Saturday, November 27, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 26/11/10
Safety is our first target – Grayson
Simon Grayson today insisted he would not give serious thought to whether Leeds United can sustain a push towards the play-offs until his team have secured Championship survival.The Whites boss claimed the majority of clubs in the division were still credible contenders for a top-six finish with 18 games played and a bottleneck of clubs behind his own in a congested league table.
Leeds will meet one of them, Brian McDermott's Reading, at the Madejski Stadium tomorrow and the Elland Road club are defending a top-six position after holding on to fifth with a 1-1 draw at Norwich City last weekend.
United are more than halfway towards achieving the total of points likely to be needed to protect them from relegation in May, but their manager is not ready to assess the likelihood of Leeds maintaining their current standing, despite a five-game unbeaten run and the surge in momentum behind his squad.
"I'll think about that when we've got the points we need to stay up," Grayson declared. "I'm not going to think about it until we're mathematically safe from dropping out of the league.
"Three-quarters of the division will still think they can achieve promotion, automatically or via the play-offs.
"But it's not as if we're struggling in the division or failing to come to terms with it. Far from it. If that was the case we'd be near the bottom and asking how we're going to get out of trouble.
"We've adjusted well and we're playing some decent football. We've proved that we can win home and away, against teams at the top of the table and teams at the bottom, so we've got an opportunity. But we'll need to maintain this level of performances."
United's league position has recovered rapidly in the past month after a succession of poor results in October pulled the club into the bottom half of the Championship.
Leeds are three points better off than Reading with 28 to their name, and Grayson promised to send his side out at the Madejski Stadium with the same attacking strategy employed at Norwich last Saturday. But he also warned that the discipline of his players would be crucial as they attempt to negate a key threat in Reading's side, former Leeds defender Ian Harte.
The full-back is fighting to overcome a hip injury in time to start tomorrow's game but Grayson is keenly aware of the threat that Harte might pose from set-pieces if his players give the Irishman the opportunity to attack their goal.
Harte has scored six times already this season, and Grayson said: "He's probably one of the best free-kick takers around. He always has been.
"We need to make sure we don't give away needless free-kicks or present him with any opportunities. If we can keep him 30 or 40 yards from goal then that will limit his ability to do anything with set-pieces. He's an expert."
Yorkshire Evening Post 25/11/10
Leeds United keen on O'Brien deal – Bates
By Phil Hay
Leeds United have secured the short-term future of Bolton Wanderers defender Andy O'Brien – and the club will push for a longer deal when the transfer window opens in January.
United erased concern about the possibility of O'Brien returning to the Reebok Stadium after this weekend's game at Reading by negotiating to keep the influential centre-back at Elland Road until the turn of the year.
O'Brien's initial month's loan was due to end on Saturday but Leeds were anxious to retain an experience player who has contributed significantly to their impressive league form during his four-week spell in West Yorkshire. An extension with Bolton until January was set to be signed today.
The 31-year-old came to Leeds on October 29 with the club toiling at the end of a run of four defeats from five Championship games, but his arrival coincided with the start of a five-match unbeaten run and United manager Simon Grayson last week confirmed his intention to retain a key member of his improving defence.Bolton boss Owen Coyle previously implied that he would recall O'Brien after his first month with Leeds but the former Bradford City player had little involvement in Wanderers' Premier League season prior to joining United, and he is likely to leave Bolton permanently in the near future with his contract set to expire at the end of this season.
Leeds have guaranteed his services until after their visit to Cardiff City on January 4 but chairman Ken Bates said the club were likely to approach Bolton again in the new year with a view to keeping O'Brien at Elland Road for the second half of the Championship term.
Bates said: "I'm very happy to say that we've got an agreement with Bolton to extend his loan until January. Then we'll hopefully talk to Bolton again to see if we can keep him for longer.
"He's been a great figure in the defence and he hasn't been on a losing side. He and Leeds are going the same way."
O'Brien's appearance at Norwich City last Saturday was his fifth for Leeds, and the club have collected 11 points during his recent loan, rising to fifth position in the Championship in the process.
Grayson made no secret of his desire to keep O'Brien and left-back George McCartney, whose loan from Sunderland is reaching the end of its second month. Leeds are likely to follow up their bid to extend O'Brien's deal by attempting to retain McCartney until after the Christmas schedule.
Speaking last week, Grayson said: "If we can keep a settled back four then it'll play some part in getting consistency and confidence together. We want to keep good players and those two are good players."
Bates, meanwhile, has hinted that midfielder Bradley Johnson could still have a future at Elland Road if he reverses his decision to turn down a final contract offer from the club.
Johnson was placed on the transfer list by Leeds last week after failing to agree an extension to his existing deal, which runs until June.
The club do not intend to improve their proposal but asked whether Johnson could have a change of heart, Bates, above, said: "It's up to him. We've made clear our position. He rejected his final offer which was then withdrawn.
"He thinks he's worth more than we do and he has to prove to another club that he's worth the rather high valuation he's made of himself."
Johnson has been linked with both Bolton and Stoke City since turning down Leeds' offer.

Saturday, November 20, 2010 20/11/10
NORWICH 1 (Barnett 65), UNITED 1 (Gradel 13)
Manager Simon Grayson made one change to his starting line-up, recalling Luciano Becchio for Davide Somma for the clash with Norwich City.
The hosts were expecting a record Carrow Road attendance since the stadium became all-seater and United were backed by a sell-out 2,300 fans.
There was a decent atmosphere as United looked to build on an impressive away run, but it was Norwich who had the first effort on goal when Andrew Surman whipped in a free-kick and Elliott Ward headed over. Alex Bruce also made a decisive early clearance when Norwich came forward again.
In reply, during a frenetic opening few minutes, both Bradley Johnson and Jonny Howson tried their luck from distance.
United were looking to hit the home side on the counter and one early raid ended with Max Gradel winning a corner which was cleared.
Leeds had some defending to do, but both Bruce and Andy O'Brien were looking assured, and with Neil Kilkenny and Johnson offering additional protection, the formation allowed Leeds to move the ball upfield quickly.
And Grayson's men were in front after 12 minutes, courtesy of Gradel. Becchio was hacked down by Leon Barnett on the edge of the box, but the referee played advantage and Gradel tucked the ball beneath John Ruddy.
United were playing some good football and were pegging Norwich back. The movement was excellent and the home side were chasing shadows for a period.
Play was held up in the 23rd minute after Bruce received lengthy treatment following a challenge on Grant Holt which saw him handed a yellow card. Chris Martin took the resultant free-kick, but Schmeichel was able to smother his shot.
United responded by carving out another opening, but no one was on hand to convert Gradel's cross.
At the other end, Andrew Crofts should have done better when he looked to round Schmeichel, but his touch was poor.
And United immediately broke again, Robert Snodgrass having a shot blocked amid calls for handball.
It was certainly proving to be an entertaining clash, and United were working hard at both ends of the pitch. Another reward almost came United's way on 34 minutes, but Ruddy got just enough on a goalbound shot from Gradel to tip it over the bar.
It was an excellent performance from a Leeds side who were pressing to make their advantage count by scoring a second goal before half-time.
Gradel had a shot blocked, Jonny Howson, playing almost as a second striker, nearly walked his way to goal, Becchio headed wide, and Bruce couldn't get past Ward when he looked to meet a Howson flick-on.
United went in at the break on the back of one of the best first half performances of the season, the only frustration being that a second goal couldn't be added before the interval.
Norwich had to come out of the blocks at the start of the second half, and Crofts wasted the opportunity to tee up Grant Holt after a quickly taken free-kick.
Bruce also made a good block to deny the Norwich front man, and as the bal was put back into the box, Holt headed against of the upright.
At the other end, Simon Lappin headed away a cross as Leeds pressed, but it was United who were having to do the early defending, and Schmeichel made a good save to deny Chris Martin.
Grayson's men were still looking dangerous on the break, though, as Norwich's urgency threatened to leave spaces at the back for United to profit from.
But Norwich were back on level terms on 65 minutes in controversial fashion, Barnett headed home a David Fox corner, but Schmeichel was clearly felled as the corner was taken, although the match officials failed to see the incident.
That was the cue for United to open up again and within moments, Ruddy flapped at a cross from George McCartney and Norwich had to scramble the ball clear.
Robert Snodgrass also weaved his way into the box, looking to set up Howson, and another Gradel delivery had to be cleared.
United also won a series of corners, the third of which saw O'Brien battling for the ball as Ruddy flapped again.
United had more grounds for complaint when McCartney was adjudged to have committed a foul on the edge of the box, despite appearing to win the ball cleanly, and Bruce had to be alert to deny Barnett once again.
Bruce was excellent at the back and Schmeichel had another save to make when he got down well to deny Ward.
Moments later Kilkenny made a fantastic run to block off Simeon Jackson who was looking to beat Schmeichel to the ball.
The pressure was Norwich's now, but Leeds were defending well. and were also still looking to exploit opportunities.
The lead was almost regained by Snodgrass in spectacular fashion when he tried his luck from distance with an effort which looped just wide.
Then, Bruce headed clear again at the other end when under pressure from Holt. Schmeichel also saved well from Ward before Crofts fired wide.Four minutes of added time gave both sides hope, but neither could find a winner as Leeds left Carrow Road with a hard fought point.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

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Leeds United in Panto

When Jimmy Armfield took over an ailing Leeds side in 1974, only one thing could get them back on track: a pantomime
Four Four Two feature from January 2009 - Steve Anglesey

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Terry Hibbitt – A wayward genius

Frail of build and bandy of leg, Hibbitt was no classic athlete, but he was an outstanding midfielder, playing cultured and intelligent football. He possessed a great range of passing skills and an inspired feel for the through ball

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Don Weston – Wing heeled wonder

Weston was one of the fastest players ever to play for Leeds United, signed by Don Revie as a replacement for John Charles in 1962 and spearheading their Second Division title win in 1964

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Plus thumbnail autobiographies of United players from the 60s

Brian Wilson (goalkeeper) 1962-66

Bobby Sibbald (full-back) 1963-69

Rod Johnson (forward) 1962-68

Barrie Wright (full-back) 1962-66

Ian Lawson (forward) 1962-65

Mike Addy (wing-half) 1962-64

Saturday, November 13, 2010
UNITED 3 (Becchio 65, 69, 83), BRISTOL CITY 1 (Stead 67)
United manager Simon Grayson made one change from the side which drew with Hull in midweek, striker Davide Somma replacing Luciano Becchio.
Somma, who was due to join up with the South African squad after the game, was an early threat. First he put David James under pressure when in pursuit of a Neil Kilkenny pass and moments later he tested the former England goalkeeper after good work by Jonny Howson.
Max Gradel was an early threat in and around the box while Bradley Johnson also had a shot deflected for a corner as Leeds started the contest firmly on the front foot.
In between, City's first real raid ended with Kasper Schmeichel receiving treatment after Jon Stead looked to meet a Danny Haynes cross.
James came to the visitors rescue before the half-hour when Louis Carey almost turned a Snodgrass cross into his own goal. As City returned the ball forward quickly, Schmeichel had to save well from Stead.
It was an entertaining opening half with Leeds having the better of the half-chances and oportunities that fell at both ends of the pitch.
United started the second period brightly, but the visitors were defending deep and in numbers and were content for Leeds to play around them.
When United did force an opening, Somma looking to capitalise on some decent passing play, James spread himself well to deny the striker.
On 61 minutes, Grayson looked to freshen things up a little, and he introduced Becchio and Lloyd Sam to proceedings.
And it was a substitution that paid dividends within five minutes. Snodgrass delivered a cross from the right and Becchio got up well to head home.
Within two minutes the visitors were level though. Albert Adomah delivered a cross from the right and Stead arrived at the near post to convert.
United responded by attacking straight from the re-start and there appeared to be a good penalty shout when Sam was caught up in a tangle with Nicky Hunt.
But Sam was involved a moment later as United took the lead again. His shot was saved by James, but Becchio arrived to convert the rebound.
Bristol City responded with a couple of raids, but it was 3-1 and game over on 83 minutes when Becchio headed home a George McCartney cross to complete his hat-trick.
The third goal had effectively sealed the game for Leeds as Simon Grayson's men were able to cruise their way towards a first home victory since September 23 when Sheffield United were beaten at Elland Road.
Schmeichel did have a save to make in stoppage time when he tipped a Steven Caulker header over the bar, and he also saved well from Brett Pitman, but the two-goal cushion was enough to see Leeds to a third victory in four games.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 10/11/10
Mixed night for Whites midfielder Johnson
By Phil Hay
Bradley Johnson might feel the need to prove his value to Leeds United with contract talks between him and his club some way from a successful conclusion.
The own goal he scored at Elland Road last night was no way to sell himself.
The midfielder gave Leeds the sniff of a win over Hull City with his third goal of the season but ended a lively Yorkshire derby with the unkind distinction of beating both goalkeepers. His sliced clearance on 82 minutes was the defining moment on an evening of ever-shifting momentum.
United trailed for 20 minutes of the first half but had victory within their grasp in the final throes of the match, handed to them by an Andy O'Brien header. But Johnson's woeful flick from Tom Cairney's corner, carrying the ball past Kasper Schmeichel, reprieved a Hull team who were starting to flag with 10 men and precious little time to salvage a draw.
City's first goalscorer, John Bostock, soured his own appearance with a red card deep into the second half but the players he left behind conjured an equaliser from nothing, helped by Johnson's foot. A goalline clearance from Leroy Rosenior denied Alex Bruce a decisive third goal at the death.
Minor though the consolation will seem, the draw achieved one aim by marginally improving United's unusually weak record at home. Three defeats at Elland Road preceded their derby with Hull and Johnson and O'Brien prevented that sequence from extending any further.
Four years have passed since Leeds endured such a poor run; eight since the club lost four home fixtures in succession. If not quite a complex, their results at Elland Road were becoming a hindrance.
The majestic strike from Bostock which drew first blood threatened to subject another sizeable crowd to a familiarly miserable evening but Leeds fought back with calm perseverance, encouraged by a profitable spell away from home.
Three victories in succession, following wins at Scunthorpe United and Coventry City, would have spoken highly of Leeds' resurgence since their minor crisis towards the end of October, but the completion of three league games without defeat is progress in the eyes of Grayson, a manager for whom consistency has been elusive. It made a change for him to reflect on something other than a loss at Elland Road last night.
Johnson was asked to start after a minor hamstring strain accounted for Amdy Faye. The Senegalese international missed training on Monday and failed to persuade Grayson of his fitness yesterday. Max Gradel was cleared to play, despite a similar injury.
Johnson took Faye's place in the centre of midfielder but the most substantial changes were made to Grayson's defence, where Bruce and Neill Collins traded places once more. The former stepped in to partner centre-back O'Brien and the latter dropped to the bench.
Collins' demotion was as harsh as Bruce's had been at Coventry City on Saturday but there was never any doubt about Grayson's plan to recall Schmeichel from his baby-induced absence. The safe hands required by the Dane over the weekend were put to more familiar use at Elland Road.
For 14 minutes, he was shielded from a Hull attack which comprised of Richard Garcia, the sole prong in a protective formation used by Nigel Pearson. But City's first shot brought their first goal, scored in fabulous fashion by Bostock.The midfielder, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur, attacked a free-kick 30 yards from goal, swerving the ball across Schmeichel and into the top corner of his net.
A meagre wall constructed on the edge of Leeds' box carried some of the blame, as did Johnson for the aggressive tackle on Bostock which gave the midfielder his chance and might have merited a yellow card. Elland Road, for all that, has seen few finishes as sublime this season.
Grayson could not claim to have sensed it coming. His side pressed City initially, and James Harper was called upon to clip the ball away from Jonathan Howson's feet before United's captain could score for the third successive game, but the onus to attack which Grayson spoke off before the game was heightened by Bostock's goal.
To his frustration, his players found Hull as organised and rigid as their defensive record implied. Becchio failed to apply an effective touch to Paul Connolly's cross on one of several of occasions when Leeds' right-back found space on the wing, and Howson's fluency was lacking when Becchio laid a Connolly pass back towards Hull's 18-yard line on the half-hour. Howson's scuffed shot dragged the ball wide.Yet Hull's defending it was which invited Leeds' equaliser in the 33rd minute. A weak headed clearance from Anthony Gerrard handed possession to Becchio who knocked the ball along the edge of the box. Johnson, his left foot is as vicious as Bostock's, dispatched it without thinking twice, low to the left of Matt Duke.
The scoreline forced Hull to be less economical with their attacks and Bruce earned his selection four minutes later by clearing the ball off Schmeichel's exposed goalline. Kevin Kilbane's cross caught Grayson's defence stretched and ran to Bostock at the far post but Bruce stood up to his shot, turning it behind.
Grayson held his breath again when Ian Ashbee, Hull's captain, met the resulting corner with his head and nodded it past Schmeichel's left-hand post. Ashbee appealed hopefully for handball but knew he should have buried the chance. Hull's discipline wavered towards the end of the first half as Bostock and Kilbane earned cautions for loose tackles and James Harper received one for needlessly deflecting the ball with his arm. Bostock would later pay for his. The draw City were heading for also came under pressure with the interval behind them.
Howson lashed a shot into the side netting after Snodgrass corner' bounced through Duke's six-yard box and Becchio curled the ball against City's bar in the 55th minute, a clever effort from outside the area.
Davide Somma, who signed a three-year contract with Leeds on the morning of yesterday's game, stepped off the bench with little over 20 minutes remaining but stood back as O'Brien, a more unlikely source, supplied United's second goal with a header which flicked Duke's right-hand post.
Johnson should have scored again soon after but Bostock's second booking and subsequent red card for fouling George McCartney seemed to have the same, match-killing effect. To the bewilderment of Elland Road, Johnson turned Cairney's delivery into his own net and rescued Hull with eight minutes to play. 9/11/10
UNITED 2 (Johnson 32, O'Brien 71), HULL 2 (Bostock 14, Harper 82)
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson made three changes from the side which won 3-2 at Coventry on Saturday. Kasper Schmeichel returned in place of Jason Brown, Bradley Johnson came in for the injured Amdy Faye, and Alex Bruce was recalled for Neill Collins, who dropped to the bench.
United fashioned out the first opening of the game and in similar fashion to the first goal at Coventry, Robert Snodgrass supplied a good delivery into the box which was scrambled clear from an advancing Jonny Howson.
But it was Hull who drew first blood in the 14th minute with a powerful free-kick from Jon Bostock. The on-loan Tottenham youngster unleashed a stunning left foot strike from outside of the box leaving Schmeichel with no chance.
The opening goal was the only meaningful shot of what was a tense opening period. Both sides enjoyed possession, but while Leeds showed more purpose, it wasn't until Howson rounded off a good passing move by screwing a shot wide that United found a half-chance.
But United were deservedly level on minutes when some good pressing paid off and Johnson produced a greaty first time strike from just inside the box to make it 1-1.
Hull had offered little in the way of a threat, but Alex Bruce was called upon to hack a Bostock clear after a cross was scuffed across goal to set the loan man up with a decent chance.
Moments later, Snodgrass headed a Gradel cross over the top as Leeds threatened again. United continued to press again leading up to half-time, Gradel was prving a handful, and there were appeals for a penalty when Ian Ashbee appeared to handle a bouncing ball inside the box.
The half came to a close with a couple of bookings for Hull and flurry of free-kicks as Leeds went in at the break well-placed.
United were looking to end a run of three successive defeats on home soil and Grayson's men started the second period in positive fashion. Howson fired into the side netting from a tight angle on 51 minutes after a Gradel corner was headed across goal.
Becchio was next to go close when he hit the bar with a dipping shot after good work by Gradel and Johnson as Leeds continued to peg Hull back.
United were dominating by the midway stage of the second half and the visitors were defending deeper in numbers as Leeds played the ball around. Grayson also made his first change with just over 20 minutes remaining when he introduced Davide Somma in place of Gradel.
And Leeds were soon in front, courtesy of central defender Andy O'Brien. Snodgrass delivered a cross from the right and O'Brien got up wel to head beyond Matt Duke.
The lead was fully deserved with Leeds turning a best Elland Road performance since early September, and there was some frustration from the visitors when Becchio needed treatment after a clash with Ashbee.
Once play resumed, with a corner kick, Johnson headed wide from close range.
With 12 minutes left on the clock, Hull were reduced to 10 men when Bostock was given a second yellow card following a challenge from behind on the impressive McCartney.
But disaster struck on 82 minutes when a corner was swung in from the Hull right and both Johnson and James Harper swung their legs at it, and the connection was enough to send the ball past Schmeichel.
It was an unfortunate goal to concede after a second half which Leeds had dominated, but Grayson's men continued to press. In the final minute,. Bruce had a flying header cleared off the line by Liam Rosenior before Becchio smashed the rebound over the top.Four minutes of injury time, a first Elland Road introduction for Billy Paynter, and a near 25,000 crowd urged Leeds on - but the winner United deserved didn't come as Grayson's men had to be content with a point.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

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2009/10 Cup exploits

Matches - 3/2/2010 - Leeds United 1 Tottenham Hotspur 3

It's FA Cup night at Elland Road as a memorable run continues - Jermain Defoe missed a host of golden opportunities but Leeds emerged with credit despite a hat trick from the England striker

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Matches - 23/1/2010 - Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leeds United 2

The reward for the breathtaking third round victory at Old Trafford was a trip to another Premier League ground in the next round - Tottenham were the hosts in a game that was even more dramatic than its predecessor

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Matches - 3/1/2010 - Manchester United 0 Leeds United 1

29 years of hurt up in a puff of smoke as League One Leeds go to the Theatre of Dreams and inflict humiliation on Sir Alex Ferguson and his Champions League winners - "We're not famous any more!"

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Matches - 22/9/2009 - Leeds United 0 Liverpool 1

The glory days were back as United welcomed Premier League giants Liverpool to Elland Road for a Carling Cup-tie. They did themselves proud and were unlucky to see a goal chalked off for offside

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Saturday, November 06, 2010

Daily Mail 6/11/10
Coventry 2 Leeds 3: Robert Snodgrass making up for lost time
Robert Snodgrass stole the show as Leeds recorded back-to-back wins with a thrilling 3-2 success at Coventry.
The Scottish playmaker, regaining top form after an injury that ruled him out of the first seven weeks of the season, laid on an opener for the in-form Jonny Howson before netting a wonderful solo second.
Fourth-placed Coventry hit back after the break through Lukas Jutkiewicz and, although Max Gradel's penalty was quickly cancelled out by Ben Turner's goal to set up a tense finish, Leeds held on to build on last weekend's 4-1 win at Scunthorpe.
Howson scored a hat-trick that day and although he was again impressive, Snodgrass stole the show with a fine exhibition of wing play that had the Coventry defenders bedazzled all afternoon. Leeds' preparations were disrupted when goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel withdrew from the side on Friday night to be at the birth of his son, while Coventry were unchanged following their win at Sheffield United last weekend.
Schmeichel's absence did not hinder Leeds in the early stages, though, and they took the lead four minutes in through Howson.
George McCartney's cross from the left evaded everyone and found its way to Snodgrass at the back post, allowing the Scot to stand the ball up for the incoming Howson who planted a header beyond Keiren Westwood.
Neil Kilkenny then drove just wide as Leeds impressed and Coventry were fortunate to see another dangerous cross from Snodgrass fizz across their goal.
Jutkiewicz tried to get Coventry going with a header and a shot that inched wide, while Paul Connolly did well to get his body in the way of a goal-bound drive from former Leeds loanee Gary McSheffrey.
Howson could have doused the home side's fire had he directed a second header off another Snodgrass centre on target when he found himself free in the box, and the winger felt he should have been awarded a 28th-minute penalty when he went down under Martin Cranie's challenge, but referee Keith Stroud waved away his protests.
Jutkiewicz passed up a golden opportunity 10 minutes before the break as he found himself one-on-one with Jason Brown, only to allow Connolly to close his space and force him to shoot wide.
Snodgrass had been the game's star performer, though, and he deservedly doubled his side's advantage after 40 minutes, cutting in from the right and curling home a stunning 20-yard strike that gave Westwood no chance.
Coventry did have chances to reduce the deficit before the break, but Jutkiewicz was denied by Neill Collins before Brown held a Richard Wood bullet on his line.
Former Everton striker Jutkiewicz had been his side's best outlet all afternoon and it was he that gave them a lifeline in the 52nd minute with his fourth of the season.
With McCartney off the field injured, McSheffrey whipped in a cross that Turner nodded back across goal for the waiting Jutkiewicz.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson was unhappy that McCartney had not been allowed back on to the field in time and he and his coaching staff jostled with the Coventry bench in the aftermath.
It was soon Coventry's turn to complain as a penalty was awarded for a Richard Keogh's foul on Gradel, but their claims were without justification and the Ivorian winger dusted himself down to slot home from the spot (61).
But Leeds were as fallible in defence as they were lively in attack, and Coventry were back to within a goal just three minutes later as Turner prodded home a loose ball in the visiting area.
Turner was quickly proving his worth at his own end just after that, getting back to dive in the way of Luciano Becchio's effort which was destined for the goal after he had broke free and rounded Westwood. Coventry laid siege to the Leeds goal for the remaining 26 minutes but, apart from a Wood header that Brown saved, they were unable to find a way to goal.
Yorkshire Evening Post 1/11/10
Howson hat-trick inspires Whites
It is a little-known fact that Jonny Howson was an aspiring striker in his academy years.
Nothing in the 22-year-old's resume speaks of a pronounced talent for scoring goals.
Only when Leeds United's first team began to beckon did the club rebrand Howson as a central midfielder, the position with which he is synonymous at Elland Road and from where his goals were liable to be limited.
Five-a-season is Howson's average but that diminutive total belies his uncanny sense of timing. A first career hat-trick, scored against Scunthorpe United on Saturday, was four years and 169 appearances in the making; worth the wait for a club who needed inspiration and a shot in their arm.
Howson's finishing touch – a get-out clause invoked by Leeds at crucial junctures of previous seasons – came to the fore in the second half at Glanford Park, delivering three goals in 15 minutes and winning decisively a game which was less clear-cut than the scoreline.
"He played like a captain today," said United manager Simon Grayson, complimenting a player who carried the armband with distinction.
Howson soaked up the attention after full-time with his usual modesty, mulling over a hat-trick which veteran members of the press corps described as "classic" – compiled with each foot and with his head. But Saturday, like several of his past conquests, was an afternoon when the collective effect of Howson's brilliance obscured his personal satisfaction.
United were some way short of must-win territory in Scunthorpe but the distance between the club and stony ground had shortened during the weeks of October.
As self-assured as he sounded, Grayson appreciated that defeat at Glanford Park would encourage vociferous voices outside his dressing room to grow in number. "We needed a win," he said, without admitting that the need amongst his players was unusually urgent.
United dipped their feet into the bottom half of the Championship last month and realised quickly that they ought not to do so for long. The excuse proffered after defeats to Leicester City and Cardiff City – the crux of it being that both squads were essentially better than Grayson's – would not have washed at Glanford Park, a ground where crowds and budgets equate to League One. Some expectation is impossible to argue with.
A draw would have provided United with space in which to breathe but Howson's treble made that likely outcome an improbability with 15 minutes to play, notwithstanding Grayson's maligned defence.
His goals were the product of the shift in power that occurred at half-time, the point on Saturday when a storm around Leeds threatened to gather. Scunthorpe it was who felt battered and beaten by the final whistle.
Crucial to that swinging momentum was the premature exit of Scunthorpe's David Mirfin, a smothering centre-back who for 45 minutes marked Luciano Becchio, United's lone striker, out of the game.Mirfin's foot injury forced his manager, Ian Baraclough, to call upon 19-year-old Niall Canavan immediately after half-time, and the result was akin to removing a supporting wall from a house. Howson alone saw more chances in the second half than Leeds' entire team did in the first.
For that, Grayson was also responsible, alive to the disparity between the sides. "It was made very clear to us at half-time that we'd had one corner to their seven," said Andy O'Brien, United's debutant defender. He and the players around him understood the message and began to ask questions of Scunthorpe, questions which Baraclough's team could not answer.
O'Brien's selection, a day after he moved on loan to Elland Road from Bolton Wanderers, was not even open to debate in the mind of a manager whose patience with his club's defensive record ran dry last week. But of the two centre-backs involved in a 4-0 loss to Cardiff City – Neill Collins and Alex Bruce – it was not entirely logical that Collins would be the player asked to make way. Grayson preferred to give Bruce the benefit of the doubt.
Partially culpable for Cardiff's first goal, Bruce relied on O'Brien's anticipation to spare him an own goal in the second minute at Glanford Park, a concession for which a mis-hit clearance by Kasper Schmeichel would have carried more blame.
The anxiety persisted until the interval but lifted eventually, dispersed by O'Brien's strength and defensive nous and the continuity provided by the extension of George McCartney's loan from Sunderland. Grayson might at last have the basis of a settled back four.
O'Brien's first act was his most crucial, hacking the ball away from United's goal after Scunthorpe returned Schmeichel's weak kick with interest. Bruce slid in to dispossess Chris Dagnall inside the box but chipped the ball over his keeper's diving body and towards his net. By then, Grayson was already grateful for O'Brien's presence.
The early exchanges continued in that nervous vein but Howson gave a hint at his pro-active mood when, against the run of seven minutes' play, he cut open Scunthorpe's defence with a slick through-ball. Max Gradel anticipated it by sprinting past Cliff Byrne and slipped a low shot to the right of Scunthorpe goalkeeper Tony Warner.
Gradel's selection was one of three changes to Grayson's team, named as part of a five-man midfield that also included Neil Kilkenny and left Becchio isolated up front. It was not until Grayson dispensed with Amdy Faye and introduced Bradley Johnson in the 55th minute that United's intensity became overwhelming but the involvement of Gradel made use of a player whose claim to a starting position has gained strength in the past month.
Either side of his goal, pressure weighed on Leeds. It told in the 27th minute when Byrne climbed above O'Brien to head Michael O'Connor's corner through the right hand of Schmeichel and into the corner of his net. As a sum of their first-half performance, Scunthorpe had reason to feel that one goal was a modest return.
But Mirfin made way at half-time and Faye followed before the second half had taken shape, allowing Howson to drift forward and throttle Scunthorpe.
Carlisle United and Bristol Rovers can sympathise with Baraclough's players, prior victims of Howson's goals. His first on the hour was sublime, struck across Warner with his left foot after Michael Raynes failed to intercept Paul Connolly's cross.
Twice Scunthorpe threatened to reply as Schmeichel pushed Sears' shot over his crossbar and watched Canavan send a dropping corner in the same direction, but their defence was strewn across the field when Howson met Gradel's deep cross and headed it into the roof of Warner's net.
No sooner had the keeper fished the ball out than Howson was meeting Becchio's pass with a cultured shot from the edge of the box, curled home with his right boot and the help of a post.
"The way we collapsed was like a deck of cards," said Byrne.
Howson was asked later whether the performance was the best of his career. "That's for you to decide," he said with a smile.
A week earlier, United's vice-captain cut a sterner figure while taking it upon himself to comment defensively and eloquently about the club's worsening form. He is maturing as a spokesman but still more comfortable talking with his feet. 30/10/10
SCUNTHORPE 1 (Byrne 27), LEEDS UNITED 4 (Gradel 8, Howson 60, 73, 75)
United manager Simon Grayson handed a debut to loan man Andy O'Brien and recalled Neil Kilkenny and Max Gradel for the trip to Scunthorpe United.
And it was O'Brien who was called upon inside the first minute with his first touch in a Leeds shirt being to deny a certain goal after Alex Bruce got a touch on a ball over the top.
O'Brien looked assured in the matter of a few minutes after he made another important challenge on a goalbound Charlie Dagnall.
But it was United who were in front inside eight minutes. Jonny Howson was the provider with a great ball forward and Gradel siezed to steer the ball wide of Tony Warner.
It was a well-worked goal with a good finish and was just the confidence boost United after picking up successive league defeats.
The opening exchanges were also littered with free-kicks, and there was a suggestion that the game could be quite feisty.
Scunthorpe were without a home win since August and they started with plenty of ball, despite Leeds taking the lead, and Kasper Schmeichel had to act quickly to clear one corner after some good defending.
The United keeper also reacted well to smother one incisive pass forward, but for all Scunthorpe's possession, Leeds looked fairly comfortable.
Scunthorpe's West Ham loan man Freddie Sears did escape down the left, but his powerful ball into the box neither threatened the goal nor found a team-mate.
The home side were level in the 27th minute though. Michael O'Connor sent over a corner and Cliff Byrne got up well at the far post to plant a header in the top corner.
While the home side had responded to the first goal, Leeds responded to the equaliser by looking to apply some pressure. Shortly after the half-hour, Warner was called upon to save a Robert Snodgrass free-kick.
Warner also had to react well to punch clear an Amdy Faye header following a corner.
It was honours even at the break and the game was finely balanced going into the second period.
Gradel felt he had early claims for a penalty when he took a tumble in the box, but referee Russell Booth saw no foul and allowed play to continue.
Neil Kilkenny tried his luck from distance with a shot which was just over the top and Leeds started the second period with purpose.
Ten minutes into the second period, Grayson made his first change, introducing Bradley Johnson for Faye.
And it was 2-1 on the hour. Paul Connolly sent over a cross from the right, Scunthorpe failed to clear in the box, and Jonny Howson arrived unmarked to smash the ball home.
Howson almost made it 3-1 moments later, but on this occasion another well struck effort was saved by Warner before being scrambled clear. The United midfielder was revelling in an advanced role and he tested Warner again on 66 minutes.
United were enjoying the best spell of pressure in the game and were slowly beginning to take a grip on the contest, much to the frustration of the home support.
But Sears fired a proper warning shot when Schmeichel had to tip over a strike from distance after the on-loan youngster fashioned himself an opportunity to shoot. From the second corner, substitute Niall Canavan headed over from close range.
But Howson made no mistake at the olther end moments later to make it 3-1. The midfielder converted a Gradel cross at the far post to put Leeds in firm control.
And, almost straight from the re-start, Howson made a surging run forward to latch on to a pass just outside of the box which he smashed past Warner for his first ever professional hat-trick.
It was a storming effort and it was one which sealed the game for Leeds and sent the 2,000 plus travelling fans into raptures.
While Howson was the undoubted star of the show, special applause was given to summer signing Billy Paynter when he stepped off the subs bench to taste first team action for the first time with 10 minutes remaining.
Ramon Nunez also came off the bench and he came close to adding a fifth with another decent strike and Leeds finished the game by penning the beaten home side back. Paynter tested Warner in the dying minutes from a tight angle before the whistle blew on an impressive away success for United.
Yorkshire Evening Post 30/10/10
Whites need a win to Iron out problems - Hay
Days before the season began, I asked Leeds United's manager whether 21st position – the magic number for Championship clubs whose focus strays no further than self-preservation – struck him as an acceptable aim.
"I certainly expect us to have a better season than that," he said, wary of classing survival as worthless but admitting that, as aspirations go, it lacked imagination. Credible consolidation in his mind was a more ambitious concept.
The striking thing about Simon Grayson's rhetoric throughout the summer was the infrequency with which he spoke of the possibility of relegation. As a topic of conversation – and a natural one for a promoted club – it rarely came up.
Occasionally he would warn of the worst-case scenario, remarking once that a resumption of the wilderness years in League One would "waste a lot of seriously hard work", but he gave the impression that retaining a place in the Championship was an outcome he anticipated. Promotion was the result he could not discuss with any certainty.
The club's position in the league has hitherto made talk of relegation irrelevant. For nine weeks, they held a place in the upper half of the division, a safe distance from trouble. It spared Grayson from relevant questions about the ability of his squad to meet the standards of the Championship but questions of that nature will be unavoidable if tomorrow's game at Scunthorpe does not create breathing space.
He reflected a sense of unease on Monday night by conceding that his squad were caught in a "sticky patch". That slightly underplayed the reality of four defeats from five games, two victories from eight, and demoralising losses at regular stages of the past month. This season is in danger of losing its thread without a shot in the arm.
It is hard to recall a regular league fixture creating so apprehensive a mood as that which preceded Cardiff City's visit to Elland Road. The anxiety was not only an appreciation of the richness of Cardiff's squad but a by-product of doubts about United's ability to live with it.
Expectancy on Monday night felt unusually low, to the point of being non-existent. A month-and-a-half ago, Leeds were a team whose energy and confidence promised their opposition a game; there is now some urgency about finding their next win. For the sanity of Grayson and his dressing room, they cannot look beyond Glanford Park for it.
Grayson has himself conceded that the rationale for United's poorer results is wearing thin: that losses to Barnsley and Preston North End were freak occurrences; that Leeds were well beaten by both Cardiff and Leicester City; that basic and fundamental mistakes are undoing so much of his work. He is past the point of constructive explanations and into territory where results will speak for him.
Some time has elapsed since he was able to argue that a defeat of his side was demonstrably unlucky or ill-deserved. Derby County, on the first day of the season, stands out more than most. Losses per se do not cause tension; it is created more by the feeling that a club's losses have been merited. The strands of consolation have been limited since Bradley Johnson won a tepid derby against Sheffield United.
Both Grayson and Jonathan Howson defended the club last week in media briefings that were forthright and honest. It was pleasing to hear their passion but telling also to note that criticism of the club had become strong enough for United's manager and vice-captain to speak out against it. It was, perhaps, a first sign of pressure.
Cardiff were liable to heighten that, and the laws of chance said they would win at Elland Road and win comfortably. For all Howson's admirable protestations, Cardiff do have a stronger squad than Leeds, in more than names alone. They are the wrong choice of club by which to judge Grayson's players.
Scunthorpe, on the other hand, should inspire no awe – a club who average crowds of under 6,000 and lack any semblance of Cardiff's resources. Monday's defeat was not a sign of trouble ahead; a poor outcome at Glanford Park could be. Scunthorpe are an established Championship side and a fine example of maximised potential but their benchmark is one that Leeds should have the strength and financial capacity to exceed.
Grayson's saving grace at Elland Road has been an ability to generate results at pivotal times. The victories at Yeovil Town and at home to Bristol Rovers last season were perfect examples. A result tomorrow would be no less timely, a means of dispersing the pressure that is starting to build and clarifying the direction in which this season is heading. 29/10/10
New loan signing Andy O'Brien is hoping to make up for "lost time" after returning to the club he left 17 years ago.
The Bolton Wanderers centre-back, who was released by the club as a 14-year-old, has joined Leeds on a month's loan and brings a wealth of experience, having made almost 500 career appearances with Bradford, Newcastle, Portsmouth, and Bolton.
"I got a phone call from Owen Coyle and he said would I be interested," he said.
"I said 'yes' and now I'm here. I've not played as much football as I would have liked so I am grateful for the opportunity, both to Leeds for wanting me and to Bolton for allowing me to come here.
"Football's a cut-throat business and to get an opportunity to play at such a big club is an opportunity you have to take.
"I'd like to think it's a win-win situation for Leeds as well because I am here to be working hard for a shirt."
The Harrogate-born defender, who has commanded £4m in transfer fees during his career, has made just three appearances for Bolton this season and is keen to get a taste of regular action.
Andy says he is taking nothing for granted on arriving at Leeds, but he is joining a squad that has come under-fire from the manager for conceding too many soft goals.
"He's told me to just get on with it," said Andy.
"From my perspective I'm here for a month, and I want to do well and get a place in the team. I don't take it for granted, but I have the bit between my teeth and I want to play.
"Hopefully it may be extended, but I have to perform well and we have to get results for that to happen."
Arriving at the Thorp Arch training ground represents something of a home from home for a player who was born just down the road in Harrogate.
"I'm delighted," he said. "I have a lot of friends who are Leeds fans, and I was here when I was 14 and got released, so 17 years later I hope I get the opportunity to play.
"Paul Hart was here then and there was a very good youth team with the likes of Kewell, Woodgate, Lee Matthews, and a young lad called Andy Wrighton who I don't think came through.
"Competition was deemed too high, but it's ironic how a few years later it comes 360. Now I'm here I'm determined to make up for lost time."
That "lost time" will start at Scunthorpe on Saturday when Andy is drafted into a squad looking to arrest a run that has produced four defeats in the last five games.
"It's a hard division," he said. "I've looked at the fixtures, and the aim at the end in this division is to be in the Premier League.
"It's quite a young squad which is good because it brings a togetherness and bodes well for the future. You look at the division and within two games you can go from the Play-Offs to four or five points from relegation.
"The one beauty seems to be you get quick opportunities. If you've had a bad result by playing again a few days later."
Andy also admits he is ready for the expectation that comes with being a Leeds player, citing his perhaps under-whelming arrival at Newcastle, a club where he was to make almost 200 appearances.
"I remember at Bradford we were among the worst for goals conceded," he recalled.
"When I signed for Newcastle from there, the headline was they were signing Rivaldo. Instead I walked through the door so I know all about pressure!"But this is one of the biggest clubs I've played for so I'm looking forward to it."