Saturday, February 27, 2010 27/2/10
Gallant Leeds hit by Huddersfield leveller...
HUDDERSFIELD 2 (Pilkington 14, Roberts 85), UNITED 2 (Howson 61, Naylor 66)
United manager Simon Grayson made just one change to his starting line-up, Gary McSheffrey returning in place of Aidy White, as his side looked to record a first ever league win at the Galpharm Stadium.
While Leeds were bolstered by a midweek win against Oldham, Huddersfield were unbeaten in 10 and Terriers manager Lee Clark named an unchanged side.
Unsurprisingly, the game attracted the biggest crowd of the season to the Galpharm, and the opening exchanges were typical in that neither side was able to put a foot on the ball.
It was Leeds who had first sight of goal after nine minutes, though, when Luciano Becchio was unable to keep his header down, following an Andrew Hughes cross.
But it was Huddersfield who took the lead in the 14th minute in bizarre fashion. Anthony Pilkington picked up the ball outside of the area and his shot took a massive deflection leaving Casper Ankergren stranded.
United looked unflustered Robert Snodgrass forced Alex Smithies into pulling off a great save before Becchio headed a corner into the side-netting.
At the other end, it took some good defending from Paddy Kisnorbo to shut out at Huddersfield and from the break, Jermaine Beckford won a free-kick just inside the Huddersfield half when he was flattened after losing possession.
As the game edged towards the half-hour, Pilkington again went close from distance, this time with an opportunist curling strike from distance.
The home side were the beneficiaries of a number of a free-kicks during the first half, much to the clear frustration of the United players.
United almost fashioned out an opening after a quite superb challenge by Jonny Howson, but the midfielder's cross was cut out with Beckford waiting to pounce.
As a contest it was fairly even. While United were more careful and constructive in terms of build-up play, Huddersfield's pace and incision on the break made sure the home side were always a threat.
And it was the home side who should have scored a second goal before half-time when some good passing play resulted in a free Jordan Rhodes smashing the ball over the top from close range. Micky Doyle also made a timely intervention in stoppage time to clear the danger.
United were still very much in the contest at the break, but Ankergren had to come racing off his line straight from the re-start to save at the feet of a Huddersfield player.
United's response was immediate and after some good play around the Huddersfield box, Beckford headed a Doyle cross over the top. Huddersfield also had to clear their lines when McSheffrey whipped in a low cross for Beckford.
The equaliser came on the hour mark, though. Howson started a move that saw Snodgrass beat the Huddersfield defender, and the United midfielder got on the end of the cross to head home to make it 1-1.
When United threatened again, and Beckford looked to be through, play was again brought back for yet another infringement.
And it was 2-1 on 66 minutes. Snodgrass whipped in a corner from the right, Naylor headed on, and Becchio headed home from close range.
Suddenly, it was United who were in the driving seat and, unsually, Huddersfield found themselves having to come from behind on home soil. The home side did come within a whisker on 74 minutes when Peter Clarke headed a corner against the base of the post, and United were clearly going to have some defending to do during the final stages.
Ankergren also had to make a good save from Lee Novak after he got a touch on a vicious free-kick. And Naylor, Kisnorbo, and Becchio all made timely clearances as Huddersfield looked for an equaliser.
The game had turned into a real battle - Doyle was sporting a bandaged head - and it was all hands to the pumps as United looked to see the game home with six minutes left on the clock.
But an equaliser came in the 85th minute when a cross came over from the Huddersfield right and Gary Roberts arrived at the far post to side-foot the ball home.
United came storming back and both Snodgrass and Beckford made lung-busting challenges in the Huddersfield goalmouth in search of a winner.
Both sides made changes in the final minute of normal time, but five extra minutes were added to the contest. Tresor Kandol came on for Leeds and he quickly made his presence felt, and as United looked for a winner, Bradley Johnson landed a floating cross on the top of the goal.
Leeds were enjoying the possession deep in stoppage time, but with Lowry lined up to take one final throw-in, the whistle went on what had turned into a pulsating contest.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Telegraph 4/2/10
Robert Snodgrass can lead Leeds United to promised land
There is a perverse pleasure taken by Leeds fans in the anonymity granted by their fall from grace and glory to destitution and despair.
By Rory Smith
It is a survival mechanism, denying rivals the opportunity to remind them of their travails by pre-empting the jibe. Leeds United, for six long years, have claimed they are not famous any more. Time for a new edition of the song-book.
It may have taken the unlikeliest of FA Cup adventures to bring Leeds back to public consciousness, victory at Old Trafford and sheer, dogged bloody-mindedness dragging Simon Grayson’s side to a last-gasp, last-ditch draw atTottenham Hotspur but Leeds are back indeed. In truth, they never went away. Elland Road is home to the sort of enduring fame which never truly ebbs, never fades.
It is there in the stands, where the fans, deafening, snarling and broiling, took less than 15 minutes to wrap scarves around fists, three sides of the ground dotted by flashes of twirling white as they urged Grayson’s team forward. It is a habit Leeds caught in Europe, a regular feature of Champions League nights. It has never gone away.
And, increasingly, it is there on the pitch too. White Hart Lane proved Old Trafford was not a fluke. Here, Leeds could have been four down at half time, had Jermain Defoe showed the sort of clinical touch in front of goal he possessed before Christmas. Yet still they clung to Spurs’s coat-tails, clawing their way back from a goal down to Champions League pretenders.
Grayson does not possess a team which is a patch on the generation which made Leeds contenders to win that competition 10 years ago, not merely enter it, the limit of Harry Redknapp’s ambition at this stage.
But in Jonny Howson, the Armley-born midfielder who stood on the Kop, scarf swinging, as Deportivo La Coruna, AC Milan and Lazio were felled beneath Yorkshire’s wall of sound, they have a passable impersonation of a young Lee Bowyer, filled with channelled aggression and attacking instincts.
He is not the only player who offers Elland Road a reminder that before the bust, there was a boom. The Premier League was well aware of Jermaine Beckford long before his exploits at the homes of football’s rich and famous last month, and the expiry of his deal at Leeds this summer will no doubt attract the attention of countless managers struggling to adapt to the strictures of football’s collapsed economy.
Robert Snodgrass, though, is the jewel in the crown, blessed with the sort of gifts which, though raw, are fit for the stage Elland Road was, and has no doubt it will be again. Beckford represents a gamble for the top flight.
The young Scot is the nearest approximation the lower leagues can produce to a sure thing.
His every touch sends a jolt of electricity around the stands, his footwork fleet enough to bear comparison to the Premier League superstars, the millionaire household names, who Leeds have discovered a taste for embarrassing.
The fans, of course, hope that he will stay, shunning the riches of the Premier League in the short-term to guide them from the wilderness back to the promised land. The west Riding’s paupers, from the country’s great one team city, know they need him to continue to bewitch them if their exile is to end, if their return to fame is to be guaranteed, if the self-deprecation is to stop.

Sky 4/2/10
Boss proud of Leeds effort
Bosses heap praise on United Cup performance
Leeds United boss Simon Grayson believes his side came out of their FA Cup defeat to Tottenham Hotspur with a lot of credit.
The League One high fliers' fine cup run eventually ended courtesy of Jermain Defoe's hat-trick in a 3-1 fifth round replay defeat.
But Grayson did not carry the look of a crestfallen manager after the game and was clearly proud of his players' performance in front of a passionate Elland Road full house.
He said: "We were very good again. We passed the ball around well and competed ever so well against a top team in the Premier League.
"That's all we said to the players - give a good account of yourself and do yourselves justice.
"Nobody expected us to win apart from maybe 33,000 inside the ground and the players, but we like to think we've come out of it with a lot of credit."
Spurs boss Harry Redknapp was full of praise for the Yorkshiremen, who had pushed his side all the way after their famous third-round upset atManchester United.
"These are difficult games," Redknapp added. "I've won and lost these games when you're fancied to win.
"We came to Elland Road - probably the first time for some of my players. The atmosphere the fans created was just incredible.
"This is a massive football club. It's really a Premier League club and it needs to get back where it belongs.
"Leeds are a good side and they'll certainly go up this year and I can see them being back in the Premier League in the next few years."

Guardian 3/2/10
Jermain Defoe's hat-trick brings battling Leeds United's run to an end
Harry Polkey
Beating Hartlepool away next Saturday is, in the greater scheme of things, more important to Leeds United than knocking Tottenham Hotspur out of the FA Cup, but no-one who saw this hugely committed and at times frantic cup tie could accuse the United players of harbouring their resources. As at Manchester United in the third round, and 10 days ago at White Hart Lane, the Yorkshire side produced a performance which both belied their League One status and suggested that if they do not get promoted this season, something at Elland Road will have gone very wrong.
After all, they are not going to come up against finishers of the quality of Jermain Defoe, whose hat-trick was his third of the season. The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, suggested afterwards that the England striker could have scored six and Bolton, their opponents in the next round, will be wary. But United created plenty of chances, and the result was in doubt until Defoe's third, deep into stoppage time.
Despite their insistence that the pressure was on their opponents, there was scope for the Leeds players to be nervous in front of an impressively raucous full house of more than 38,000. It did not take long for the underdogs to settle, however. Picked out by Michael Doyle, Jonny Howson curled a neat shot 18 inches over the bar, rather closer to the target than S├ębastien Bassong's side-footed volley at the other end soon afterwards. On a pitch still greasy after an hour or so of wet snow before kick-off, the pace in the opening period was unrelenting.
Defoe was the next to go close, driving just wide from 18 yards, but again Leeds responded. Leigh Bromby's looping cross should have been an easy gather for Heurelho Gomes inside his own six-yard box, but Jermaine Beckford's remarkable spring saw the striker, who has already scored 24 goals this season, get his forehead above the Spurs goalkeeper's reaching hands. Somehow the ball came back off the bar.
If Gomes was unconvincing, his opposite number, Casper Ankergren, was at his best when Defoe beat the offside trap, getting enough on the shot to divert it wide. The Danish goalkeeper also had to react quickly when Bromby's accidental deflection of Gareth Bale's cross threatened to sneak in at his near post.
So well was Ankergren playing, in fact, that it took a huge slice of fortune for Spurs to beat him. There was nothing lucky about the run and pull-back with which the impressive David Bentley left Defoe free in the penalty area, but a poor first touch meant the subsequent left-foot shot was badly sliced. With Ankergren hopelessly wrong-footed, the ball drifted over Richard Naylor and inside the angle of post and bar.
Stung by the injustice, for the remainder of the half Leeds flung themselves forward. Moments before the break the pressure finally told, when Beckford's swivelling volley was saved by Gomes, but Luciano Becchio followed up to turn the ball over the line.
While lucky not to be ruled out for offside, the equaliser was nothing less than Leeds deserved after the most hectic 45 minutes of football that Spurs must have been involved in for some time, and the half-time message from Redknapp can only have been to calm down and try and impose their superior passing game. For five minutes after the restart they did exactly that, and should have retaken the lead when a sliding Peter Crouch came within inches of turning Nico Kranjcar's cross-shot past Ankergren.
Leeds did their best to up the pace, but the conviction that characterised their first-half efforts was no longer so apparent. Sensing the change Spurs began, if not to relax, to play with a little more belief, and Ankergren had to save well, first from Michael Dawson and then from a rising Bentley drive.
He was beaten shortly after the hour, only for Defoe to be ruled offside, but the tide was increasingly strong, and in the 73rd minute Leeds finally cracked. It was no great surprise that Bentley, on the right, should be the provider with a low driven cross, nor that Defoe, from close range, should provide the finishing touch.With the crowd finally quietened, the Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, turned to his bench, but the gulf in resources was obvious. Even so, only when Defoe rounded Ankergren in stoppage time could Redknapp relax. "I thought we were very good, we competed ever so well against a top, top team," said Grayson. "Now we have to try and make sure we finish the job we have started in the league. The players are disappointed now, but they should feel a lot better about themselves in the morning, they can be proud of what they have achieved so far this season."

Tuesday, February 02, 2010 2/2/10
Dear All,
It's been one of the privileges of my life so far to have played for such a world renowned, highly respected football club.
The friendships I have made, the memories I hold dear and the sheer pleasure of being a Leeds player will stay with me for a long time.
Leeds United gets under your skin (as I'm sure all you avid fans know) and there will be a part of me that will always be Leeds.
I am proud to have played a part in bridging the gap between an uncertain past and a no doubt glorious future.
Leeds fans are loud, loyal and passionate. Make no mistake, you are the lifeblood of the club and forever will be.
You were always fantastic to me and I hold that in my heart as I move on.
Thanks for everything,
David Prutton (aka Prutts, aka 'Jesus')

Monday, February 01, 2010 1/2/10
Midfielder David Prutton's Leeds United contract has been cancelled by mutual consent.
The 29-year-old joined Colchester United on loan last week and is now free to sign a permanent contract with the Us.
Prutts scored four goals in 76 appearances for the club after joining the club during the turbulent summer of 2007.
He was a regular during the tenure of Dennis Wise, but has found opportunities limited during the past 12 months and has started only two league games since Simon Grayson took over from Gary McAllister in December 2008.
Prutts' last appearance came against Accrington Stanley in the Johnstone's Paint Trophy in December and he has been an unused substitute on three occasions since, most recently at Tottenham in the FA Cup fourth round.
The United manager said: "Prutts has found opportunities limited and hopefully he will now be able to play regular football.
"He is a great character and it goes without saying that everyone connected with the club wishes Prutts all the very best for the future."

Bradford Telegraph and Argus 31/1/10
Leeds Beck in the old routine
Leeds 2 Colchester 0
Two more goals from Jermaine Beckford ended Leeds’ run of three league games without a win and five in all competitions, but chief interest centred on the impressive debuts of loan pair Gary McSheffrey and Shane Lowry.
Simon Grayson reacted to the recent blip by securing the pair on loan from Birmingham and Aston Villa respectively.
The Leeds manager was delighted with his new men’s contribution to a convincing victory which put the Elland Road side back on course for automatic promotion and boosted their confidence for the home FA Cup fourth-round replay against Tottenham on Wednesday night.
McSheffrey, who is happy playing up front or on either flank, slotted in on the left wing, while Lowry occupied the left back role until cramp forced him to be replaced by Bradley Johnson in the 71st minute.
McSheffrey lasted until the 82nd minute, when Max Gradel was sent into the fray.
Gradel, Lowry and McSheffrey are ineligible for the FA Cup replay, but Grayson says he intends using the squad system between now and the end of the season to cope with fixture congestion.
Lowry, a 20-year-old Australian who has turned out for the Republic of Ireland Under-21s but wants future international appearances to be for the country of his birth, is on loan until March 13. He looked comfortable in a defence which did an excellent job in shutting out Colchester, who had beaten MK Dons 2-0 in midweek.
McSheffrey, 27, is much better known, of course, having cost Birmingham £4million from Coventry in 2006, and he left the field to a standing ovation as well as taking the sponsors’ man of the match champagne.
He would have marked his debut with a goal had Beckford not inadvertently blocked the winger’s apparently goal-bound volley, the ball looping over the bar.
McSheffrey joked: “Jermaine was their best player today and a good goalkeeper! I caught it well and just wanted to see that net ripple but I am sure my first goal will come.”
McSheffrey added: “It was nice to get a game and it was a good performance from the lads. It wasn’t the prettiest of games but we did what we had to do. In the second half the game settled a bit and we played some good stuff, created some good chances and deserved the win.
“I haven’t had much football lately but I felt good. The manager was being cautious and 80 minutes or so was fine for my first game in a while. I thought our defence was magnificent – the centre halves were bang-on.
“From what I’ve seen so far, Leeds can definitely stay up there and win promotion. There’s good competition for places too. Neil Kilkenny missed the game injured but I played with him at Birmingham and he’s a good little player.
“For the first 20 minutes I wondered what I had done coming here because I never saw the ball – it was in the air so long – but this move is huge for me. It is no secret that I had tendonitis in my knee last season and had an operation to cure it in April. This season I’ve been fine, I haven’t missed a training session and need to get myself back in the shop window.
“For a player as hungry and determined as I am it is massive to get back in the mix and make a name for myself. Initially I am on loan until the end of the season and we will take it from there. I would love to score some goals and help Leeds clinch promotion. That’s the short term aim, then we’ll see what the summer brings.
“My contract at Birmingham is up in the summer but they have a two-year option. Sitting on the bench at Birmingham, albeit in the Premier League, is not good for me.
“If Leeds secure promotion this year there would be no better club to be with at Championship level because the manager has the backing of the board and chairman to make improvements by bringing in good players for the Championship who could kick on from there.
“People see I’ve played nine times for Birmingham this season but most of those were from the bench, so it has been frustrating. I would rather be at a club like this and be a big part of the plans, striving for promotion from this league and from the Championship than being a part-time player at a big Premiership club. I just want to be playing.
“It was a gamble and a risk coming to League One but if most games turn out like today’s it will be a risk worth taking.”
Beckford, an injury-time penalty hero in the first game at Tottenham, was on target from the spot again in the 38th minute when former Leeds defender Matt Heath brought down Luciano Becchio. By then Colchester had seen two of their own penalty claims rejected for ‘offences’ by Lubo Michalik but ten minutes after the break, Jonny Howson chested down a high ball from Robert Snodgrass, shot against a post and Beckford was in the right place at the right time to collect his 24th goal of the season.

ITV 31/1/10
Grayson lauds Leeds show
Leeds boss Simon Grayson hailed his side's performance after they ended a winless run of five games in all competitions with a 2-0 victory over Colchester.
Jermaine Beckford struck twice to take his goal tally for the season to 24 as United sank their promotion rivals at Elland Road, but Grayson was equally as happy with the clean sheet.
"We defended really well as a team. We looked very hard to beat and were resilient, restricting them to very few chances," said Grayson. "I expected that reaction because the players were disappointed and wounded by the defeat at Swindon in midweek."
He added: "It will be a different game against Spurs [in the FA Cup replay] because they won't be as direct at Colchester and will play the ball around more. We will go into Wednesday's replay still as underdogs but with nothing to lose. If we can beat Tottenham it will give us a major psychological boost because they are a top team."
Grayson handed debuts to Gary McSheffrey and Shane Lowry and the loan signings slotted in smoothly before the latter limped off with cramp 19 minutes from time.
"I was pleased with both of them, especially as they only trained with us on Friday," added Grayson.