Sat April 30th. Gradel and Howson clinch awards. Leeds winger Max Gradel has won both the Players’ Player of the Year and Members’  Player of the Year awards at Elland Road. The 23-year-old Ivorian has scored 17 goals in 43 appearances in his first full season for Leeds and was also called up into the senior Ivory Coast squad for the first time. Gradel initially arrived at Leeds on loan from Leicester in October 2009, with the move made permanent for an undisclosed fee in January 2010. Midfielder Jonny Howson was named Leeds’ Young Player of the Year again and Supportre club player of the year  and also received the club’s Community Award for his efforts off the field. The club’s Goal of the Season award went to Bradley Johnson for his stunning strike against Arsenal in the FA Cup third-round replay at Elland Road.

Sat April 30th. 1700. N Forest 5-1 Scunthorpe. Only a collapse of biblical proportions by Forest at C Palace and a victory for Leeds at champions, QPR will bring United into the play offs at the expense of Notts Forest. The only crumb of comfort was the home defeat by Millwall to Swansea City meaning those little angels from the Den remain in the Championship for another season.

Sat 30th of April 2011. 12 :45 Leeds 1-0 Burnley.  01 Schmeichel, 06 Naylor Lichaj, McCartney40 , O’Brien, 07 Gradel (Watt 89) 08 Kilkennyyellow card14 Howson 16 Johnsonyellow card09 Paynter (Snodgrass 76) 44 McCormack (Bromby 90+3) Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 02 Connolly, 04 Bruce,  17 Livermore. United produced almost a very decent performance against Burnley except for the fact that they missed seven or eight gilt edge chances. A 1-0 win was never going to be enough to put pressure on Notts Forest who looked to have a home banker against Scunthorpe. United led at half-time thanks to Ross McCormack’s neat finish – his first for the club since joining in the summer. McCormack played up top with Billy Painter and they both caused the Clarets all manner of problems. Brian Jensen produced a string of saves to deny Leeds, who also hit the post through McCormack in the second half.Jack Cork fired a shot wide and Ross Wallace saw a free-kick saved, but the home side held on for a deserved win. The win completes the double for Leeds over Burnley, but more importantly keeps them in the hunt for the final play-off spot. The Yorkshire side went level on points with sixth-placed Nottingham Forest (who had a game in hand) but blew away Burnley’s feint chances. Leeds persisted with Billy Paynter in the absence of leading scorer Luciano Becchio, even though the striker has failed to offer as potent a goalscoring threat as the Argentine in recent weeks, and the big front man was involved early, firing a half-volley narrowly wide of goal as Leeds had the best of the opening exchanges. Having weathered the early storm, Burnley fashioned a great chance at the other end when Michael Duff ghosted behind the defence to latch on to a Chris Iwelumo flick-on from a free-kick, but home keeper Kasper Schmeichel blocked with his head. In order to assist Paynter, Leeds boss Simon Grayson gave McCormack his first start since January, and the Scot linked up well with his strike partner midway through the half, crossing for the former Swindon man to draw a scrambling save from Brian Jensen with a header. This was a rare start for McCormack, but he demonstrated no rustiness in the 33rd minute when he latched onto a superb Bradley Johnson through ball and swept in past Jensen for his first goal since moving to Yorkshire from Cardiff eight months ago. Having taken 10 points from their previous four games, Burnley were a side in form, and they almost hit back immediately when centre-back Andre Bikey flashed a header wide from Daniel Fox’s inswinging corner. Paynter had two great chances in the space of a minute early in the second half to extend Leeds’s lead, but he headed the first, from a McCormack cross, straight at Jensen and put the second wide from a tight angle after taking the ball past the Burnley keeper. Leeds kept coming and saw two other goalbound efforts denied by Jensen shortly after. McCormack’s free-kick from the right was met with power by Andy O’Brien six yards out, but his downward header was straight at the keeper and he was able to parry it away. Then, seconds later, McCormack swivelled in the box and shot at goal but his bobbling effort was tipped onto the post and wide by the Dane. Burnley were not out of the game though and Cork served warning of this when he fired a superb 30-yard effort just wide of the top corner of Schmeichel’s goal. The Leeds keeper had to be alert to tip a free-kick from substitute Wallace over the bar soon after, while at the other end Jensen produced further saves to deny McCormack and Jonny Howson. Leeds substitute Sanchez Watt could have wrapped up the game on a couple of occasions with late efforts, but as it transpired one goal was enough for the home side.

Thursday April 28th. Barry Bannan was recalled by Aston Villa from his loan period with Leeds. The 21 year old made seven appearances for Leeds since joining in March.

Easter Tuesday April 26th 2011. I’m taking a post Easter break from work with the kids and still getting my head around our car crash of a season finale. Did we really manage to descend from 2nd to 9th or was it all just a bad dream ? I’ll reserve my summary until after our last  match of the season or maybe I’ll become an Irish astronaut for a few months and reappear on August 17th. The attached makes interesting reading and certainly caught my eye :Taken from the blog “From Europe to Yeovil” Being a Leeds United fan for so many years, I should probably be used to that all too familiar sinking feeling. A lot of us saw this coming. It doesn’t make it any easier to take. I’m absolutely gutted today. What a sorry way to end the season. People say, “oh but would you have taken this at the start of the season though?”, yes I would but I wouldn’t have taken it at Christmas. We sat second in the table and the transfer window, which re-opened at the beginning of January, represented a great opportunity to address the obvious problems at the back and add quality where it was needed. Whilst our competitors invested, we just let the days go by. I had an idea we would pay for it and we have. Promotion was lost in January. We relied on loan players and it backfired. There is an argument for saying we have overachieved in our first season back in the Championship, but just look at Norwich and Millwall. With the right investment and astute management, we would have been up there with Norwich. Simon Grayson has seemingly crumbled under the pressure and weight of expectation. Some of his transfer dealings and tactics have been woeful. Poor Barry Bannan must be begging Villa to go back. Grayson has failed to use his squad effectively and a few players must be considering their futures at the club. The likes of Ross McCormack and Lloyd Sam must be looking towards the exit. Grayson is a decent manager but his flaws have been exposed this season. Last season’s last-gasp promotion papered over the cracks of a terrible second half of the season. We have run out of steam again. Our midweek form is another worry. It must be down to attitude. It has been a respectable season but could have been so much better. It’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. We have come up short when it really matters. This has been a wide-open Championship, it won’t be so easy next season. It’s a massive summer for Grayson. The signings he makes will make or break him. The defence needs a major overhaul, he looks like losing two regulars in midfield and we need more firepower up front. There could be major changes. This isn’t a witch-hunt. I’m just voicing my opinion. I genuinely like the guy – he comes across really well and obviously loves the club. I just doubt whether he has got what it takes to take us to the next level. He should be given more time. Time will tell if he learns from his mistakes.

Easter Monday April 25th 2011 C Palace 0-0 Leeds United. 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly (Kilkenny 46) 06 Naylor, 20 Lichaj 40 O’Brien , 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 17 Livermore (Watt 46) 09 Paynter (Somma 73) 23 Snodgrass : Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 26 Bromby,  25 Bannan,  44 McCormack. Don Revie was a superstitious man. He didn’t like birds and deliberately changed the team’s crest away from an owl. Terry McQuaid is a superstitious man. He wisely went to Gortakeegan instead of tuning into LUTV. I on the other hand am not superstitious. I saw a  lone magpie on three different occasions today. On for sorrow…..and boy was it sorrow. Leedes committed hari kari after just two minutes and they never recovered. All of a sudden the goals have dried up but the defence still leaks. On this occasion it was a poor Schmeichel kick that caused the damage. Crystal Palace took a huge stride toward securing their Championship status with a win against play-off hopefuls Leeds at Selhurst Park. The home side made the perfect start when Neil Danns’ shot deflected in off Andy O’Brien of Leeds after 80 seconds. From the only other chance of a drab first half, Palace’s Jermaine Easter headed a Nathaniel Clyne cross wide. Palace survived heavy Leeds pressure in the second half and ended with 10 men after Danns was sent off.  It was a bitter end to the game for the midfielder, but sweetened by the crucial three points he had played a major part in earning. With Scunthorpe losing 2-1 at home to Millwall and Doncaster drawing 2-2 at Barnsley, the result leaves Palace six points clear of the relegation zone with two games to play, and a vastly superior goal difference to 22nd-placed Sheffield United. For Leeds, defeat is a major blow to their hopes of securing the final play-off spot and they now trail sixth-placed Nottingham Forest by three points. In addition the two teams directly above them – Millwall and their next opponents Burnley – are a point better off than Leeds. The game had barely settled when Danns unleashed a fierce drive from the edge of the area that flew through a melee of players and beat Leeds keeper Kasper Schmeichel. However, despite the lively start and what was at stake, the game descended into a tepid affair with neither side producing much in the final third, barring Easter’s miscued header just before the break. Leeds manager Simon Grayson made two changes at half-time – Neil Kilkenny and Sanchez Watt replacing Jake Livermore and Paul Connolly – to positive effect. The visitors created far more in the second-half with Watt and late substitute Davide Somma going close from long range. But Palace dug and, despite Danns’ late dismissal for two yellow cards, they held on for a vital win. The defeat drops Leeds to 9th, three points behind Notts Forest (who have a superior goal difference) and one point behind Millwall and Burnley. In real terms we need snookers. Two pointes  from encounters with Watford, Derby, Sheff United, Ispwich, Millwall and Palace is relegation form. United hit the wall at the wrong time. Without Becchio and no prolific Beckford to call upon, the goals simply ran out put the leaky defence still dripped. For a brief couple of hours next week we could go back to 6th by giving Burnley a hiding, but this will be putting off the inevitable. The fans deserve a last stand especially the 6 Louth men in attendance from Stabannon. For the record, Forest entertain an almost doomed Scunthorpe before finishing off at the Palace. Millwall, hateful as they are, take on Swansea before finishing at Barnsley.  Sometimes you have to make your own luck.

Easter Friday 22nd of April 2011. Leeds 0-0 Reading. 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 06 Naylor, 20 Lichaj, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel 14 Howson (Watt 81) 16 Johnson, 17 Livermore (Kilkenny 46) 09 Paynter (Somma 81) 23 Snodgrass Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 26 Bromby,  25 Bannan, 18 Watt, 27 Somma. Becchio didn’t make it and Billy Paynter is not a prolific Argentine. Simon Grayson surprisingly recalled skipper, Richard Naylor, and he didn’t let them down.  Keeper Alex McCarthy kept Reading in the game in the first half, saving well from Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel. After the break, Leeds’ Bradley Johnson rattled the bar and Mikele Leigertwood fired a shot off target for Reading. Gradel and Snodgrass tested McCarthy late on and Leeds’ Sanchez Watt missed a great chance to win it at the death. The Yorkshire club had begun Good Friday in sixth place, the last of the play-off spots. But this Elland Road stalemate ensured they ended the day seventh, below play-off rivals Nottingham Forest – who beat Leicester 3-2 earlier in the day – on goal difference. Leeds just about edged the first half, having the two best chances, both of which were kept out by Reading’s impressive keeper McCarthy. The first was a close-range header by Snodgrass, which McCarthy pushed wide, and the second was a swirling long-range shot by Gradel. The England Under-21 keeper got enough of his body behind the ball to block the goalbound effort but will have been relieved to see it spin wide of the far post. Neil Kilkenny came on for Jake Livermore at the break and his introduction seemed to lift the whole Leeds team. They took the game to their visitors, forcing them onto the back foot whenever possible, harassing them and denying them time to think when they tried to go forward. Reading’s Andy Griffin wasted a great chance when he cut in from the right and dummied Gradel, opening up space in the box, only to fire into the side netting when he would have been better off crossing. Johnson then came closer than anyone else to finding the target when he ran from the half-way line and saw his shot off the outside of his boot rebound off the bar with McCarthy well beaten. The longer the game wore on, the greater the tension emanating from the Leeds team became, and Reading responded by going on the attack with more confidence. Leigertwood should have done better when he was allowed to bear down on goal unchallenged, but his shot was off target and could only rattle the back stanchion. Reading have become known as the Championship’s late goal specialists, but it was the home side who came closer to scoring. As in the first half, it was Gradel and Snodgrass who tried their luck, but again the impressive McCarthy was equal to the task. In stoppage time a rare McCarthy misjudgement allowed substitute Watt a great chance to snatch a winner, but the on-loan Arsenal player lost his footing and skewed the ball wide of the target. We need at least four points from Easter. One secured but in real terms from the chances we missed, this was two points dropped against an overrated Reading side.

Sat 16th of April 2011. Leeds 2-2 Watford. 01 Schmeichel, 20 Lichaj, 26 Bromby, 29 McCartney, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel 08 Kilkenny (Becchio 56) (McCormack 84) 14 Howson, 16 Johnson , 23 Snodgrass 27 Somma (Bannan 68) Unused Substitutes :Naylor, Higgs, Livermore, Connolly. One point from the last nine is relegation form. Leeds are hitting the rocks at the wrong time of the season. Another McCartney mistake although Bannan didn’t help him and O’Brien couldn’t tackle my granny let alone a Watford forward as we seen from the second goal. Hull are two points behind, whilst Forest were unlucky at Norwich and Millwall pressed the self destruct button. Simon Grayson slammed his defence despite the joy of a late equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Watford at Elland Road. Aside from Max Gradel and Don Cowie hitting the woodwork, the game had conjured up little of note until substitute Luciano Becchio headed home his 20th goal of the season to give Leeds the lead with 19 minutes left. The Argentinian then missed a golden chance to make it two before being taken off with an injury, but not before Leeds had been pegged back by Lee Hodson who slipped in behind the woeful Leigh Bromby to head in. Leeds’ defence has now shipped 68 goals this season, the last of which came when Andy O’Brien, equally as culpable as Bromby, lost a 30-70 challenge with Danny Graham, allowing Andy Weimann to net. The drama was not finished there, though, as Leeds went straight down the other end and levelled themselves as Barry Bannan’s corner was turned into his own goal by Troy Deeney. But even the euphoria of a late equaliser could not temper Grayson’s frustration with his defenders. “It was frustrating because I say the same things after every game,” he said. “We get the goals but we make individual mistakes. “Today, we got in front and then within five or 10 minutes it’s 2-1.We don’t have a siege mentality when we go in front. “We knew it might be the 70th, 80th or 90th minute when we ground it out. We went 1-0 up, Luciano missed a chance, then it’s 1-1 and then 2-1. “I keep having to say the same things on a regular basis which is frustrating for me, my staff and the players. “At this stage of the season it doesn’t matter how you win games. We got the goal and then we switched off. Then players made soft challenges and Danny Graham gets in and puts the lad (Weimann) in. “We pressed the button that we’ve pressed many a time this year.” Leeds remain in the play-off places, clinging on to sixth spot by two points despite a run of one win in six. Grayson, though, is trying to stay positive. “We needed to win the game,” he said. “But our undoing was communication and concentration. “We have four games to go, two in front of everyone else. It’s a simple equation.” Watford manager Malky Mackay stopped short of backing his side to make a late run for the play-offs themselves, but did praise the spirit his young squad had displayed in coping with the atmosphere at Elland Road. Mackay has constructed his side amid financial restrictions at Vicarage Road and he admitted to being “proud” of the way they had handled themselves. “I think we are worthy of a point,” he said. “We spoke about the last five or six games, about having a go and trying to win games and I think we showed that today. “We try to foster a spirit and a determination here, that’s what we’ve done since I’ve been here. It easy to say that, but at some clubs you get agendas. My playing and coaching staff are pulling in the one direction. “We’ve had financial difficulties and have a small squad and the spirit drives them on. We had (a draw with) Norwich on Tuesday and Leeds today, two top teams and big clubs. “This shows that our young players have come on leaps and bounds. To come here, on a beautiful pitch, in a tense atmosphere, to play like that means that this young group have the potential to fast track their potential into reality. “We have four games left and I’m sure that not many sides will want to face us. Things will change hands plenty of times between now and the end of the season.” Meanwhile unloved Ramon Nunez (on loan with Scunthorpe) did something that Leeds players must replicate next week…..score the winner at Selhurst Park.

Tuesday April 12th 2011. Derby County 2-1 Leeds United. 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly, 20 Lichaj, 26 Bromby, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel 08 Kilkenny 14 Howson, 17 Livermore (Johnson 64) 25 Bannan (McCormack 72) 10 Becchio  (Somma 64). Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 04 Bruce, 06 Naylor, 11 Sam.  Max Gradel gave United the lead on 58 minutes with a strike from the edge of the box. However, within five minutes Derby were in front. Jamie Ward equalised for the home side before Ben Davies gave the Rams the lead with a shot low into the right corner of the goal. The three points keep Derby out of the relegation battle but  Leeds stay sixth by the skin of their teeth with Forest just one point behind. It was the first time all season that Derby have come from behind to win a match this season. This was Leeds worst performance and result of the season……..bar none. Swansea a decent side beat us 3-0, Cardiff, a decent side  hammered us 4-0, and Millwall beat us 3-2. Fair enough the first two sides are decent with Cardiff in particular possessing the most expensively assembled team in the championship, and Millwall is a hateful place to go….turkish flags or no turkish flags. But Derby, a side lacking in confidence and who had to sell their two best players, Comyns and Hulse are very poor. We are chopping and changing the side like a hoor’s knickers, and confidence is low. It’s time to stand up and be counted. Cardiff will take second. Swansea, Reading and Norwich are almost home and hosed as play-off participants. Leeds will fight it out with Forest and maybe Millwall for that valuable last place, but we have to start winning and quickly. This must start with Watford at home on Saturday. It’s time to get off the pot Larry.

Sat April 9th. Millwall 3-2 Leeds. Leeds 01 Schmeichel, 02 Connolly (Bannan 74) 20 Lichaj, 26 Bromby, 40 O’Brien 07 Gradel, 14 Howson, 16 Johnson, 17 Livermore (McCormack 82) 10 Becchio 23 Snodgrass (Somma 46)  Unused Substitutes : 25 Bannan, 27 Somma, 44 McCormack. This is a match Kasper Schmeichel will want to delete from his video library as he was responsible in part for all three goals. Despite goals from Becchio and O’Brien, United went down 3-2 to Millwall, one of their least favourite hunting grounds. Leeds now lie in 6th position four points ahead of Millwall.

Tues April 5th. Red card confirmation. Nottingham Forest have been unsuccessful in their bid to have Chris Cohen’s red card against Leeds rescinded. The midfielder was sent off after 36 minutes for a challenge on George McCartney before Forest went on to lose 4-1 to their npower Championship promotion rivals at Elland Road on Saturday. An FA Regulatory Commission has upheld referee Mark Halsey’s decision and Cohen must serve a three-match suspension. He will miss Forest’s forthcoming home games against Reading and Burnley and the trip to Norwich on April 15.

Tues April 5th. Will the real owners step up please ? Leeds United will be forced to reveal exactly who owns the Championship club if they are promoted to the Premier League. The league’s chief executive, Richard Scudamore, said they will apply the rules on ownership transparency more strictly than the Football League have done.  Scudamore told the culture, media and sport committee: “The Football League have chosen not to apply the rule as robustly as we think we will be applying it. “The Football League have one view of how to interpret that rule and we have a more stern or harsh view of what the rule means. “Our clubs absolutely agree unanimously that we should tell the public who owns the clubs and anything short of that is inadequate. “If it arises, if Leeds United on sporting merit deserves to be in the Premier League, we will do all we can to persuade them to stay within the rules.” Leeds chief executive Shaun Harvey told MPs last month the club’s owners are a holding company called FSF based in the West Indian island of Nevis, owned by three discretionary trusts. The owners of these trusts are unknown but have appointed two men, Patrick Murrin and Peter Boatman, to run the club and they had asked Ken Bates to be chairman. Leeds’ ownership statement say no single person or company owns more than 10% of the discretionary trusts.

Mon April  4th. Financial results. LEEDS United have announced mixed news on the financial front in their latest set of yearly figures. The figures for the year ending June 30, 2010 revealed an overall profit of £2.072m – thanks chiefly to money from the sale of Fabian Delph to Aston Villa and several Academy stars. But the club also announced an operating loss of £670,000 for the last financial year – which the club says is due to the price of success following promotion to the Championship. The deficit is down from the operating loss figure of £1.6m in the previous financial year, when United announced a small overall profit of £15,000, mainly again due to the sale of players. A significant amount of late costs linked to the club getting promoted from League One to the Championship in 2009-10 have been cited as the main reason for this year’s operating loss, such as payments to other clubs and promotion bonuses which were all included in the latest set of figures. It is believed the extra costs triggered by promotion was the reason that ensured United didn’t reveal an operating profit. Additional payments are thought to include extra money paid out as part of the deal which brought former Coventry City midfielder Michael Doyle on loan to Elland Road for the whole of the 2009-10 campaign – with United, after initially only paying a proportion of the player’s wages, having to pay the balance after being promoted last May. He was on £10,000 per week, a fee that both clubs shared. With Leeds having won promotion, they picked up the whole of the player’s wages. That is understood to have cost United around £250,000. Chief executive Shaun Harvey said: “The club’s financial performance remains strong. There were a few extra costs linked to promotion, otherwise it would have been positive all the way around.”The figures also revealed that Leeds paid their players and management staff £7,706,000 with turnover up 16.9 per cent to £27,446,000. Gate receipts increased by around a third – 30.8 per cent – to £11,732,000 and merchandising was up 12 per cent to £5,509,000. The balance sheet showed net assets of £7,140,000, with senior football management estimating the value of the playing squad at £6,667,000 on September 1, 2010, but this was not included in the figures.

Sun April 3rd. The run in. Norwich with their goal difference are in effect seven points ahead of Leeds. Are they home and hosed ? Certainly not. Four points from our next two games will certainly keep United with a fighting chance of second. The Canaries face Swansea City, Watford, Notts Forest and their East Anglia neighbours, Ipswich Town in their next four games. Not one of them is a banker.  Of course Norwich are currently in poll position, but they have a difficult run in as have most sides around them. Personally, I think we are a better side than Norwich, and should have beaten them twice this season. Saturday, 9 April 2011. Millwall v Leeds, 15:00, Doncaster v Cardiff, 15:00 Nott’m Forest v Reading, 15:00 Scunthorpe v QPR, 15:00 , Swansea v Norwich, 17:20 . Tuesday, 12 April 2011 Barnsley v QPR, 19:45, Derby v Leeds, 19:45 Millwall v Bristol City, 19:45 Nott’m Forest v Burnley, 19:45 Scunthorpe v Reading, 19:45 Sheff Utd v Cardiff, 19:45 , Swansea v Hull, 19:45 Watford v Norwich, 19:45. Friday, 15 April 2011 Norwich v Nott’m Forest, 19:45 Saturday, 16 April 2011Burnley v Swansea, 15:00 Cardiff v Portsmouth, 15:00 Coventry v Millwall, 15:00Leeds v Watford, 15:00 Preston v Sheff Utd, 15:00 Reading v Leicester, 15:00. Monday, 18 April 2011 QPR v Derby, 19:45, Thursday, 21 April 2011 Ipswich v Norwich, 19:45 Friday, 22 April 2011 Nott’m Forest v Leicester, 17:15 Leeds v Reading, 19:45 . Saturday, 23 April 2011. Cardiff v QPR, 12:45 Portsmouth v Swansea, 15:00, Watford v Barnsley, 15:00 Millwall v Preston, 17:20. Monday, 25 April 2011 Bristol City v Nott’m Forest, 15:00, Crystal Palace v Leeds, 15:00, Leicester v Watford, 15:00, Norwich v Derby, 15:00, Preston v Cardiff, 15:00 QPR v Hull, 15:00, Reading v Sheff Utd, 15:00, Scunthorpe v Millwall, 15:00 Swansea v Ipswich, 15:00. Saturday, 30 April 2011 Leeds v Burnley, 12:45 Coventry v Reading, 15:00 , Millwall v Swansea, 15:00, Nott’m Forest v Scunthorpe, 15:00 Watford v QPR, 15:00, Monday, 2 May 2011 Cardiff v Middlesbrough, 17:15 Portsmouth v Norwich, 19:45. Saturday, 7 May 2011 Barnsley v Millwall, 12:45 Burnley v Cardiff, 12:45 Crystal Palace v Nott’m Forest, 12:45, Norwich v Coventry, 12:45 Preston v Watford, 12:45 QPR v Leeds, 12:45 Reading v Derby, 12:45 Swansea v Sheff Utd, 12:45. On paper Cardiff City have the easiest run in and certainly have the most talented squad of players. Norwich City have certainly not got it easy. It’s just as well football is played on grass. I expect it to go to the last game of the season for that final decisive spot, and don’t rule out Leeds United who will probably need three points at an already crowned champions.

Sat April 2nd. Job done Billy!!Leeds Utd 4-1 Notts Forest. 01 Schmeichel, 20 Lichaj, 26 Bromby ,29 McCartney, 40 O’Brien, 07 Gradel 14 Howson, 16 Johnson (Kilkenny 88) 25 Bannan (Livermore 75) 10 Becchio (Somma 90+2) 23 Snodgrass Unused Substitutes : 08 Kilkenny, 17 Livermore,  27 Somma. Att – 29,524. Leeds scored four second-half goals to defeat 10-man Nottingham Forest after a feisty contest at Elland Road. Forest dominated the first half but had Chris Cohen sent off after a two footed lunge at  George McCartney for a loose ball. Jonny Howson put Leeds in front from close range after the restart before Luciano Becchio headed a second goal. Garath McCleary pulled one back with a superb curling effort but Max Gradel then struck brilliantly with an 18-yard shot and fired home a rebound close to the end. It was a competitive, bad-tempered and engaging contest, packed full of the sort of effort and desire that you would expect from two teams in patchy form but desperate to secure their place in the top six. Leeds, who went into the contest in fifth – one place above Forest – had won just two of their previous seven fixtures but started the match on the front foot. Lee Camp saved at the feet of Bradley Johnson in the second minute after referee Mark Halsey played an advantage following a crude lunge on Gradel by Wes Morgan. Play was brought back after Camp’s save but Gradel could only smash the ensuing free-kick wide of the Forest goal. The visitors had collected just four points from their previous seven games but, after weathering the early storm, Billy Davies’s side took a definite grip on the contest. Radoslaw Majewski was slippery throughout the opening half playing on the left side of a front three and he almost scored with a crisp strike that deflected off Johnson but flew narrowly wide with Kasper Schmeichel beaten. Lewis McGugan, one of three recalled players, forced two stops from Schmeichel, while Marcus Tudgay was inches away from slotting home a cross from the left by Joel Lynch. Forest lost Paul Anderson to injury before the half-hour mark but continued to look composed in possession and should have scored after Majewski jinked through the Leeds defence and played a square ball to an unmarked Tudgay. Schmeichel was out of his goal and Tudgay had time to pick his spot but his effort was blocked by Leigh Bromby, who also denied Kris Boyd with a follow-up. Seconds later Cohen challenged McCartney for a loose ball and within seconds a melee had broken out as tempers threatened to boil over. It has to be said that Forest were jumping in to rash tackles, and old foe Gunther should have seen red in the first 20 minutes for two bookable challenges on Gradel.  Forest remained on top for the remaining 10 minutes of the opening half but found themselves behind five minutes after the restart when Robert Snodgrass and Eric Lichaj combined to play in Howson. The Leeds skipper used a touch to control the ball before guiding it past the advancing Camp. Shortly afterwards, the Yorkshire side appeared to take a decisive grip on the contest when Becchio headed his 17th goal of the Championship season after Bromby’s initial effort cannoned off the post. Snodgrass then struck the crossbar with a curling strike but Forest would not lie down and McCleary, who replaced Anderson in the opening half, wrong-footed Barry Bannan before hitting an exquisite strike from a tight angle that found the top corner. In the end, it took Gradel’s superb strike 18 minutes from normal time for Leeds to secure the points. The Ivory Coast international controlled a header with his first touch before striking a precise strike from a central position on the edge of the box that nestled into the bottom corner. Forest, who now face back-to-back home games against play-off hopefuls Reading and Burnley, brought on Nathan Tyson and Robert Earnshaw in the second half and the former was inches wide with a left-foot strike. But the final goal fell to the energetic Gradel, who fired home a rebound from six yards minutes before the end after Camp had denied substitute Jake Livermore and then Becchio. Billy no mates Davies : “We’ve seen the DVD and the referee said it was for excessive force, but I agree with our chief exec Mark and we’ll definitely go to appeal and see how we get on.” The Forest bench clearly felt Grayson’s furious reaction to Cohen’s tackle helped sway referee Halsey’s decision. Davies, careful not to say too much about the incident, added: “You decide for yourselves. You don’t need me to tell you. We all know what took place. “I said last week it (promotion) will not be decided until the last two or three games and you’re better being a lucky manager than a good one at this stage of the season. “Promotion will all be decided on refereeing decisions, suspensions, injuries and Lady Luck. “We did not deserve that. Did we look like a side lacking in confidence? No. Did we look like a side that didn’t have a work ethic? No. “They worked their socks off and I’m very proud of what my players gave us. You can’t legislate for certain decisions that take place.” Grayson, who challenged his players to try and win all their remaining games this season before kick-off, felt Halsey was correct to send Cohen off. He said: “The referee got it clearly right. I know Chris Cohen and he’s not a malicious player, but he left the ground two-footed, caught George McCartney and the ball. It was the right decision. “If it had been one of my players that had done that I would have accepted the decision. “It was a reckless, not malicious challenge and the decision was correct.” Grayson agreed Forest had caused his side plenty of problems before being reduced to 10 men. He added: “They are a good side. You only have to look at their bench, the budget they’ve spent, they should be favourites for the division and they’re going to cause problems. “We had to be patient and move the ball around, push the two wide players further up the pitch to create space for our full-backs. On Kelly’s snub at the final whistle, Grayson said: “If somebody doesn’t want to shake your hand that’s up to them. “I’ll always offer my hand to anybody, win, lose or draw and if people refuse it, then that’s their problem.” Now the discussion points. Yes Leeds were poor in the first half playing too deep, allowing Forest too much respect and to build from the back. There was no tempo to Leeds game.  Yes it was a red card. The guy lunged in two footed from 2 yards away. Gunther clearly committed to yellow card offences on Gradel in the opening 15 minutes.  He also should have seen red at the City ground encounter earlier this season for stamping on Sanchez Watt.  Howson classily put Leeds ahead, and so often when we needed inspiration, he has taken the bull by the horns. Remember Carilsle away in the play-off semi final, or Bristol Rvs last season. A quality player who can easily move into the next level. I thought only Bromby had a good day at the office from a defensive point of view. When we play at a quick tempo at home few sides can live with us and it also lifts the crowd who were subdued today. We got some luck today but we grabbed it with both hands. So often the team with ten men gain the higher moral ground and etch out a draw but not today. So  David Kelly and Billy no mates, you can piss off back to Sherwood Forest because this column doesn’t do sympathy for gobshites. You have spent fortunes on your side, and at best will limp into the play-offs. On the plus side, I thought Livermore looked strong, forceful and confident when he entered the fray and should give us some real options in midfield. Becchio worked like a trojan and Mad max while not having his best game still scored two decisive goals. Elsewhere, Norwich were always going to hammer the worst side in the division, and formless Derby were never going to stop Cardiff city. The bonus was that Preston did to Swansea what they failed to do to Leeds. Forest have fallen out of the play off spots, Burnley have lost again, and Millwall may make it three teams from League One in the top six. In form Reading have sneaked into the top six. We travel next week to one of our least favourite hunting grounds, The new Den. More twists and turns to surely come.

Classic Leeds – A quality goal by a quality player – Tony Currie. FLOWING blond locks, shirt flapping outside his shorts, an unerring ability to make the ball talk – and even a kiss or two for his adoring public. Tony Currie was the very essence of swaggering Seventies cool. The iconic schemer, cut from the same footballing cloth as fellow maverick larger-than-life stars such as Rodney Marsh, Frank Worthington, Charlie George and Stan Bowles, lit up many a late 1970s afternoon at Elland Road – just as he did 30-odd miles down the M1 at Bramall Lane earlier on in that kitsch decade. There may have been strikes, three-day weeks and black-outs in an at times murky political and industrial landscape up north, but the working man still had Currie. Just ask his adoring Sheffield United faithful who unanimously voted him the club’s greatest-ever player and his fellow worshippers at Leeds United – many of whom were resplendent with “Tony Currie Walks on Water” badges during his golden tenure with the club from June 1976 to August 1979. The press and TV men lapped it up. Who of a certain age can’t remember John Motson’s famous “A quality goal from a quality player” line following a virtuoso moment during his heyday with the Blades? Of which there were many. And for those of a Whites persuasion, what about the classic commentary from a young Martin Tyler, then working for Yorkshire TV, following Currie’s famous banana-shot against Southampton in front of the Kop in November 1978! “Oh my goodness..and Tony Currie milks the applause that is so deserved!”The man himself, who turned 61 on New Year’s Day and who is still working at his second home of Bramall Lane – the stage for today’s derby between Currie’s two former White Rose clubs – fondly recalls his time with the Whites, although the fact he and his team-mates were the bridesmaids on three occasions in heart-breaking cup semi-final exits still rankles somewhat. An FA Cup semi-final loss to Manchester United at Hillsborough in April 1977 was followed by successive last-four League Cup exits to Brian Clough’s Nottingham Forest and Lawrie McMenemy’s Southampton in the next two seasons and it was cruel on Currie, who feels his best years as a player arrived at Leeds. Reflecting on his time at Elland Road, the Londoner, who switched to the Whites for £240,000 shortly after the Blades’ relegation from the top flight at the end of the 1975-76 season, said: “I think they got me at the right time. I had three great years there from 26 to 29 and they were probably my best years. “I was playing in a team of internationals; albeit one that was getting on a bit. But we were still a fabulous team. “Of the famous Leeds side, (Johnny) Giles and (Jack) Charlton were the only ones who weren’t there. All the others were and I knew and respected them. “I remember playing four games with Billy (Bremner) and a season with Clarkey (Allan Clarke) and during my time at Leeds we had three semi-finals; one each year – and lost every one! “I do think if the club hadn’t let Don Howe go and Joe Jordan and (Gordon) McQueen, we’d have won something. Jimmy Armfield made some excellent signings such as Paul Hart, Ray Hankin and Arthur Graham, despite having to replace one of the top three or four teams that’s ever lived as the old Leeds team were fantastic. “But Jordan and McQueen going took the shine off the squad a bit. They were action players, one straight down the middle at centre-back in McQueen and a strong centre-forward in Joe. “We lost to Man United in my first season at Hillsborough and I just think we hit Nottingham Forest at the wrong time in the next season. “That side went on to win European Cups and were a great team. But we should have got through against Southampton in the last one as we were 2-0 up with 20 minutes to go at Elland Road and it ended 2-2. Then we went down there and lost 1-0.”Providing countless halcyon moments that remain truly etched in Elland Road folklore remain Currie’s lasting epitaph from his time at the club, from that shot against Saints to his screamer on the opening day of the 1978-79 campaign against Arsenal at Highbury, with the classy Cockney replying in kind with a ferocious strike from the tightest of angles after fellow midfield magician Liam Brady had taken centre stage with a similar breathtaking strike. Currie’s effort even won applause from the Gunners faithful standing in the North Bank that baking-hot day and no-one could ever accuse him of not being good value during his crowd-pleasing career. On the affection he drew from supporters across the land, Currie – who won 11 of his 17 England caps while at Leeds – said: “I had nine years at Sheffield, three at Leeds and four at QPR and I think the fans enjoyed what I gave them. I used to react with the crowd, because I could hear them while concentrating on the game and I used to like having a bit of banter with them as well. “I can’t really say that any were any better than the others. All were absolutely fantastic and the Leeds fans were great to me. “I obviously remember the banana shot. It was shown on ITV and I think it was the goal of the season, and then there was the Arsenal one on the first day of the season. I watch them both on the tape every now and again to cheer myself up!” He added: “All the old players say they wouldn’t change things for the world and nor would I; there were some great teams. “However, now you can play on pitches like Wembley every week and it’s different. I think teams are more skilful all round now with full-backs and centre-backs who have as much skill as anyone. Whereas in my day, you were playing in three inches of mud.” All good things must come to an end, but it was with genuine sadness that Currie headed back to his native London, for family reasons, to join QPR – a club who famously rejected him as a schoolboy – in the late summer of 1979 in a £450,000 deal. So endeth a love-in for Leeds fans with the man universally known as TC, although most United followers of a certain age will always have a place in their hearts for a gifted and classy operator who is still regarded as one of the best players to have ever donned the famous white shirt and one who had few peers in his pomp. On exiting Leeds, Currie, who went one better on the cup front with Rangers and captained them in their FA Cup final replay against Spurs in May 1982 – only to again miss out on the big prize – said: “It was down to family reasons and nothing to do with Leeds United why I had to get back to London. But it was a wrench as I’d have loved to have stayed and played in Europe as I’d never done that before. “In my last season, we actually qualified for the Uefa Cup and I was disappointed not to play in Europe. “Leeds went a bit downhill after I went and it took them a while to get a replacement schemer. I remember they got Alex Sabella and Gary Hamson in, from Sheffield United funnily enough. Gary’s on my table for the Leeds game!” Leeds may have been a love affair, but Currie’s time with the Blades has pretty much been a marriage, with the Bramall Lane legend coming back to the club he holds a torch for in 1988 to become their Football in the Community Officer, a role he filled for 20 years. Pretty much an adopted Yorkshireman, having spent most of his adult life up north, Currie has also worked at the Blades academy and is currently the club ambassador, representing them at everything from functions and shop openings to providing hospitality on match days, while being one of the most recognisable figures in the Steel City. He said: “I moved back up from London and did the community job for 20 years and it was lovely to be coming to the club every day. Eventually, I went to the academy for three or four years and it’s been great to be associated with the club. “I think it’s now my 32nd year involved with the club. Nine years playing and 20 with the community and I’ve just done three years as ambassador… it adds up to a lot of years.” The Louth branch took Tony Currie to Dundalk 14 years ago. Sometimes your heroes don’t let you down as a person, and Tony Currie was exactly like that………..and yes that is a youthful Mickey Foley and Paddy Kettle.