Leedsunited.com 28/12/08
BACK TO WINNING WAYS
28 Dec 2008
United return to winning ways at Stockport...
STOCKPORT 1 (Mullins 2), UNITED 3 (Becchio 19, Delph 73, Christie 87)
Stockport: Williams, Mullins, Rose (McSweeney 25), Blizzard, McNulty, Pilkington, Gleeson, Baker (Turnbull 78), Rowe, Tunnicliffe, Davies (Thompson 78). Subs: Dicker, Taylor.
United: Ankergren, Richardson, Marques, Michalik, Sheehan, Hughes (Prutton 89), Douglas, Delph, Snodgrass (Howson 65), Becchio, Beckford (Christie 64). Subs: Robinson, Lucas.
Referee: R Beeby
Booked: Becchio, Sheehan, Douglas, Delph (United)
United manager Simon Grayson made two changes to his first starting line-up with Andrew Hughes and Robert Snodgrass coming into the reckoning.
Snodgrass scored his third goal in as many games after stepping off the bench against Leicester on Boxing Day as United marked Grayson's first game at the helm by ending a five-game losing streak.
That point against Leicester, the equaliser coming in the 91st minute, was a massive boost to United, but it took less than two minutes for Stockport to dent that confidence.
Casper Ankergren made a great save from Michael Rose inside the first minute, but less than 60 seconds later the keeper was helpless after Carl Baker teed up Jonny Mullins inside the area and his powerful strike rapped Jonathan Douglas on its way into the net.
United did respond immediately, though, and after claims for a penalty were dismissed in favour of a corner. Stockport failed to deal with the second ball in and Lubo Michalik fired wide after seizing on the loose ball.
Jermaine Beckford also had a shot blocked after an intelligent ball from Luciano Becchio. Moments later, as United continued to rip into Stockport, Beckford hit the woodwork with an overhead kick.
An equaliser was always on the cards, and it came in the 19th minute when Becchio got the decisive touch on a Snodgrass corner to restore parity.
Becchio came within a whisker of scoring a second just three minutes later when Owain Fon Williams got down well to parry his goalbound effort. The quick-thinking Beckford almost seized on the rebound.
Following the early goal conceded, United were dominating the contest, playing some of the most incisive football in weeks, and Stockport left-back Rose paid a price when he was hauled off after just 25 minutes and replaced by Leon McSweeney.
McSweeney's first involvement was to chase the shadow of Snodgrass and after Delph had a shot deflected wide, Beckford hit another overhead effort over the top following a good knock-down by Michalik.
The home side had not left their own half for almost 30 minutes, but on 32 minutes it took a goal-line clearance to deny Baker with a header following a corner.
It also took a terrific clearance from Hughes and a save from Ankergren to keep Stockport at bay when the hosts won another corner on 34 minutes. Ankergren also saved from Anthony Pilkington after the lively Baker delivered a good ball into the box.
However, as the half-time whistle went, Grayson will have been pleased with the way his new charges responded to the early goal and also with the manner in which they defended when Stockport finally re-found their feet.
The second half started like the first with Stockport on the attack, and it took some good early defending to deny Tommy Rowe.
But it was United who came within a whisker of taking the lead on 54 minutes when Snodgrass bent a terrific free-kick around the wall and past the goalkeeper before it drifted narrowly wide.
It was real end to end stuff and was full value for the Edgeley Park full-house. Stockport defended well to clear a Hughes cross was Beckford was in space and Leeds replied when Alan Sheehanmade a good clearance from a corner.
With 25 minutes remaining, Grayson made his first changes. Beckford, still feeling the effects of injury, was replaced by Malcolm Christie, and Jonny Howson came on for Snodgrass.
But the goal came from a familiar face on 73 minutes as United took the lead. Stockport keeper Williams hit a clearance as far as Fabian Delph, who was near the touchline, and the youngster seized to fire the ball back into an empty net from over 30 yards out.
It was a terrific finish from the youngster who retained his composure well, and the goal sparked wild scenes among the sizeable travelling contingent.
It meant United were within touching distance of a first win since November 22 and after Ankergren made a good save to deny Dominic Blizzard on 86 minutes, Leeds quickly returned the ball upfield and Christie made sure of the win with a good finish from distance to register his first goal for the club.

Yorkshire Evening Post 27/12/08
Grayson: Season starts here
By Phil Hay
Simon Grayson celebrated his first point as Leeds United manager after a dramatic clash with Leicester City, and insisted: "The season starts here."
The 39-year-old was saved from a losing start to his reign at Elland Road as Robert Snodgrass' late goal staved off a sixth successive defeat and earned Leeds a 1-1 draw against League One's leaders.
United were trailing to a first-half strike from Matt Oakley yesterday when Snodgrass scored his sixth goal of the season at the end of the 90th minute, and Grayson praised the resolve of a squad who overcame a turbulent week to halt a dire run of form.
Grayson had only 48 hours to prepare United's players after arriving at Elland Road from Blackpool as the club's replacement for sacked boss Gary McAllister, but he is counting on an immediate run of positive form to bridge the gap of seven points between Leeds and League One's play-off zone.
Speaking after their stalemate against Leicester, which was watched by a huge crowd of 33,580, Grayson said: "We want to get out of this division and we're not too far behind everybody.
"If we can put a run together over the next few weeks there'll be no stopping this football club. If we can get the ball rolling at home and away then this football club can move forward.
"But we need to get into a position to be able to push on, and this is the first point of a campaign from now until the end of the season. My ambition is to get out of this division, like the 30-odd thousand here today."
Grayson's appointment at Elland Road is the subject of an ongoing complaint from Blackpool to the Football League, but the former Leicester midfielder has settled quickly into his new position after staging his first training session with United's players on Christmas Eve.
His first game in charge appeared to be heading for a negative conclusion after Leicester captain Oakley opened the scoring on 24 minutes, shortly after Leeds striker Luciano Becchio had struck a post, but substitute Snodgrass tapped home a cross from Jonathan Howson at the start of four minutes of injury-time to deny Leicester a sixth straight victory.
Snodgrass' strike was his third in as many games, and Grayson admitted that the Scottish forward had been unfortunate to find himself limited to a place on the bench.
Grayson said: "Robert had scored two goals in his last two games and was unfortunate to be out of the team.
"I picked a team of players that I knew more about, and certain players were unlucky to be left out.
"But it's a start for us now and everyone will have a chance to be in the team over the next few weeks. "To get a late equaliser against the league leaders is a positive result.
"I know there's a lot of work to be done and we could have played a lot better, but we showed desire, spirit and resolve to keep going to the end.
"If the game had gone on for another five or 10 minutes, we would have been the team who won it.
"I'm delighted with a result and I suppose Leicester are disappointed.
"The positive side is that we dug in, and when you're getting a team together you need a group of players who are committed and who don't give in."
Grayson made his first coaching appointment at Elland Road by adding Ian Miller to his backroom staff ahead of the Boxing Day game.
The former Wolverhampton Wanderers, Blackburn Rovers and Leicester coach was assistant manager of Blackpool while Grayson was reserve-team coach at Bloomfield Road, and he has now linked up with the 39-year-old at Leeds.
Grayson is expected to make a further addition to his team in the coming week.

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