrowly wide of the far post.
The opening 20 minutes clearly demonstrated the squads' respective levels of ability, though Glentoran's midweek journey to Haifa cannot have helped their condition yesterday, and their early chances were limited to a shot from Daryl Fordyce which struck Parker in the face 18 yards from goal and Dean Fitzgerald's wayward strike.
Richard Clarke caused Shane Higgs more trouble when his left-footed shot came within a yard of finding the corner of United's net, but another flowing attack started in midfield by Jonathan Howson and carried on by Beckford required Taylor's sliding tackle to prevent Robinson from claiming a tap-in.
In the final minute of the half, Becchio rose to head a deep cross from Andy Hughes against Elliott's right-hand post, and before the interval could arrive, Robinson slipped a pass through a sleeping defence to allow Beckford to dance around Morris and clip the ball high into the net.
Grayson limited himself to two changes at the break, involving Aidan White and Tom Lees while Glentoran made a flurry of substitutions, and it gave United the chance to continue their dominant performance.
Robinson's shot on the turn after 54 minutes was flicked wide by Glentoran's replacement goalkeeper James Taylor, but Glentoran pulled a goal back four minutes later when Andrew Hall's pull-back was finished in style by Grant Gardiner, his shot whistling into the top corner of Higgs' net.
United's riposte was to strike a post through Beckford's long-range header – the striker's last chance before he left the field on 66 minutes – and Bradley Johnson missed a ridiculously easy chance after Mike Grella's low cross reached him four yards from goal.
A better finish would have all but guaranteed United's victory but Johnny Black's failure to deal with a through ball left Enoch Showunmi to do the honours by slipping a shot under Taylor and sending Leeds back to the mainland with a subtle spring in their step.


Leedsunited.com 17/7/09
BECKFORD OFF TRANSFER LIST
Leeds United have taken strikerJermaine Beckford off the transfer list.
The striker has one year remaining on his current contract and had been placed on the transfer list in May after his agent rejected a new deal with the club.
But the player, who scored twice in United's 2-2 draw at Shelbourne on Tuesday, will remain at Elland Road after chairman Ken Bates confirmed on Friday that the striker's name had been taken off the transfer list.
"I've discussed the situation with Simon and we've taken Jermaine off the transfer list," the chairman told Yorkshire Radio.
"We're quite happy to keep him, he's under contract until the end of the season, and we're looking forward to him playing his part in getting us promoted this season.
"He didn't ask for a transfer remember. He asked for a wage increase which we offered, but his agent wanted more and we weren't willing to pay.
"Becks is very happy at Leeds. Whatever he has got he gives us, and he is one those players who even if he has a bad game he pops up and scores unlikely goals so he will always contribute.
"Hopefully he will score another 34 goals this season!"

Leedsunited.com 14/7/09
BECKS AT DOUBLE AS UNITED HELD BY SHELS
SHELBOURNE 2 (Bates 48, Crawley 56 pen), LEEDS UNITED 2 (Beckford 27, 41)
Shelbourne: Whelan, McMenaman, Crawley, McMillan, Doherty, O'Brien, Costigan, Cassidy, Klanas, Georgescu, Baker. Subs: Farrell, Murray, Flood, Sinnott, Bates, O'Reilly, Moran, Kavanagh.
United (1st half): Ankergren, Hughes, Lees, Michalik, Sheehan, Robinson, Delph, Howson, Showunmi (White 28), Beckford, Grella.
United (2nd half): Ankergren, Hughes (Darville 65), Crowe, Huntington, Parker, Snodgrass, Prutton, Johnson, White, Grella (Elliott 65), Becchio.
Att: 3343

United manager Simon Grayson again planned to make full use of his squad, with wholesale changes after 45 minutes, and on this occasion Fabian Delph was handed the captain's armband for the opening period.
And the manager was almost celebrating a goal inside the opening 90 seconds when Mike Grella capitalised on a defensive error, but he squared to Jermaine Beckford who was immediately crowded out.
Grella also tested Shelbourne goalkeeper Vinny Whelan after good work by Enoch Showunmi on the left created the opening.
Leeds continued to press and Grella was again involved when he created an opening for Beckford, who failed to make a sweet connection.
Beckford also came within a whisker of opening the scoring on 21 minutes when he rounded goalkeeper Whelan, but saw his shot from the tightest of angles cleared off the line.
Moments later, following more good build-up play, Beckford tried his luck with a speculative overhead kick.
But on 26 minutes, Beckford bagged his first goal of the season. Last season's leading goalscorer finished off another good move with a well-placed finish which left Whelan with no chance.
Beckford almost bagged a second within the space of three minutes, but Andy Robinson's cross fell just behind him and he was unable to make firm contact.
United were dominating proceedings and Beckford almost profited from more good attacking play when he headed an Andrew Hughes cross against the underside of the bar.
The follow-up was scrambled clear, but Leeds immediately came forward again and Jonny Howson skidded a shot wide after the Shelbourne defence allowed him to run.
The second goal did come on 41 minutes and was thoroughly deserved. Aidy White was the provider with a by-line pull-back and Beckford made no mistake with another good finish.
Robinson almost made it three before half-time when he tried his luck from distance and Whelan failed to hold his shot before managing to turn it over the bar.
Grayson made a number of changes at the break with Jason Crowe being handed the opportunity alongside Paul Huntington at centre-back, and Luciano Becchio lining-up alongside Grella in the front-line.
The second half started as the first ended with White embarking on a mazy run down the left beforeBradley Johnson headed a David Prutton cross at the goalkeeper.
But, amazingly, Shelbourne pulled a goal back with their very first serious attack of the game. Ritchie Baker delivered the cross from the right and Guy Bates powered a header past Casper Ankergren.
Rather like the previous weekend at York, the home side started the second half looking more of a threat and Paul Huntington had to work to snuff out the threat of Hans Klanas.
Ankergren also saved well from Baker, but in the ensuing melee, the referee adjudged Hughes to have handled and David Crawley stepped up to equalise from the penalty spot.
In keeping with the theme of many pre-season games, the match slowly lost its impetus during the second period and by the midway stage there was little in the way of entertainment for the 3,000 plus crowd.
Shelbourne, in the middle of the current league campaign and boasting superior fitness, were working Leeds much more, though, and Ankergren was called upon again to beat away a free-kick in the 70th minute. Klanas also lifted a shot over the top for the home side.
But it was Leeds who fashioned out a chance with just 10 minutes remaining when Becchio headed a Johnson cross over the bar.
Tom Elliott almost prompted a goalmouth scramble when he went up for a header with the home goalkeeper, but play was halted while the Shelbourne man received treatment.
Leeds were finishing the stronger and on 87 minutes, Robert Snodgrass hooked an effort over the top as Grayson's men sought a winner.
But the final whistle brought the contest to an end, and the United manager will have been happy to see the majority of the squad play at least another 45 minutes football.