By Josh Grainger
It was a pretty bleak feeling before Leeds’ 3rd round FA cup tie against fellow championship side, Birmingham City. The last few years have seen Leeds pitted against some of the country’s finest, none more famous than on January 3rd 2010, when Simon Grayson managed Leeds to an astonishing 1-0 victory away at bitter rivals Manchester United.
The next year’s 3rd round draw handed Leeds another eagerly anticipated trip to Arsenal. Leeds again showed great spirit in this fixture, however a late Cesc Fabregas penalty took the tie to a replay, which Arsenal went on to win 3-1. A year on and Leeds again found themselves in the same position, facing a trip down to Emirates. This time Leeds couldn’t repeat their heroics, Thierry Henry’s first goal in his second spell with the Gunners was enough to knock Leeds out.
This year however was somewhat different, when the draw was made and Leeds were handed a home tie against Birmingham. Most fans were disappointed with the draw, possibly one of the reasons that saw only 11,447 turn up for the match. The match had somewhat of a pre-season friendly feel to it inside the ground, it was obvious that it was going to be one of those games in which the players had to lift the crowd.
The Leeds squad had been hit by a virus, that ruled a number of players out, however most notably meant that Neil Warnock was unable to attend. Ronnie Jepson was in temporary control of the team. Leeds made six changes to the side that had beaten Bolton a week ago, Jamie Ashdown replaced Paddy Kenny in goal, whilst Adam Drury, Tom Lees, Aidan White, Michael Brown and Ryan Hall were all brought in to the side.
The game started fairly well, Birmingham had the early dominance of the match, Nathan Redmond and Ravel Morison forcing stand in keeper, Jamie Ashdown into early saves. Leeds struggled to exert themselves fully on the match, however nearly took the lead but Jason Pearce’s header rebounded off the post. Birmingham weren’t to pass up their next opportunity, midfielder Wade Elliot turned round David Norris in the centre circle, before unleashing a stunning strike from distance to beat Ashdown. Birmingham probably deserved their lead on the balance of play, however there was no denying it was one of the poorer first half’s Elland Road had seen.
Leeds made two changes at the interval, Sam Byram replaced the disappointing Ryan Hall, whilst
El- Hadji Diouf came on for Aidan White. Leeds started the second half with more of a tempo than the first. Luciano Becchio had a great chance to draw Leeds level, however struck his shot straight at Conor Doyle the Birmingham keeper. Becchio wasn’t going to pass up his second chance however. In the 60th minute David Norris won the ball on the edge of the area and after some great footwork, played a neat throughball into the box for Becchio, the Argentine confidently finished into the bottom corner and drew Leeds level.
Leeds didn’t manage to use this goal to spur them on, Birmingham again had a number of chances, however couldn’t finish any of them. The main talking point of the match followed however, Birmingham’s 19 year old defender, Will Packwood went up for a header with Luciano Becchio and crumbled to the ground after an awkward landing. It was immediately clear that it was a serious injury, Michael Brown was heard telling the Leeds bench that he heard a crack. Packwood was stretchered off to a good reception from both sets of supporters and it has been confirmed post-match that he has broken both his fibia and tibula and will miss the rest of the season. My thoughts go out to him and I wish him a speedy recovery.
The game finished 1-1, however Packwood’s injury was the main talking point in a disappointing game. Leeds will now travel to St.Andrews for the replay and will face Tottenham at home if they
are too win.