Saturday, October 23, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 20/10/10
Leeds United v Leicester City: Inconsistent Whites outfoxed
By Phil Hay
Distant though it might have been, a Carling Cup tie staged in August told Leicester City that they should visit Elland Road last night expecting to win.
Likewise Preston North End's riotous victory at the same venue a month ago.
Leeds United like to think of their stadium as safe ground and, in Simon Grayson's days as manager, it has been; the scene of only six away wins in league fixtures staged there. But if Grayson feared that word of his club's fallibility was spreading, last night's reunion with Leicester confirmed his suspicions.
The display of strength he anticipated failed to materialise, and satisfactory recompense for Leeds' chaotic defeat to Preston will come at a later date.
For much of the evening, Grayson must have wondered if he was watching the same game, he cut a bewildered figure on the touchline as Leicester under the calm hand of Sven Goran Eriksson attacked United's goal fearlessly. The "unfinished business" Grayson spoke of beforehand remained incomplete once Kyle Naughton and Steve Howard confirmed Leicester's win.
The onslaught prior to Naughton's goal was so severe that Grayson's first substitution came inside half an hour, 15 minutes after Leicester had rattled the crossbar. At no point of the game did City give the impression of a team intimidated or unsettled by their surroundings, until Luciano Becchio reduced their lead to a single goal with seven minutes to play. It is not a reality that Grayson wants or likes.
Naughton's strike arrived on 64 minutes and required a deflection to carry it into the net but United's defeat was not a story of harsh misfortune, rather that of a team well beaten. Leicester at least had the guise of a more gifted team than Preston but the consolation was tenuous.
Bemusing, also, was the comparison with United's victory at Middlesbrough on Saturday. As Grayson himself remarked, the only consistent factor about his team and many others in the Championship is their thorough inconsistency. Leicester prevented Leeds from rising above it.
The injuries bothering Grayson on Monday afternoon did not prevent him from naming an unchanged line-up last night after George McCartney, Sanchez Watt and Amdy Faye were declared fit on the morning of the game.
United's organised defeat of Middlesbrough had invited continuity and Grayson was happy to embrace it once his bill of health arrived. Within minutes of the start of the game, he was wondering why he had.
Faye's involvement seemed particularly essential amid a Leicester midfield whose guile and experience made a mockery of the club's league position. It was, as the first half proved last night, a more capable midfield than that bullied by the Senegalese international at the Riverside; enough, certainly, for Eriksson to work with in the Championship.
The Swede stood where Paulo Sousa stood two months ago, on the evening of Leicester's win at Elland Road in the Carling Cup. That result – identical as it turned out – allowed Sousa's predecessor to travel to Leeds with measured confidence, in possession of a very similar squad. Any optimism he felt was well-founded.
Grayson, for his part, had failed to inspire a defeat of his former club in three previous attempts, and the docile mood of his players in the opening 10 minutes was a negative portent, contrasting with the purpose shown on Teesside. Urgings from the stands were audible before either team had broken sweat.
United were fortunate not to be trailing by three goals by the time Grayson added his voice to the flurry of complaints. Andy King slid a clever lay-off from Martyn Waghorn into the side-netting and both Waghorn and Paul Gallagher lashed volleys over Jason Brown's goal after being left unimpeded inside the box. Grayson was as unamused as the crowd.
Their combined anger grew immeasurably when Bruno Berner reacted to Robert Snodgrass losing possession by driving the ball against the underside of Brown's bar, a shot that beat the goalkeeper's desperate dive. There was no question of his shot crossing the line but every suggestion that a break in parity was coming.
It was, for a period of 20 minutes, as bad as the debacle against Preston North End, without the goals and against a more skilful team. Leicester's counter-attack which covered the length of Elland Road, ending with Brown clutching Franck Moussa's strike, epitomised their command of the pitch. The header from Neill Collins which bounced beyond Chris Weale's goal midway through the first half was blessed relief.
It was not enough, however, to restrain Grayson from a substitution before half-an-hour had passed. Watt's fitness raised doubts before kick-off but the introduction of Bradley Johnson was clearly tactical, and Grayson's consoling words to Watt as he left the field seemed to make that point. The on-loan Arsenal winger had been an unfortunate passenger.
The change allowed Faye to drop towards United's defence and fill a troublesome hole. Johnson's first act was to rise above Leicester's defence and nod McCartney's cross wide and he cleared Weale's net after meeting Luciano Becchio's lay-off on the edge of City's area. But Naylor's intervention was necessary to stop Andy King burying a shot in the last minute of the half.
Grayson needed the interval and succeeded in generating more purpose among his players. Leicester's flanks began to weakened slightly and Becchio might have scored at the end of Jonathan Howson's corner. But twice in the 62nd minute Leicester threatened Brown with lobs from King and Waghorn, the latter scraping the roof of Brown's net.
The second chance was the precursor to a goal which Leicester had been threatening all night. Naughton cut in front of Davide Somma and rode Snodgrass' tackle before attacking Brown with a shot which hit Collins and deflected into the net. City were worth their lead.Leeds, by then, had slipped into a strange formation which dangled Becchio alone up front, and Neil Kilkenny and Max Gradel took their cue from the bench with 20 minutes to play, a last throw of the dice.
But having come so far, Leicester were not inclined to give up a precious win, the likes of which they have seen infrequently and Elland Road is seeing too often. Howard's tap-in with nine minutes to play guarded it against Becchio's late reply.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus 19/10/10
Double whammy for home-sick Leeds United
By John Wray »
Leeds 1 Leicester 2
Sven Goran Eriksson toasted his first win as Leicester manager as below-par Leeds suffered their second successive home defeat.
Eriksson saw defender Kyle Naughton and substitute striker Steve Howard – who netted the late winner from the penalty spot in their Carling Cup win at Elland Road in August – score the second-half goals that gave the Foxes their first away win in the Championship.
Luciano Becchio pulled a goal back with a header but Leicester thoroughly deserved the points.
Leeds manager Simon Grayson kept the side which won at Middlesbrough, with George McCartney, Amdy Faye and Sanchez Watt passed fit shortly before the game.
Leicester could have been four goals up in the opening 15 minutes. Their running off the ball was swift and intelligent and after having a shot well saved, Andy King set up an excellent chance which Waghorn lifted over the bar.
The unmarked Paul Gallagher volleyed wide from Franck Moussa’s cut-back and Bruno Berner had a 20-yard drive palmed on to the bar by keeper Jason Brown.
Leeds had to wait until the 26th minute for their first opportunity, Neill Collins’ header passing just outside the right post.
Left winger Watt was replaced by Bradley Johnson on the half hour, with Faye dropping deeper to fill the gap between the defence and midfield.
Johnson had a licence to break forward and he had a header and a shot off target before the break but Leicester could feel much more satisfied than Leeds with their first-half performance.
Home fans in a crowd of 22,775 had a right to expect more composure from their team but there were too many hurried passes and aimless clearances.
Becchio wasn’t far off the target with a header from Jonny Howson’s corner but Leicester got the goal they deserved in the 64th minute.
Sheffield-born right back Naughton, on loan from Tottenham, shrugged off challenges by Davide Somma and Robert Snodgrass as he drifted in from the right and his shot was deflected off Collins and over keeper Brown into the net Grayson made a double substitution with 20 minutes left, Max Gradel replacing the ineffective Snodgrass while Neil Kilkenny came on for Faye.
However, Leicester broke swiftly in the 81st minute for King to release Howard, whose low shot found the far corner of the net. Leeds hit back just two minutes later, Becchio leaping above Curtis Davies to head home Gradel’s right wing cross and collect his third goal in four games.
Yorkshire Evening Post 19/10/10
Somma and Becchio are striking up top partnership
By Phil Hay
It is a compliment to the squad at Elland Road that many weeks have passed since Simon Grayson was last asked to discuss Jermaine Beckford, a striker who once seemed irreplaceable.
Grayson was questioned throughout the summer about the likely implications of losing an asset as reliable as Beckford had been, and the 26-year-old's name might easily have cast a shadow over Leeds United's season. As it is, Beckford is yet to be missed.
United's resources are not without weaknesses or their performances free of imperfections, but no issue can be taken with their reliability in front of goal. Again on Saturday, they showed themselves to be a team who know how to find the net.
Davide Somma's seventh goal of the season and Luciano Becchio's fifth claimed a 2-1 victory from a game at Middlesbrough in which United's shots on target numbered five. On only one occasion in 13 matches have the club drawn a blank, and only then because of a crossbar and an offside flag at Doncaster Rovers. It is the area of proficiency in which Leeds are most suited to the Championship.
The partnership of Becchio and Somma was a telling factor at the Riverside, and their volleys in either half decisive. Grayson was not the only person present who looked on with admiration as Somma opened the scoring and Becchio concluded it with one of the finest goals he has scored in three years with Leeds. His finish deserved to win the game.
Even comparisons with Beckford are flattering, with a quarter of the Championship season completed. Somma's record is better than Beckford's was at the same stage of the 2009-10 campaign, a season in which the latter scored 31 times; Becchio's is fractionally worse. The Argentinian was a popular choice for man-of-the-match at Middlesbrough.
"Luciano's goal was fantastic," Grayson said. "Him and Somma were very lively. They got our goals but I'm just as pleased with their work-rate and their retention of the ball. It allowed the midfield to get up and support them.
"They're a real handful at the moment and they complement each other well. They're playing with a lot of confidence which doesn't surprise me because of all the goals they've got.
"Scoring regularly is always a good trait to have and those two are backing up their ability with goals. They're causing the opposition problems and it makes my job easier – when they're scoring on a regular basis, I don't have to look for anyone else to do it."
Becchio's performance at the Riverside was typical of him, a display of tenacity and tireless aggression that yielded an exceptional goal in the second half. Somma, meanwhile, had the rare pleasure of scoring in a Leeds win having seen his previous four downgraded to consolations in defeats to Leicester City, Barnsley and Preston.
The pair were not necessarily Grayson's obvious strikeforce, particularly once Ross McCormack moved north from Cardiff City for a six-figure fee at the end of August, but they are likely to be his preferred combination for the foreseeable future. Only Jamie Mackie and Chris Iwelumo, of QPR and Burnley respectively, have bettered Somma's tally of Championship goals.
Grayson first brought the South African and Becchio together for Leeds' Carling Cup tie against Leicester at Elland Road on August 24, a night when City fought back from a goal down to win the second-round tie with goals from Richie Wellens and Steve Howard.
United did not lament their elimination at length but they would rue a repeat of that result tonight after a precious away win from Middlesbrough. Both Grayson and his Senegalese midfielder, Amdy Faye, spoke afterwards about the pressing need to establish consistency, beginning with Leicester's second visit to Elland Road. Victory at the Riverside was Leeds' second in six games.
"It's a big result because we wanted some momentum," said Grayson. "After 10 or 11 games, I wanted us to be in the top half of the division and in a good position."You need consistency in every division but even more so in the Championship. Middlesbrough's a good start."
Leicester made their first outing under Sven Goran Eriksson in a 1-1 draw with Hull City on Saturday and the former England coach has a demanding job on his hands. Relegation is a concern for Leicester, months after their appearance in the Championship play-offs, and their defence leaked 10 goals in their previous two away fixtures.
Grayson did not witness that porous tendency when Leicester won at Elland Road in August, or the crisis of form and confidence that cost Paulo Sousa his job as manager at the end of last month. How much he will draw from that contest is questionable after the change of personnel that brought Eriksson to the Walkers Stadium a fortnight ago.
Eriksson took immediate action to repair City's defence last week by signing Curtis Davies on loan from Aston Villa and Kyle Naughton on a temporary basis from Tottenham Hotspur but he has already asked the viewing public to wait until Christmas before evaluating his tenure. The Thai owners who now control Leicester would doubtless expect him to improve the club's league position much sooner than that.
City's appearance at Elland Road is the first of two home fixtures awaiting Leeds this week; Cardiff City, on account of their impressively high ranking in the Championship, are arguably the more daunting proposition. Eriksson's attacking options are meagre with Matt Fryatt serving a three-match suspension but Grayson wisely guarded against under-estimating a besieged Middlesbrough team and will promote the same message to his players.
"Leicester's a big game as well," said Grayson. "Every game in the Championship is.
"I don't think you can single out matches that are easier than others or say that because we're at home we'll win tonight. You have to look at each game in exactly the same manner."

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Leedsunited.com 16/10/10
BECCHIO SEALS BATTLING WIN AT BORO
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (Boyd 53), LEEDS 2 (Somma 12, Becchio 63)
United went into the game on the back of two defeats and Simon Grayson tweaked with his side once again, welcoming Paul Connolly back from injury and recalling Luciano Becchio to his starting line-up.
Middlesbrough were in the lower reaches with the pressure reportedly mounting on manager Gordon Strachan. Crowds have also dipped at the Riverside Stadium, but with over 4,000 visiting fans and an increased home turnout, there was a decent atmosphere.
And it was United who started brightly, Jonny Howson firing over the top from an angle inside the opening moments. George McCartney also had an effort blocked by Matthew Bates after some good build-up play.
United's early intentions were to pass the ball around while Boro were looking to play on the counter.
And Leeds were in front inside 12 minutes when Davide Somma converted a Watt cross from the left and put it beyond Jason Steele in the Boro goal. Rob Snodgrass had released Watt and referee Chris Foy played his part by allowing play to continue when the Scot was fouled.
With United settling quickly and bagging an early goal, the Boro fans were quick to start to show their frustrations, but Gary O'Neil did fire wide for the home side on 20 minutes. Kris Boyd also headed over after Mickael Tavares crossed from the right.
It wasn't until the 28th minute that Jason Brown was called upon, though, when he saved an effort from distance from Nicky Bailey.
But Leeds responded with another spell of pressure, and the home side were certainly looking nervy without the ball.
Boro created their best chance so far shortly after the half-hour when Tarmo Kink smashed the ball into the box and Boyd, in space, failed to find the target with his header.
Grayson was forced into making his first change on 35 minutes when George McCartney, who was suffering with an illness, was replaced by Andrew Hughes. Two minutes later, Watt also limped out of the game, following a crude challenge from Kink, and he was replaced by Bradley Johnson.
The double change was a disruption for the United boss, but it was his side who responded with next sight of goal when Somma opted to try his luck from distance.
Leeds did have to defend a couple of harmless set-plays before the break, but it was the home side who were booed off at the half-time interval as United went in a goal to the good.
United had some defending to do in the opening moments of the second period, Connolly doing enough to prevent Boyd from making a proper connection with a Kink cross.
But the home side were level 53 minutes. Boyd found space in the area to meet a right-wing cross and he stabbed the ball home from close range to make it 1-1.
After being fairly comfortable, the goal gave the otherwise muted home support a lift, and United were suddenly looking to take control of the game once again. And it took some good defending from the home side to cut out a low cross from Somma when Becchio was waiting to pounce.
Becchio did make it 2-1, though, on 63 minutes. Becchio won the ball on the edge of the area, and when Johnson pulled the ball back across goal the Argentinean delivered a superb finish to put United back in front.
Becchio, linking up well with Somma, almost added a third five minutes later when he rattled the inside of the woodwork from distance with another terrific effort.
Strachan introduced former Reading striker Leroy Lita as his side looked to play catch-up and he was involved as Boro won two quick-fire corners. Scott McDonald also tried his luck with a shot from distance which Brown gathered.
As the clocked ticked down United were getting men behind the ball, looking to protect the lead. There was a delay as the game entered its final stages with Amdy Faye limping off to be replaced by Leigh Bromby.There were five minutes of stoppage time for United to contend with, but Grayson's men edged towards a victory that lifts Leeds back up to ninth in the table.
leedsunited.com 15/10/10
PREMIER LEAGUE KEEPER JOINS ON LOAN
Tottenham goalkeeper Ben Alnwick has joined Leeds United on a 28-day loan.
The 22-year-old former England under-21 international will join up with his new team-mates in readiness for Saturday's trip to Middlesbrough.
Alnwick, who made his Spurs debut in the Carling Cup semi-final clash with Burnley in January 2009, was understudy to Heurelho Gomes during the 2009/10 season and made his Premier League debut on the final afternoon, also against Burnley.
The keeper started his career with Sunderland where he made 22 appearances before joining Spurs in a £900,000 deal three years ago. His other league experience has come with loan spells at Luton, Leicester, Carlisle, and Norwich City.Alnwick is without a senior appearance this season, but is expected to go straight into the Leeds squad at Boro.
Yorkshire Evening Post 11/10/10
Bates set his sights high
By Phil Hay
Leeds United chairman Ken Bates insists he has not been demoralised by a handful of sobering results, saying he expects the club to be in the "top six or seven" of the Championship at the end of the season.
Bates criticised the mediocre defensive record that dictated United's form during the first two months of the term but said he had seen nothing to suggest that Leeds would not be possible contenders for promotion.
The 78-year-old's assessment at the 10-game mark echoed opinion in the city by reflecting harshly on the concession of 18 league goals – a tally which Bates said was "unacceptable" – but he sees the Championship as a division devoid of outstanding teams which remains as open as it did at the start of the season.
United will resume their campaign at Middlesbrough on Saturday evening, when manager Simon Grayson will attempt to stave off a third straight defeat, but the club reached the second international break of the season with a two-point gap divorcing them from the play-off positions.
Grayson's squad held a place in the top six for several weeks but talk of promotion was off the agenda last weekend after Leeds followed up a 6-4 loss to Preston North End with a narrow defeat at Ipswich Town.
A flawless defensive record during the first half of last season was a crucial factor in Leeds' promotion from League One under Grayson, and Bates was at a loss to understand United's porous state.
Bates said: "It's almost inexplicable because we reckon we've got a stronger back four than we did last season.
"Last season we only yielded eight goals before Christmas. So far we've conceded 18 goals in 10 games, although it's true that 11 of those goals have been in two games (against Barnsley and Preston). It's not acceptable and Simon will be working to put that right.
"What's been annoying is that some of the mistakes, which are all silly, have been caused by people who by and large are reliable and very solid at the back. The Preston defeat was unbelievable.
"But there are two types of Leeds fans – one who thought we were going to walk through the division, another who thought it would be a season of consolidation. I thought, and I still think, that we'll be in the top six or seven – hopefully the top six, fighting it out at the end of the season.
"We've got 10 games behind us and we've seen the calibre of the opposition. There's nobody, with the exception of QPR at the moment, that's outstanding. Teams are losing to each other every week."
QPR are setting a harsh pace in the Championship, already six points clear at the top of the division after eight wins from 10 games.
Leeds will not test themselves against Neil Warnock's side until December 18, when QPR come to Elland Road for the last game before Christmas, but they face a series of major examinations this month.
The club's visit to Middlesbrough is followed by home games against Leicester City and Cardiff City, the team immediately below QPR.
Bates said: "Nobody is getting away and, in my opinion, anyone who strings a good run together can be in contention. Hopefully Simon can get the team together.
"One or two players have been disappointing and one or two have been surprisingly good. But I'm not at all dispirited – unhappy about the two games, but it's otherwise been a reasonable start. Winning four games out of eight is promotion material.
"I thought we got off to a bad start by losing to Derby at home. That was a game in which we probably deserved a point.
"We deserved to beat Nottingham Forest and only drew but, aside from that, we've done quite well – excluding the two disasters at Barnsley and at home against Preston."
Grayson has battled a persistent injury list throughout this season, a list which now appears to be easing, but Bates hinted that his manager would be permitted to enter the loan market if he felt that additional resources were necessary.
Leeds have more than 25 professionals on the books at Elland Road but around 10 were unavailable for their recent fixtures against Preston and Ipswich.
A hamstring strain suffered by goalkeeper Shane Higgs at Portman Road compounded a catalogue of problems which was already severe and included first-choice keeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Bates said: "We've had 10 injuries, including to both goalkeepers which is why we had to extend the deal for Jason Brown (from Blackburn Rovers). But whereas a month ago we had players with longer-term injuries, we've now got players with short-term injuries.
"Loan signings would be for Simon to decide on and then recommend. But the problem is that we've got quite a big squad at the moment and once the squad is too big and players aren't playing, you get unhappiness in the dressing room.
"Footballers want to play football unless they're here for the money. Fortunately we don't have many of those.
"I'm not quite sure whether the answer is to get more players who have to settle in, find their feet and get used to how their colleagues play.
"But the weather is now getting heavier and the pitches are getting heavier.
"Smaller clubs with smaller squads will start struggling and that's when I think we'll demonstrate the wisdom of having a big squad."

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Yorkshire Evening Post 4/10/10
Whites fail to learn lessons
By Phil Hay
The postmortems held by Leeds United after Barnsley and Preston North End were grisly affairs; "cringe-worthy" according to the coach who ordered them.
Eleven concessions reviewed by a chastened squad of players included not a single clever, inventive or admirable goal.
The same complaint was audible at Portman Road where the coach in question candidly admitted that he was starting to mimic a broken record. It would not please Simon Grayson to blame league defeats on superior opposition but it would make a change from discussing them in terms of Leeds United's faults.
There was infinitely more to last week's disaster against Preston than a frail defence – indicted by that performance was the attitude, the leadership and the pride of Grayson's squad – but it was prevalent nonetheless in a game of no merit and serious tactical deficiency.
On Saturday, a 2-1 defeat to Ipswich Town was professional enough for United's manager to refrain from asking his players to look in the mirror. "They showed a lot more passion and a lot more responsibility," he said.
But the most basic failing of their loss to Preston – the failure to protect their own net – is a deep-set weakness that video replays alone cannot heal.
"What I can't accept," Grayson complained, "is us contributing to our own downfall. We must learn."
There were no prizes for guessing what United's squad would be working on most diligently for the duration of the international break which began yesterday. Grayson plans to give his players a short period of time off after their 10th Championship fixture but he will feel a pressing need to eradicate the lapses which cost Leeds that game before they contest their 11th at Middlesbrough on October 16.
Ipswich's first goal, scored after 18 minutes and one attack, was the product of a simple pass threaded through their defence by a midfielder under no pressure. Their second, scored six minutes from time and eight after United had equalised through Robert Snodgrass, relied on the gift of a free header, a cardinal sin for players the world over. Tommy Smith lapped it up.
That Leeds were missing right-back Alex Bruce at the moment of Smith's goal, sent from the field after a second bookable offence, did not lead Grayson to blame mitigating circumstances.
"We've given a free header away when we shouldn't have done," he said. "We're finding out again and again that when you make mistakes in the Championship, you get punished." Soon, he hopes, the penny will drop.
Whether United's defensive record, showing 18 goals against, is the fault of their defensive line or their team as a whole, is a matter of some debate; Grayson believes the second theory to be true and will doubtless press that point at Thorp Arch during the coming 10 days. But continuity within that defence eludes him, more so after Bruce incurred a one-match ban and Shane Higgs strained a hamstring early in the second half.
Bruce, an ex-Ipswich player, was used as a right-back on Saturday to accommodate another ex-Portman Road employee, Richard Naylor, half of a line completed by Neill Collins and George McCartney. So depleted are Leeds by injuries that an experienced and potentially adequate unit was also the sum of their available options.
However pleased Grayson was with a defence which kept Ipswich relatively quiet until the start of the second half, he will not be free to use it against against Middlesbrough. Bruce is a certain absentee; Higgs already ranks as a serious doubt. His collapse to the ground in the 63rd minute was worryingly reminiscent of the debilitating thigh injury sustained by the goalkeeper last season.
Higgs had already been beaten by the time he left the field, though five times fewer than by Preston. He was helpless to intervene after Jake Livermore advanced unchallenged through midfield and asked Jason Scotland to wreak havoc by threading a pass between Grayson's centre-backs.
Scotland anticipated the through ball and spun away from Naylor, keeping his balance for long enough to skip around Higgs and side-foot the ball into a vacant net. It could not have been said that the goal had been coming; before it, Scotland – Ipswich's lone striker – had barely touched the ball.
Leeds, by a nominal margin, were the more creative team in a first half played out at a healthy pace but with limited purpose. Davide Somma's shot from close range was blocked after Jonathan Howson laid off Bradley Johnson's cross, and Naylor's header from Neil Kilkenny's cross hit Somma before it could reach Ipswich goalkeeper Marton Fulop.
Both Naylor and Kilkenny had been recalled to Grayson's starting line-up after the debacle of United's loss to Preston, and Snodgrass too. Amdy Faye, the last of four changes, was given the debut that many in Leeds felt he should have made five days earlier, lodged in United's team as a defensive midfielder. With that duty, it seemed fair for Faye to take a share of responsibility for the excessive freedom given to Livermore prior to Scotland's goal, but the Senegalese international fulfilled his brief in so far as Ipswich's chances to improve their lead were minimal before half-time. Howson and Somma looked more likely to score with shots from long range which failed to test Fulop.
There was, still, a sense that United's system was causing Ipswich less strife than it needed to. Grayson, as he had against Preston, saw no reason to mess with his line-up at half-time but tactical substitutions seemed essential some time before Luciano Becchio and Sanchez Watt entered the fray in the 74th minute.
While they sat on the bench, Scotland contrived to miss Higgs' goal from an unmissable range after Leeds allowed Grant Leadbitter's free-kick to bounce around inside their box. Gareth McAuley, Ipswich's centre-back, showed a similar lack of precision with a glancing header beyond a post. His miss was Higgs' cue to depart, making way in some distress for another debutant in Jason Brown.
The on-loan Blackburn Rovers keeper was liable to be rusty, seven months after his last senior game, but he reacted well to a shot from from Scotland that flew at him quickly in the 71st minute, another moment when Ipswich might have killed the contest. When Snodgrass scored out of nothing five minutes later, the value of Brown's save soared.
McAuley and Smith played Ipswich into trouble by attacking a high ball together, and Somma brought possession under control before drilling a pass into Fulop's penalty area. Jaime Peters appeared to have the legs on Watt but the latter's ingenious sliding challenge knocked the ball across goal where Snodgrass was waiting to stab it into the net.
"The goal was shocking," said Roy Keane afterwards, proving that defensive problems exist outside Elland Road.
As quickly as optimism surged, Leeds found themselves numerically short when Bruce incurred a dismissal at the one stadium where he would have wished to avoid it. Booked already for a cynical foul on Andros Townsend he received a second after rashly fouling the same player near United's byline. Referee Keith Hill, though contentious in the main, could not forgive him that.
Grayson attempted to reorganise his remaining players but to no avail. A poor corner in the 84th minute tempted his defence out of position, and Carlos Edwards' high cross back into United's box found Smith waiting to aim a header down and beyond Brown.The presence of Ipswich's defender in such an advanced position was as much of a surprise as his appearance on the pitch; only because of an injury to Darren O'Dea had Keane promoted Smith from the bench minutes before kick-off.
Leeds will remember it as one of those weeks.

Yorkshire Evening Post 3/10/10
Whites can and will do better - Grayson
After a loss to Preston North End which broke records at Elland Road, Simon Grayson will be less inclined than ever to over-state Leeds United's potential as a newly-promoted Championship club.
But the club's manager has given the strongest hint yet that a squad like his might possess the stamina and ability to magic a top-six finish in a league which is in no rush to take shape.
Leeds' stunning 6-4 defeat against Preston on Tuesday – the first time a visiting team has scored six goals at Elland Road – swept away much of the optimism that grew on the back of one loss in seven league matches, sending United to Ipswich Town yesterday in 10th position when they might have been third.
Grayson's squad have hovered around the Championship's play-off places for much of a campaign which is 10 games old and he is not yet willing to write his club in or out of the fight for promotion.
Leeds entered the division with the priority of defending their Championship status on the back of three years in League One, an aim that Grayson insists is still at the forefront of his mind. But the club are in touch with the vast number of teams in the top half of the division, barring runaway leaders QPR.
Sheffield United manager Gary Speed said after his side's defeat at Elland Road last weekend that the Championship was "there for the taking" and the first 10 fixtures have failed to establish a definite collection of promotion candidates.
Leeds were beginning the second international break of the season today and their durability will be tested again this month during games against Middlesbrough, Cardiff City and a wounded Leicester City side.
Grayson has been careful to avoid declaring his squad as outright contenders for a play-off position, but he is as convinced as Speed that promotion could be achievable for numerous clubs over the next seven months.
"I talked before the season started about analysing blocks of games, and 10 games is maybe a good point to look how you've played, what you've done well and what you can do better," Grayson said.
"People would say we can do better and I think so as well. Everyone needs to realise that we've achieved very little so far this season – November and December onwards is where it counts.
"But the nature of the division is such that so many teams are so evenly balanced, in terms of what they can achieve. Getting promoted is about teams being consistent and I do believe that we can get out of the division, as most of the others surely do.
"I keep saying that there isn't one outstanding side in here. QPR have had a fantastic start and are the form team at this moment, but that can change quickly.
"Whereas last year you thought that West Brom and Newcastle were always going to be the top two, this year it could be anybody. You have to believe that you can do it."
Yesterday's clash with Ipswich was a difficult examination of Leeds, from a club who are widely expected to hold a play-off position this season and this month's meetings with Middlesbrough and Cardiff will be a clear indication of whether United's high league standing was an accurate reflection of the strength of their squad.
Grayson said: "We're still new to the division and I keep saying that. We were out of it for three years and we're doing okay. There's a lot more to come from the club.
"At times you have to be realistic and say 'are we going to finish (in the top six) at the end of the season?' We'd like to think we can do and I want us to give ourselves an opportunity to do that but, again, if we finish halfway up then it's been a period of consolidation.
"That's not being negative, because we want to finish as high as possible. My expectations haven't changed – I knew my squad would be good enough to win matches but I knew as well that the division would be tough."
United's manager has again be struck by the ceaseless commitment of the club's fanbase this term. Elland Road is presently averaging the biggest crowd in the Championship and an attendance of over 33,000 was recorded for last weekend's White Rose derby with Sheffield United.
"The fans have been outstanding and I have to keep praising them," Grayson said. "Sometimes I can't find the words to describe them. They do drive the players on and that's a reason why we score so many goals late on.
"We're a fit, strong team but the crowd demand that you keep going and run yourself into the ground."
Leeds have carried a sizeable injury list into the international break but Grayson is hopeful that first-choice goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel will make himself available for United's game at Middlesbrough on October 16.
A foot injury has kept the Dane on the sidelines since Leeds' 1-0 win at Watford in August and the club are treating his problem with caution in an effort to prevent any aggravation to a damaged tendon.
The former Manchester City keeper was one of United's outstanding players in the first month of the term and the current interlude in the season has given him a fortnight to reach full fitness and begin the fight to regain his first-team place from Shane Higgs. Grayson said: "Kasper's doing a little bit of goalkeeping work, but he's sore with his tendon."He still has a boot on and he's doing some handling work.
"The injury just needs time to heal. We had to be careful because if he'd continued playing, he could have had quite some time out.
"The injury isn't a serious thing but it could be a problem if we overload him with work."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

leedsunited.com 29/9/10
ASHAMED AND EMBARRASSED...
Manager Simon Grayson apologised to the Leeds United fans after Tuesday's 6-4 home defeat at the hands of Preston and admitted he was "embarrassed and ashamed" by the performance of his players at Elland Road.
Leeds contrived to surrender a 4-1 lead in the game to concede six goals on home soil for the first time in the club's history as Preston staged the most amazing comeback in their own history.
It was a completely stunning game to watch, and the United manager was furious with his players after the game.
"It was absolutely gobsmacking," said Grayson.
"I was lost for words. I was embarrassed and ashamed...unprofessional is another word you could use.
"We actually looked decent for a period in the first half, went 4-1 up, and were a major threat - but it still wasn't good enough. We said to keep it tight and see the first half out, but the goal before half-time gave them a lift and made it 4-2.
"I had a right go at them at half-time because there were too many things going wrong. We were being unprofessional and we told them.
"But in the second half we completely capitulated in terms doing all the wrong things. There were too many players playing as individuals and not as a team. There were too many mistakes. I could be here all day and night talking about the wrong things.
"It was like groundhog day again. To say it was disappointing would be a complete understatement.
"I've never been involved in a game like that before and I never want to be involved in another one."It was so frustrating because you look like you have turned a corner with a couple of decent results after the Barnsley game and then you get done six. Football amazes you."


Yorkshire Evening Post 29/9/10
Whites forced to watch video nasty
By Phil Hay
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson planned to subject his squad to a repeat of their horror show against Preston North End today after a 6-4 defeat which left him "humiliated".
United's squad were dragged into Thorp Arch this morning to dissect video footage of their spectacular collapse in a 10-goal epic at Elland Road.Grayson was almost lost for words at the end of an incredible game which Leeds led 4-1 after 39 minutes and 4-2 at half-time.
Preston tore apart his defence in the second half, striking four times without reply and becoming the first visiting team ever to score six goals in a first-team game at Elland Road.
A hat-trick from Jon Parkin, praised by Preston manager Darren Ferguson as "unplayable", did irreparable damage to Grayson's side.
The defeat came exactly a fortnight after United's 5-2 loss to Barnsley and a dejected Grayson, whose team were booed from the field at Elland Road, bemoaned "Groundhog Day" as he contemplate his next move before Saturday's game at Ipswich Town.
Grayson said: "It's groundhog day after two weeks ago at Barnsley. There aren't many words to describe it.
"I take responsibility because it's my team and my players but you don't expect this to be happening. To lose the game 6-4 is unbelievable – an embarrassment.
"Even at half-time, the players got a right rollicking because the scoreline could have been eight-all. We were far to open and unprofessional. They're as gobsmacked and dumbstruck as I am and if we get more games like this, I'm not sure I'll be here much longer in terms of my health.
"The players are in today to see what went wrong, just like two weeks ago.
"After they see the video, they'll realise what that game was like to watch, never mind what it was like to play in it."
Ferguson said: "That's heart attack material but my team were outstanding. Parkin was unplayable and Leeds' centre-backs couldn't cope with him."
Daily Mail 29/9/10
Leeds 4 Preston 6: Jon Parkin scores glorious hat-trick as Preston produce amazing comeback to stun Elland Road
By Neil Barraclough
Even in the madness that was Leeds United 10 years ago, Elland Road has surely never witnessed a match as bizarre as this.
Leeds were outstanding during an opening 40 minutes in which they made Preston look ragged and well-beaten.
But their almost comic implosion from a 4-1 lead had visiting fans laughing in the stands and Darren Ferguson celebrating a win that had looked as unlikely as the final score.
Ferguson said: 'I've never been involved in anything like that. It was an amazing game and my players deserve all the credit.
'I don't think anyone has ever come to Elland Road and done that from 4-1 down. It can get very nervy here at Leeds.
The second and third goals were the important ones for us. After that, we could smell a bit of blood.'
Jon Parkin's hat-trick was the highlight for Preston, but Leeds will still be struggling to figure out how they contrived to concede six goals against a side that had previously only scored seven times in eight league fixtures this term.
'Parkin was unplayable,' said Ferguson. 'Iain Hume was also outstanding. They were just too much for their centre-halves.' And yet Leeds had been breathtakingly dominant during the early stages.
Yes, they were sloppy in conceding Parkin's fifth-minute effort.
But they piled forward, flooded Preston's box with a sea of white shirts and banged in four goals of their own in response.
Luciano Becchio levelled with a fine header from George McCartney's cross and Leeds began to fly, cruising to their three-goal advantage within 25 minutes of that opening effort.
Davide Somma was twice denied from close range before Alex Bruce's looping header put the hosts ahead.
Then Somma eventually got his reward, finishing Lloyd Sam's break down the right before grabbing his second with a clinical drive after cutting in from the left. Then it all came crashing down.
Parkin's second, just before half time, gave Preston a glimmer of hope. Within 12 minutes of the restart, Keith Treacy scored direct from a corner then Callum Davidson smashed in a penalty after Paul Coutts was brought down.
After that, there was only ever one side who looked capable of carving out a result Parkin showed sublime skill and a thunderous finish for Preston's fifth after 64 minutes, before Hume rounded things off with a superb header on 79 minutes.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson said: 'I'm drained and hugely disappointed. You work hard to do things but sometimes football kicks you where it hurts.
'We made far too many mistakes again. We had too many players playing their own game, and you don't expect those things to be happening.Hopefully it doesn't come along again, because otherwise it could be a long season. It's unbelievable and embarrassing.'