Saturday, April 16, 2011

Bradford Telegraph & Argus 12/4/11

Yet more midweek misery for Leeds United

John Wray

Derby County 2 Leeds United 1

Leeds suffered more Tuesday night blues as lowly Derby gained the win their manager Nigel Clough said they needed for Championship safety.

United have won only one of their last nine Tuesday night matches and they badly need a win against Watford at Elland Road on Saturday to revive their promotion bid, with the chasing pack snapping at their heels in the race for play-off places.

After a goalless first half, Max Gradel fired Leeds into a 58th-minute lead but two goals in just over a minute by Jamie Ward and Ben Davies were enough to give Derby the points.

United, who have now lost four of their last five away games, made two changes, Neil Kilkenny and Barry Bannan replacing Bradley Johnson and the injured Robert Snodgrass.

Kilkenny had something to prove after being left out of the last three starting line-ups and the Australian international won possession before linking up with Jonny Howson to set up a chance which Bannan put wide.

Howson revelled in his role just behind Luciano Becchio and the Leeds captain tested Derby keeper Brad Jones with a stinging shot after a purposeful run.

United had two early let-offs after the break. First, Ward was left unmarked ten yards out, only to send a hurried left-foot shot wide. Then Pearson and Ward just failed to latch on to a cross with the Leeds defence caught out.

Leeds manager Simon Grayson was considering making changes seconds before Gradel broke the deadlock with an unstoppable 25-yard shot for his 17th goal of the season and his seventh in nine games.

However, Derby hit back to take the lead with two rapid goals and complete the double over their rivals. Livermore gave the ball away and Pearson’s cross was finished off by Ward to equalise. The cheers of the home crowd had hardly died down when Davies volleyed the Rams ahead from the corner of the penalty box following a corner.

Gradel and Davide Somma had shots saved by Jones before Kasper Schmeichel had to make an excellent stop to prevent Davies increasing Derby’s lead.