By Andrew Butterwick
The sun was cracking the pavements in Selby as the lunchtime kick off dictated yet another early start to our latest matchday. I will never get used to lunchtime kick off's. It's just not right. Even in Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution he cited 3pm Saturday kick off times as one of the exceptions to his rule that everything in life evolves. Clearly the TV and Football gods have never read his book! Still that wonderful feeling of confidence and optimism filled the air as the Happy Chocker and the Quiet One joined me for the trip to the Theatre of Hope. After their mightily impressive win at the Keepmoat Brian McD's team extended their unbeaten start to the season to 6 games and sent a shot of real hope through the veins of the extended LUFC family but the good news didn't stop there as Ross Mac signed a new deal to finally rebuff any possible move to the Smoggies or the Donkey Lashers. So for the first time in an eternity the vast majority of Leeds fans streaming to Elland Road had an unusual strange look on their face. For those who weren't sure what this phenomenon was it's called "a smiling face"
Selection permutations were the main topic of conversation as we quaffed our pre match refreshments. Would Mowatt and Wootton start? How can he not start with Smith and Poleon after their performance against Donny? What about Drury? Suddenly Brian McD had selection headaches of a different kind. In the end the team selection was relatively conservative as Wootton was the only change at the expense of Tom Lees. Mowatt didn't even make the bench.
'Arrys expensive array of talent with significant premiership experience looked formidable on paper, Barton, Hill, Johnson, Green, Dunne, Onouha and Wright-Philips with the likes of Jenas, Faurlin and Hoilett on the bench not to mention the goal machine Austin leading the line suggested this was going to be Leeds' toughest test yet. Leeds started brightly though with their patient build up creating a couple of early half chances for Green and Ross Mac but both shots ended up in the South Stand. At the other end pantomime villain, Barton, had the ball in the net only to be denied by the linesman's flag. The game progressed with precious few chances created as both teams cancelled each other out. Leeds were the more dogged of the two sides whilst QPR seemed to have just that bit of extra class. Wootton and Pearce were holding firm at the back though as the game crept towards half time still goalless. Wright-Phillips showed just why he is not quite good enough for the Premiership when he skipped past some desperate Leeds tackles only to pull his shot horribly wide. Leeds were restricted to long range efforts as the half finished with the scores level at 0.0.
The first half stalemate had tempered my pre match optimism. Having spent £25m on their team QPR look like being formidable contenders for the promotion places as their redoubtable defence swatted away Hunt and Varney's efforts with unruffled ease. If we were going to break the deadlock in the 2nd half we needed a different approach.
The 2nd half started with Warnock gifting Austin the ball on the half way line. He scampered away from the distant home defence only for Kenny to thwart him with a good save. Leeds responded with a rare attack that saw Ross Mac appealing for a penalty after Simpson handled in the box but referee Atwell waved play on. QPR were beginning to take control of the game as they dominated possession. Hunt and Varney gave way for Smith and Poleon on the hour as Brian McD tried to get Leeds back in the game. Smith went near with his first touch as his lunging header caused havoc in the visiting defence. Poleon also got a shot away to give the Leeds faithful hope. The home side's lack of width was holding them back though as far too few attempted balls into the box came from anywhere but near the bye line and were easily repelled by Dunne and Onouha at the heart of the Gers defence.
QPR's greater possession finally told on 75 minutes when Hill scrambled the ball home from a free kick after the ball ricocheted around the Leeds box. 1.0 QPR. It looked a long way back for Leeds having hardly tested Green in the Ger's goal. Diouf replaced Green and as ever showed flashes of class and trickery but not enough to create a goal as the game headed for 5 minutes of added time. Leeds threw everything forward in an attempt to preserve their unbeaten record. Pearce's header flew wide whilst Poleon wriggled free of his marker only to hit a tame shot at Green. Then just as the final seconds ticked away Rudy Austin so nearly brought the house down as he hit a screamer from 35 yards that Green could only watch as it hit the bar. The whistle went shortly afterwards to signal a hard fought win for QPR 1.0. A reality check for Leeds in this very tough and tight division. The visitors just about deserved their victory and on this evidence will be challenging come May next year.
For Leeds Murphy did well as did Wooton, Pearce and Pelts. Warnock had an off day with too many misplaced passes. "The only positive is that we would have lost this 3.0 last year" HC muttered as we shuffled for the shuttle bus back to the town centre. The pre match buzz had evaporated from the majority of fans as they made their way home. Football is a cruel game at times.
The journey home was quiet as the disappointment of the defeat sank in. Cyber space was alive with doom and gloomers demanding we sign Messi before it's too late but we are only 5 games into the league season. We've made a good start and Brian McD has got the ship pointing in the right direction. Let's not panic just yet. Bolton at the Reebok next. Another tough test for Leeds. Can we bounce back against the Trotters? I do hope so.
By Josh Grainger
The visit of Harry Redknapp’s Queens Park Rangers was always going to be one of the more difficult tests that Leeds would have to face this season. The championship new boys fielded a side in which all but one of their player’s had played in the premier league at some point. Leeds on the other hand made a handful of changes to the side that beat Doncaster midweek in the Capital One cup. Teenager Alex Mowatt was replaced by Luke Murphy, whilst Michael Tonge gave way for Paul Green. In the final third, McDermott reverted back to what appears to be his favoured pair as Noel Hunt and Luke Varney came in for Matt Smith and Dom Poleon, whilst at the back Scott Wootton made his league debut in place of Tom Lees.
Both sides appeared to still have some of Friday night’s rustiness in them as the first ten minutes passed with no major incident. Leeds attempted to exert their home advantage on QPR however the visitors’ midfield pairing of pantomime villain Joey Barton and Karl Henry prevented the likes of Murphy and McCormack from creating openings. It was one of the QPR midfield who caused Elland Road to sweat, all be it only for a few seconds. A string of neat passing on the edge of the Leeds penalty area saw the ball eventually slid through to Barton, the former England international sent Paddy Kenny the wrong way only to see the offside flag risen to the relief of the Leeds fans, a decision which on review was incorrect.
Leeds on the other hand continued to battle hard, Rodolph Austin in particular appeared to enjoy the physicality of the clash, after a perfectly executed but incredibly hard challenge on Shaun Wright-Phillips. Leeds forced a number of corners from their opposition but a series of poor deliveries from Steven Warnock meant that nothing became of them. Fresh from signing a new four year deal, Ross McCormack tried his best to make something happen, however the impressive QPR defence made this difficult, as the game trickled through to the half way stage with neither side fully imposing themselves.
The two teams emerged for the second half unchanged and again it appeared that a lack of creativity was limiting the game from becoming a high drama affair. The second half continued to pass without major incident, Stephen Warnock nearly gifted the visitors the lead when his backpass to Jason Pearce flew askew, former Burnley striker Charlie Austin latched on to the error but Paddy Kenny was on hand to block the shot. McDermott thought he’d seen enough of his front pair on the 57th minute, Varney and the disappointing Hunt were withdrawn and Matt Smith and Dom Poleon were introduced. The pair began to make an immediate impact with Smith flicking on and Poleon firing his shot straight at Rob Green.
The Londoners grew in confidence however and took the lead fifteen minutes from time. Joey Barton’s free kick was whipped in front of goal, Kenny failed to hold the cross and the ball was eventually stabbed into the roof of the net by once Leeds transfer target Clint Hill. Leeds could afford to feel slightly hard done by, they hadn’t played brilliantly but had matched their counterparts until that point. McDermott threw on El-Hadji Diouf to try and stimulate an equaliser, however other than a few smart crosses from the byline, the forward had little impact. United were fortunate not to be two down in the closing stages, substitute Junior Hoilett broke away on the counter attack however flashed his shot wide of the near post.
With five minutes of added time up Leeds came painfully close to an equaliser, captain Rudy Austin picked up the ball a good thirty or so yards out, the Jamaican struck a wonderful effort on the half volley, but the ball flicked the top of the crossbar, it just wasn’t Leeds’ day. The whistle blew and Leeds had tasted defeat for the first time this season, an average performance in which a draw would have been a fair result, however in one of the more difficult fixtures of the season we can’t afford to be too critical. The two centre backs were Leeds’ best players, Scott Wootton proving he could be a handy little signing, whilst Jason Pearce continues to build on his strong start to the season.
By Rob Atkinson
The news that all Leeds fans have been waiting for - with just that slight worry that it may never come - has finally been confirmed. Ross McCormack is staying at Leeds, having put pen to paper on a new four-year deal to end speculation that his future might be elsewhere, possibly further north and shrouded in perpetual smog.
Whatever the disappointment fans of Middlesbrough FC might be feeling at these joyful tidings, the chief emotion among the Leeds faithful will be relief. The conviction in certain sections of the press that we were about to lose our most potent striker had amounted to an almost evangelical belief, or at least to a fevered plane of wishful thinking. There may be excuses for certain ill-written and obsessive fan-sites of other clubs getting over-excited about the prospect of more misery for Leeds fans, but the gentlemen of the Fourth Estate do themselves no favours when they, too, sink to the levels of various anti-Leeds factions around the country. But then again, hating Leeds in print is a standby pastime for newspaper lads and lasses since time immemorial, and it least it proves that our chant of "We're not famous anymore" is a living hymn to irony.
The news that McCormack is staying will not exactly echo around the various leagues, ringing with significance, in the way that Gareth Bale's forthcoming departure from Spurs will. And yet one fan-site editor of a West Ham persuasion had pinned his colours so firmly to the mast of "GFH will sell McCormack" that you wonder if he might now perform the literary equivalent of clapping a gun to his mouth and calling in the decorators. It's amazing how the varying fortunes of Leeds United can still provoke such extremes of emotion, even after a prolonged period of obscurity, and even among fans of clubs we have never considered worthy of even a mild dislike.
Make no mistake though - leaving aside all the negative connotations of those who will greet the McCormack news with dismay - this sends out yet another massively positive message, albeit somewhat delayed, as to the direction the new owners of the club are taking. Onwards and upwards is the theme - forget the past, the future is bright and White. McCormack would have had no shortage of suitors had he wished to leave LS11, and if the club had wished to sell, they could surely have realised a large fee in exchange for his services. Something is going unusually right at Elland Road and the longer the season goes on, the better things seem to get. This will remain the case even when the odd, inevitable reverse occurs - as long as the principles seemingly being applied by the owners at the moment continue to guide their actions.
IF - and it remains a significant if - Leeds can now move to plug the few gaps in their squad before this transfer window closes, then a competitive season at the right end of the table surely beckons, maybe along with a juicy cup run or two. The wind of change has been blowing down Beeston way, and it's putting some colour into Leeds fans' cheeks as well as a spring into their steps.
It's been a long, long journey from what we can now assume is the rock-bottom nadir of our great club's proud history. But there are undeniable signs that a renaissance is underway, and maybe - just maybe - that United are back.
By Mike Courtney
Back in July when I was looking ahead to the new season I wrote an article for this site and made the following predictions for our first five league matches;
Leeds 2 Brighton 0, Leicester 1 Leeds 1,Leeds 3 Wednesday 1, Ipswich 1 Leeds 2, Leeds 2 QPR 2.
Apart from the home draw with Wednesday I haven't done too bad so far, with just the home game tomorrow versus QPR pending. In fact the first four league games and the two cup victories have probably exceeded even the most optimistic fans expectations, and lying in 6th place just 2 points behind the leaders is the kind of start that was needed to get BMac's first full season in charge up and running. The faithful are getting excited about the season ahead and a bit more backing from the board with a signing or two before midnight on Monday will only enhance that expectation.
We have added to our squad lately with the acquisition of Scott Wootton and his debut couldn't have gone better in the midweek win at Donny, with his debut goal and all round assured performance at the back which will have pleased the manager no end and got those supporters, that doubted the signing of a Manc, on his side. He is wearing the white (or gold) of Leeds now and getting behind the young lad is imperative for his continued confidence. From Tuesday's evidence he could be a gem in the making.
So what of tomorrows live encounter on Sky? Again a large crowd is expected as we face Harry's promotion favourites. A team assembled with a lot bigger budget then BMac's boys. There is no doubting the quality that QPR have in their ranks and some of them are well capable of competing at the highest level. With an attack that can call on Junior Hoillett, Andy Johnson, Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora it could be a testing day for Paddy Kenny and his back four. Concentration levels need to be at 100% and the habit of conceding the first goal is something that needs to be addressed. We will need a big performance from our skipper in the middle of the park. His ability to break up play and tough tackling will be tested to the full by Barton, Jenas and company and he will need the industry of Green and Murphy to help Leeds get a foothold in that area.
If we do manage to hold our own in midfield I believe we have the firepower to trouble QPR at the back. Ross Mac has been playing his best football in years and with four goals already this campaign, he has been our star performer. It's not just his goals but his all round play that have made him stand out and it's no wonder other teams are looking at him in the transfer market. I think BMac should start with Poleon up front as his pace could trouble the likes of Dunne and Clint Hill, who are both well on the wrong side of thirty. You could have either Varney or Hunt supporting him and Big Matt Smith, who did well during the week at Donny, to come in late on if needed.
There is no doubting that this will be our biggest test so far and come 2pm tomorrow we might have a better understanding of where we are in terms of the promotion race. I know one game doesn't define a season but having got off to a great start to the campaign, a win tomorrow against one of the big boys in this division will send out the message that Leeds are on the way back. Even if things don't go our way and we end up losing, the manner of that defeat will say a lot. A battling performance and a narrow loss won't be the end of the world, no team will go unbeaten in this League, but a heavy defeat like Watford last term could have a long term impact on the squad and supporters that could set us up for another season of frustration.
My optimism is high though after the start we have made and with the backing of full house we can get a result tomorrow. I think I'll stick with my original prediction of a score draw, but we could edge it if everything goes our way. Either way it will have been a good August for BMac and his squad and following the International break, I hope to see Byram back in the side and a new winger added for our away trip to the Reebok.
MOT Leeds Leeds Leeds
By Steve Jennings
Think of Leeds United versus Queens Park Rangers and my mind will inevitably think back to a frosty if sunny Saturday back in February 1987 when the two clubs met in an FA Cup 5th round tie at Elland Road. Leeds were in the fifth season of an eight year stint in the old Second Division and QPR were an established top flight club having won the old Division Two under Terry Venables in 1982/3. The Londoners also had a decent cup pedigree having made the FA Cup Final in 1982 and League Cup Final in 1986.
Relegation in 1982 had hit Leeds United hard. Seven short seasons previously the club had played in the European Cup Final in Paris and were criminally robbed of the opportunity to become only the second ever English team to win Europe’s biggest prize by some ludicrous refereeing on the night. Bayern Munich lifted the trophy following a 2-0 victory on a night when the majority of Leeds fans sang “We are the champions, champions of Europe” in protest proclaiming themselves to the real champions. This protest song is still sung today. A minority of Leeds fans rioted at the Park Des Princes, however, prompting a European ban from UEFA.
In the seven years after Paris the club flirted with a return to the glory days under the two Jimmy’s - Armfield and Adamson - but suffered from continued crowd problems and this was a major factor in Leeds United’s demise. Attendances were dropping alarmingly and therefore so was income. Leeds United was a well supported club- as the penultimate home game in 1981/2 against Liverpool demonstrated with an attendance of just under 40,000 – but fans were staying away with the club lucky to get over 20,000 at Elland Road towards the end of the top flight tenancy.
This prompted major financial problems. The man charged with taking Leeds back to former glories was legendary striker Allan Clarke who spent millions on the likes of Kenny Burns, Frankie Gray and Peter Barnes but these would prove poor investments and by the time relegation was confirmed, with Leeds fans smashing up every town and city they were playing in, Leeds United was well and truly skint. Down and out in Division Two with the likes of Grimsby and Shrewsbury waiting nervously on the horizon!
Eddie Gray was appointed Player Manager with a view to reviving United’s fortunes. He later admitted in his autobiography though that he was only taken on because he was a cheap option as Leeds attempted to combat the chronic debts. Gray initially kept faith with the players that had taken Leeds down but moved them on when it was blatantly obvious that promotion was not going to be a foregone conclusion. And if crowds were low in the First Division they would get even lower in the second tier. Despite Gray’s valiant efforts and his investment in youth the club was sinking into the abyss and those days of Europe seemed a million years away.
By 1986/7 Billy Bremner was the club manager. He had stripped out Gray’s talented, if lightweight, youngsters and built a team of solid experience recruiting players like Brendon Ormsby, Jack Ashurst, David Rennie, John Pearson, Micky Adams, Keith Edwards and Bobby McDonald whilst keeping faith in Gray old boys Ian Baird, John Sheridan, Andy Ritchie, Mervyn Day and Neil Aspin.
Leeds had no recent cup pedigree suffering some humiliating defeats against lower league opposition since relegation. The season’s first FA cup tie was away at Telford with the venue changed on Police advice to the Hawthorns – ironically the venue of United’s last game in the First Division. A tricky encounter was negotiated 2-1 with a Baird brace before Leeds repeated the score at Swindon with Baird scoring again after a Jimmy Quinn own goal.
When Leeds were paired with a home tie against Jim Smith’s slick QPR team there was much excitement. Bremner’s side were in and around the front-runners in Division 2 so this would prove a real test to his charges.
I managed to purchase four tickets and would be attending with three mates from Tiverton.
On the night before the game I spoke with Supporters Club Secretary Eric Carlisle and, unable to contain my excitement, told him I thought there could be 30,000 at the game. He was less positive saying a crowd of about 21,000 was anticipated; United’s average home gate at that time, and this was the man who sent out the tickets so he should know. Whatever the final attendance it was going to be a great game handing Leeds some much needed additional income.
Travelling to Leeds from Devon was an experience. From north of Taunton the M5, M42 and M1 motorways were awash with a sea of Leeds colours in cars and coaches. Leeds fans here, Leeds fans there and, well, you know the rest.
When we got to Leeds Elland Road was throbbing. The ticket office had queues the like had not been seen for many years. The few tickets left were snapped up in the hours before the game. Taking my seat in the West Stand I watched in awe as the ground filled to capacity in only my third visit to the home of English Football. The crowd were in great spirits. I recall the QPR goalkeeper, former Leeds apprentice and self-confessed fan David Seaman, being so intimidated by the South Stand crowd he warmed up on the halfway line.
Before the game started there were thousands unable to get in the ground in the West Stand car park all watching the West Stand supporters nervously for reactions.
The game itself was a nervy and highly emotive encounter. Leeds ran and ran showing great energy to combat QPR’s more intricate passing play. With the crowd urging Leeds on it was no surprise when the home side took the lead inside 20 minutes. Adams swung in a cross, big John Pearson nodded it down and Baird bravely flung himself at the ball to nod past Seaman. 1-0!
The crowd in and outside the ground erupted. The dream was on.
Leeds had chances to kill the game off but failed to do so. Rangers, to their credit, were composed and continued to pass the ball. In the 60th minute Leeds gifted QPR an equaliser when an under-pressure Rennie attempted a back-pass to Day in the Leeds goal but sliced it into the corner. 1-1 and game on!
There were some scuffles in the crowd, particularly in the Old Lowfields stand where some QPR fans were sat, but nothing too problematic for West Yorkshire’s finest who had plenty of practice handling disorder over the years.
The next 30 minutes were heaven and hell at the same time with every Leeds attack prompting heart-pumping excitement while a Rangers corner or charge forward saw the butterflies take over. It was looking like a credible draw was on the cards when Leeds got a corner in the 85th minute.
What happened next seemed to be in slow motion as Sheridan strolled across to take the kick, stroked the ball to the near post and Pearson used his height to flick the ball to the QPR penalty spot. Big Brendon Ormsby timed his run into the box impeccably meeting the ball full on powering a header into the roof of the Rangers goal that lifted the netting out of the ground before he launched himself onto the fencing of the Kop to celebrate.
The vast majority of the 31,324 fans inside the ground and reported 3,000 in the car park went wild. 2-1! Now hold on Leeds!
I don’t remember the rest, just the final whistle and hugging grown men I had never met before or would likely ever again. This was long before mobile phones but I wanted to call everyone I knew back home and scream it loud - We are Leeds! Marching on together!
Leeds United were back in the spotlight for the right reasons. The result and attendance prompted one TV reporter to proclaim famously: “The fur coats and Rolls Royce’s are back at Elland Road!” while another simply bellowed “a sleeping giant has awoken!”
And it had. And it felt bloody great.
Saturday 21st February 1987 at Elland Road
FA Cup Fifth Round
Leeds United 2 (Baird, Ormsby)
Queens Park Rangers 1 (Rennie o.g.)
Leeds United: Day; Aspin, Adams; Rennie (Buckley), Ashurst, Ormsby; Stiles, Sheridan, Pearson, Baird (Edwards), Ritchie
Queens Park Rangers: Seaman; Neill, James; Walker (Lee), Chivers, Fenwick; Allen, Fillery (Maguire), Bannister, Byrne, Fereday
That game against QPR remains my favourite at Elland Road, even greater in my mind that all those European nights and classic promotion scraps because of the impact it had on what was to come. It was the only time Leeds United would beat top flight opposition in those eight dark years of Division Two Football in the 1980’s and was solely instrumental in bringing the crowds back to Elland Road. There would be more 30,000 plus attendances at Leeds before promotion was achieved in 1989/9, some three years later.
Later that season Leeds would fall at the semi-final stage of the FA Cup to eventual winners Coventry City at Sheffield’s Hillsborough ground and lose the inaugural play-off final against Charlton Athletic at Birmingham City’s St Andrews’ground. I was at both games.
Leeds will face much fancied QPR this Saturday in more positive circumstances than 21st February 1987 but the game may have similar implications for the club. Leeds are unbeaten in six games and have won two away games in the previous week including a marvellous 3-1 victory at Doncaster where debutants Mowatt and Wootton impressed.
Rangers sit 4th in the table, two places above their hosts, having won 3 and drawn 1 in the league but head to Yorkshire on the back of a 2-0 defeat at Swindon in the cup.
If Leeds can force a win against the West Londoners in front of the watching TV millions then this would certainly raise expectations among the club’s supporters. And maybe the fur coats and Rolls Royce’s will be back again?
By Andrew Butterwick
As with all midweek games it required a mad dash from work to ensure we didn't miss the next instalment of Leeds United's 2013/14 campaign. The late afternoon stress wasn't necessary though as the Happy Chocker, Brother Chris and the Quiet One all arrived in good time for a pre match drink at the Park Inn which is a short skip and a jump from the stadium. Brian McD had indicated he would be making 5 changes with Wootton making his debut. Would it be Lees or Pearce who steps down though? Who else would get a run? We tried to 2nd guess our leader's thoughts as the hotel filled with football fans.
Nearly 4,000 fans had made the short trip to Doncaster for this Capital One Cup 2nd round game and they were in good voice as the game kicked off. Mowatt, Poleon, Smith and Drury joined Wootton as changes from Saturday's starting eleven with Hall, Brown, Hunt, Diouf, Murphy, White and Ashdown on the bench. Lees made way for Wootton. Warnock, Norris and Varney didn't travel.
Donny started the better with our old adversary Richie Wellens pulling the home side's strings from midfield. Once again Leeds seemed slow to start and could have been one down in the first ten minutes but for some wayward finishing and a superb goal line clearance from debutant Wootton. Were Leeds sticking to their usual game plan this season, let them score first and then knock two goals in? Leeds did gradually get a foothold in the game as young Mowatt drew purrs of delight from the travelling hordes as he stroked the ball about with ease. Clearly he has a lot of talent something that Brian McD has clearly recognised by drafting him into the first team set up. I wonder if Mr Warnock would have done the same? I think we all know the answer to that!
Leeds patient approach play started to pay dividends as chances were crafted through intelligent play rather than brawn. Mowatt broke and released Ross Mac who hit a screamer over the bar. Peltier and Tonge combined well down the right but Smith could only direct a soft header into Turnbull's arms in the home goal before Ross Mac missed a golden opportunity to break the deadlock when he blazed over from 15 yards. Chances continued to flow though and Ross Mac's next chance saw his shot fizz past the post. Mowatt added a touch on naive class to the Leeds midfield as he and Drury stuck up an instant understanding on the left flank. At the other end Kenny had to be alert to keep out a couple of half chances but in front of him Pearce and Wootton were getting to grips with the threat from Robinson and Brown. As befitting of a Yorkshire derby there were some meaty challenges dished out from both sides. Pearce picked up a yellow for a crunching tackle where he seemed to take the ball while Wellens seemed to have licence to hold players off with his elbow. Both sides were playing open football and surely it was only a matter of time before the deadlock would be broken. Smith was battling well with the giant Jones in the home defence whilst Poleon was testing one time Leeds target, Wabara, with his pacey runs.
Just as half time approached the Leeds pressure paid off. Once again Drury and Mowatt linked well down the flank before the young debutant swung in a vicious cross deep to the Donny back post.....Smith rose magnificently to head back into the box where Wootton sent the travelling fans into raptures by scoring on his debut. 1.0 Leeds. No more than they deserved. Confidence was now oozing from every Leeds move and right through the team. Poleon once again left Wabara for dead but couldn't finish. HT 1.0 Leeds and 4,000 very happy Leeds fans applauded their team off. On the evidence of the first 45 minutes we were well on the way to stretching our unbeaten start to the season to 6 games. As the Happy Chocker commented "you wouldn't have thought that after the Walsall pre season friendly"
Leeds continued to turn the screw in the 2nd half with Ross Mac, Austin, Mowatt, Smith and Poleon to the fore whilst the back four looked rock solid. Ross Mac had a chance to kill the tie as Mowatt released him but Turnbull got down well to his goalbound shot. Leeds were well on top and both Poleon and then Smith spurned chances to take the tie away from the South Yorkshiremen. On the hour ex Leeds man Billy Paynter came off the bench for Doncaster. "He's nailed on to score" I commented. That despite the fact that when he wore a Leeds shirt I thought the exact opposite. So as if to prove the taunting Leeds fans wrong he did just that with only his third touch. A cross from the left fizzed into the box and Billy was on it like a flash and thumped a header past the motionless Kenny. Unbelievable. It must have been the Leeds shirt that stopped him scoring for us! 1.1. Buoyed by the goal and the home fans noise Donny then had a purple patch as they went for the win. Leeds started to rock as substitute Duffy found space in the middle of the
The stadium was now rocking as the game swung from end to end. Smith brought a spectacular save from Turnbull with a swivelling volley from inside the box as Leeds recovered from the equaliser. On 74 minutes the tiring Mowatt was replaced by Murphy and received a thunderous ovation from the appreciative travelling fans. What a debut for the lad! Murphy made an immediate impact as he added fresh legs and a touch of composure to the Leeds midfield. On 77 minutes he picked up a nothing ball in the centre of the park and spread it wide to Peltier who advanced towards the box using Ross Mac as a foil before swinging a sweet cross into the Rovers box where Smith rose above the crowd and smashed a header past Turnbull. Get innnnnnnnnnnnnnnn! 2.1 Leeds and the Leeds fans were delirious. Leeds now went for the kill as Donny pushed for an equaliser as they calmly moved the ball around the pitch looking for a chink in the home defence. Poleon ran at Wabara for the umpteenth time teasing him into dragging him down inside the box......PENALTY. Ross Mac stepped up and despatched the ball past the giant Turnbull. 3.1 and game over. "That's how you win 3.1" the Leeds fans taunted Doncaster after their abandoned match on Saturday.
Leeds played out the remaining time with a swagger. The referee blew for time and signalled Leeds passage into the third round. 6 games undefeated and some real good football to boot. Not sure we're allowed this luxury supporting Leeds are we? Lots of smiling faces from the Leeds fans as we streamed away from the ground. How good did that feel? Brian McD will have a selection headache for the QPR game after this performance. Wootton had an excellent debut whilst Mowatt was a revelation in midfield. Up front Smith and Poleon were a constant threat whilst Drury didn't put a foot wrong at left back. Ross Mac just gets better with each game. Man of the match? For me a toss up between Mowatt and Smith.
Suddenly there is a real buzz about the club. It's early days but the green shoots of recovery are starting to blossom under Brian McD's leadership. QPR up next with 'Arry and his expensive team of contenders. If we are still unbeaten by 3pm Saturday the 7 nation army beat of "Ohhh Brian McDermott" will be on everybody's lips as Leeds march on. Delicious!
By Rob Atkinson
It all started with a slightly bizarre Yorkshire Evening Post back page headline. "Chapman Wings In", it screamed - signaling Leeds United's signing of the tall striker for the 1989/90 run-in. A winger he most certainly was not, but many Leeds fans didn't really fancy him to be all that much of a centre-forward either and it's fair to say that the bulk of the support weren't exactly overwhelmed by Sergeant Wilko's latest transfer swoop. But Lee Chapman was to win our hearts as he trod a goal-laden path to the top with Leeds, and any slight technical shortcomings were more than outweighed by his willingness to get in there where it hurts, to put his head in where many would hesitate to risk a boot. Whites fans do love a recklessly brave warrior who's worthy of the badge.
I well remember seeing one example of this bravery at close quarters when I attended a 0-0 draw at Tottenham shortly after we were promoted. Challenged aerially as he went for a ball near the touchline, Chappy hurtled off the field of play to land senseless in an ungainly heap, face-first on the perimeter smack in front of where I was sitting. Thus I was an unwilling witness to the worst case of gravel-rash imaginable when Leee (as he was fondly known by The Square Ball fanzine) tottered to his feet, his classic profile seemingly having been scraped off to a large degree by the unforgiving Spurs running track. Such a mess of grimy blood and snot had to be seen to be believed, and I honestly wondered if he wouldn't be out until the end of the season; but Leee - true to courageous form - was back in double-quick time to finish the campaign with thirty goals.
The following season he managed to break a wrist in trying to save a cup-tie at Elland Road, and during his absence we took the fateful decision to recruit enfant terrible Eric Cantona. But again Chappy came back, and played a far greater part in that season's title success than the mercurial Frenchman. Brave he certainly was, and an unerring gatherer of goals too, sometimes clumsy in his execution of the finish, but still lethally effective. The highlights were many - a hat-trick at home to Liverpool in an epic 4-5 defeat when he had a goal wrongly disallowed to deny Leeds a deserved draw. Chappy had this wonderful knack of hurtling like some blond Exocet missile to connect with quality deliveries from either flank; goals at Aston Villa from a Mel Sterland cross, and at Sheffield Wednesday, courtesy of Gary Speed, stand out in the memory of those who were lucky enough to be there. And in that Hillsborough match there was a rare glimpse of Lee's unsuspected streak of genius as he picked up possession on the right, burst between two floundering defenders into the area, and pinged a shot against the Wednesday crossbar. It was the gilt-edged stuff of absolute fantasy.
Lee Chapman was not a player of extravagant talent, nor did he play pretty football embellished with flicks and tricks - not usually , anyway. But he was a devastatingly effective spearhead for Leeds over a period of several seasons, his time at the club coinciding with the second-greatest period in our history, his goals securing many a valuable win and draw, home and away. He is fondly remembered as an archetypal Leeds player - fully committed and willing to risk injury for the sake of the shirt. Memorably, he returned for a brief loan spell in the mid-nineties, welcomed back into the fold by rapturous Elland Road applause, only to be sent off for a stray elbow as he challenged for yet another high ball.
Leeds have had many great centre-forwards in their history - from the peerless John Charles downwards through Mick Jones, Joe Jordan, to the more modern heroes like Tony Yeboah and maybe even Jermaine Beckford. All those names have notable achievements on their Elland Road CV, and Lee Chapman deserves his place in such a Hall of Fame; as tribute to his attitude, his bravery and of course his goals. For a Leeds United centre-forward, there can be no higher praise than that.
By Mark Rasdall
It was twelve years since Leeds United had beaten Ipswich Town away and the rain lashing the seemingly endless A14 yesterday did not augur well. LUFC fans were gathered outside the pub next to the railway station with the river on the other side of them. Spirits (and beer) were high but it was as though nobody quite dared to cross the bridge on to Portman Road itself. I've been at the last two games there and, honestly, it has always seemed a bridge too far (and no, I don't blame Tom Lees for his lack of civil engineering skill).
Unfortunately Tom did make a mistake for what was a fairly soft Ipswich opener and should have dealt with it better. In the four games of the league season so far he does look a bit less assured but I put that down to both youth and the huge desire to satisfy both Brian McDermott and the legion of Leeds fans who travel to the ends of the earth - and Ipswich certainly fits that description.
However, I thought that Lees and Pearce actually played pretty well for the most part, as did Green in front of them. We had to survive barrage after barrage in the second half with a seemingly non stop flow of corners from both sides but stood firm and had a much better (or more organised at least) shape about us in the second half. Ross scoring just after half-time clearly helped with confidence, though he didn't do ours much good with his muted celebration and despite our assuring anyone who would listen that he really wasn't for sale...
Varney went for everything again (including a paper and a bottle of milk) and you cannot question his commitment. He was too eager at times and got caught offside too often but, hey, when his first-half chance came he took it really well. Apart from one horribly mistimed tackle Austin was solid again but I do wonder about his fitness levels and the impending, obligatory trip to Jamaica must be a concern for Brian.
Murphy showed some great touches and at one point early in the second half we played some really slick passing football. I suppose nerves over finally being in touching distance of winning in the Suffolk desert were bound to play a part and the persistent rain did nothing to quench the dryness in all of our throats. We seemed unwilling to really go for it with a typical away, smash and grab, strategy and too often got to the halfway line and then simply were unsure whether to have and hold or move further forward.
Pace is still an issue. When Poleon came on for Varney we looked alive in a way we hadn't quite done for the most part of the match. Given he's been playing in the Development games I'm still not sure why Ryan Hall doesn't get a place on the bench. Either he's not really fit, has psychological problems thinking he's a fishing rod instead of a footballer or he makes follically-challenged jokes when he thinks Brian can't hear him?
All in all, we did cross the river together and we finally prevailed. We must surely draw confidence from days like this and it did remind me of Reading grinding out those wins two seasons ago. As for the Ipswich fans, I know we sang non-stop as usual but, really, they didn't get behind their team at all who were, frankly, as passive as everyone in blue deserved. If Ipswich did something daft like say damming the Orwell and diverting the water into the players' showers to save money and were made to play their matches behind closed doors, I honestly don't think anyone would really notice.
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