March 2010

 The Run In : Leeds United : Saturday, 3 April 2010, Leeds United v Swindon, 15:00 , Monday, 5 April 2010, Yeovil v Leeds United, 12:30 Saturday, 10 April 2010 Leeds United v Southend, 15:00 Tuesday, 13 April 2010 Carlisle v Leeds United, 19:45 Saturday, 17 April 2010 Gillingham v Leeds United, 15:00 , Sat 24 April 2010 Leeds United v MK Dons, 15:00 Saturday, 1 May 2010 Charlton v Leeds United, 15:00 Saturday, 8 May 2010 Leeds v Bristol Rvs, 15:00

Millwall Run In :Friday, 2 April 2010, Millwall v Brentford, 19:45, Monday, 5 April 2010, Colchester v Millwall, 13:00, Saturday, 10 April 2010, Millwall v Gillingham, 15:00 , Tuesday, 13 April 2010, Yeovil v Millwall, 19:45 , Friday, 16 April 2010, Huddersfield v Millwall, 19:45 , Saturday, 24 April 2010, Millwall v Leyton Orient, 15:00 , Saturday, 1 May 2010, Tranmere v Millwall, 15:00

Sat 28th March 2010. Norwich City 1-0 Leeds United. Att-25,445 Team : 12 Higgs, 06 Naylor, 21 Lowry, 33 Collins, 04 Doyle, 08 Kilkenny (Johnson 86), 14 Howson, 22 Hughes (Kandol 90+2 red card), 09 Beckford, 10 Becchio (Grella 15), 23 Snodgrass, Unused Substitutes : 01 Ankergren, 26 Bromby, 28 Gradel, 07 Dickov, 13 Grella The Racing Post on Friday described Leeds post January collapse akin to Devon Lough falling yards from the line in the Grand National.  Frazer from Cheers could do a thesis on our painful demise whilst across the Pennines, the kick up the arse we gave Man United in early January seems to have worked in reverse. Can we play them again please ? For those Leeds fans looking to Gerry Cunningham for all the answers, I am happy to pass on the number for the Samarathans in Newry. Now down to Saturday’s fixture.  Once again Simon Grayson shook up his starting eleven. This time he made five changes. In goal Shane Higgs was recalled after Ankergren’s brace of howlers against Millwall, Collins made his debut in central defence,  Shane Lowry went to left back, Neil Kilkenny came back in midfield and Jermaine Beckford partnered Luciano Becchio up front.  It was disappointing that teenage Arsenal prodigee, Sanchez didn’t even make the bench. A pre-match huddle before kick off was designed to show unity and determination in the squad. United matched Norwich City’s diamond formation with Micky Doyle as anchor man (and glued to Wes Hoolahan) and Robert Snodgrass fronted the diamond. Disaster struck Leeds after 11 minutes when a wild kick by Nelson knocked Snodgrass out cold. Whilst not malicious, it was certainly reckless and the decision not to book Nelson was at minimum poor. Mike Grella came on for the injured Argentinian. Leeds were the better side in the first half, matching the Canaries in every sector of the pitch, although only half chances were being created. The final ball to Grella and Beckford was often too high against big centre halves or misplaced. The second half continued in similar vein with the home side becoming increasingly frustrated with Leeds glue like tactics. Chris Martin came on for Elliot on 62 minutes and McNamee replaced the ineffective Hoolahan with 17 minutes to go. Howson and Grella went close . Although Norwich won a number of corners, Collins and Naylor were looking strong at the back. Kilkenny was replaced by Bradley Johnson ( a very strange and in my view costlysubstitution) with four minutes left, and the Aussie showed his frustration by refusing the hand of the manger when he came off. In the last minute Norwich broke down the right. Johnson didn’t get tight and allowed the cross to come in with Martin nipping in ahead of Collins to head home the winner. It was undeserved but Norwich had used their bench to more effective use, when Simon Grayson altered the one area of the side that was in control, our midfield. So often in early season he got those decisions spot on with the likes ofGradel (aka Orient) coming on and firing home the winner.  It was tough on Leeds but with Snodgrass on a booking and proving less and less effective as the game went on, why not throw on  Gradel? Then game finished worse for United when Kandol was a judged to have head butted Martin within seconds of coming on. Norwich won the match to basically secure the title and go 11 points clear. Elsewhere, Millwall won 5-0 at home to Stockport to go level on points with United and within one goal of the goal difference. Swindon won at H’pool, something Leeds failed to do, and Charlton drew at Huddersfield. The 606 phone in lines were jammed with Leeds fans signaling their displeasure at Ken Bates for no investment in the squad except loan players, whilst Southampton were splashing �2M on Lambert and Barnard plus another �500,000 on other players. Personally,  Simon Grayson must take a lot of the blame with chopping and changing tactics. Today was an opportuntity to defeat Norwich but whilst Norwich were putting on an in form forward, Leeds reaction was to put on an out of form left sided player who had a nightmare against Millwall. Slightly baffling. Good managers learn from their mistakes. Simon Grayson has a notebook full of them since January. There is still a chance we can hold on to second, but that depends on how we utilise our best players in the final eight games and certainly securing six points from our two Easter fixtures is a must. Can a side that is nervous at home change that during the final run in ? Can a Leeds side win in front of Monaghan’s Terry McQuaid ? Millwall are in from and have it for the first time this season in their own hands. Psychologically, playing next Friday night in their London derby versus Brentford can put them clear at the top. None the less a tricky fixture. Swindon are closing in on automatic promotion and face Leeds the next day. Charlton haven’t gone away. As usual being a Leeds fan should come with a government health warning. Grayson said: “I firmly believe the group of players we have got will get us to where we want to be. If they keep playing like they did here for the rest of the season then I am sure we will be fine.”He added: “I thought we dictated the game from start to finish and as a group we are hugely disappointed with the result. Football has a funny habit of kicking you where it hurts at times. “We set ourselves up to stifle them, which worked very well, and we also got the ball down and passed it. We didn’t over-create, I know that, but I thought there was only one team out there who looked likely to win it. “We just couldn’t do the most difficult thing in football and that’s sticking the ball in the back of the net. “Nobody ever said being a manager was an easy job but you’ve always got to stay positive and after the disappointment of losing to Millwall the other night there were a lot of positives to take out of this game, even though we ended up losing it as well.” Norwich manager Paul Lambert was delighted with the way his side stuck to their task. He said: “It was a very tough game and there weren’t many chances which often happens in a match between two good, evenly-matched sides. “I can’t speak highly enough of the lads for coming through it. They’ve kept going right to the end and that’s happened quite a few times this season.”  

The Road since January.

Results since January – 16 points from 42 points (14 matches )

One Point v Wycombe, L Orient, Hartlepool  Brighton, Huddersfield, Brentford = 7 pts

Three points v Colchester, Oldham Athletic, Tranmere Rovers = 9 Pts

Zero points v Exeter, Swindon Town, Walsall, Southampton, Millwall = 0 Pts

Three Leeds players came in on loan. Going the other way is  Andy Robinson to Tranmere on loan and Liam Darville to Rotherham. Also, Lincoln City have extended the loan deal of Leeds striker Davide Somma until the end of the season. The South African forward, who was originally brought in on a one-month deal, has scored five goals in five starts for Chris Sutton’s side. The 24-year-old joined Leeds in October but was loaned out to Lincoln’s League Two rivals Chesterfield a month later, where he made just three appearances. Leeds have placed a 24-hour recall clause in the deal. Let’s look at the players we got in. Leeds United have signed Preston North End defender Neill Collins on loan until the end of the season. He will provide cover for Patrick Kisnorbo, who will miss the rest of the season with an Achilles injury. The 26-year-old Scot began his career at Queen’s Park and has helped both Sunderland and Wolves win promotion to the Premier League. He joined Preston on loan at the start of the current season before signing a three-and-a-half-year deal in January.Former Preston manager Alan Irvine signed Collins after 17 loan appearances for the Deepdale club, but the defender has figured just five times under new manager Darren Ferguson. Leeds United manager Simon Grayson told the club website that he was delighted to have Collins on board. “Due to Paddy’s injury on Monday night I felt it was important to bring someone in,” he said. “Neill has good experience at Sunderland, Wolves and Preston, and he will have an important role to play. “He is an aggressive centre-back who I think will be a big addition to the squad at what is an important time.” Collins will go straight into the United squad to face leaders Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday. Aston Villa defender Shane Lowry has joined Leeds United for a second loan spell. The 20-year-old  signed on  Thursday until the end of the season. Lowry made eight appearances for Leeds in his initial loan spell before a knee injury forced an early return to the Premier League side. Manager Simon Grayson has already strengthened his squad with the signing of Preston defender Neil Collins until the end of the campaign. Leeds United have signed Arsenal forward Sanchez Watt on loan until the end of the season. The 19-year-old has made three appearances for the Gunners this season, all in the Carling Cup, scoring one goal v WBA.  He also featured against Liverpool and Man City in the CC. Watt also spent a month on loan with Southend earlier this season. This season he found the net five times on nine occasions in the Gunners reserves. Leeds manager Simon Grayson told the club’s website: “He can play either wide left or as a striker and he brings extra competition for places.” This guy could be a good signing.

Mon March 22nd. Leeds United 0-2 Millwall. Att – 21,348. 01 Ankergren , 03 Kisnorbo (White 8), 06 Naylor, 26 Bromby, 04 Doyle (Kilkenny 63), 14 Howson, 16 Johnson (Gradel 69), 22 Hughes, 07 Dickov, 10 Becchio, 23 Snodgrass, Unused Substitutes : 12 Higgs, 02 Crowe,15 McSheffrey, 13 Grella. “The worst performance I have ever  seen from a Leeds team”. The words of Padna Lane who along with five other Louth branch members attended the match on a poor night for all Leeds fans. Leeds put in an abysmal display in front of 6 Louth Branch members at the match and another few watching the horror show in Bennets of Bridge Street. In-form Millwall blew the race for second place and automatic promotion in League One wide open with a stunning win over Leeds at Elland Road. Steve Morison made it six goals in four games on 11 minutes when he fired in at the far post after fine build-up play. The home side were on the back foot in the early stages as the rampant Lions pushed forward looking for a second. Leeds settled and had chances either side of half-time but substitute Shaun Batt wrapped up the win on 80 minutes. Batt latched on to a throw in and cut inside from close to the corner flag, beating two men before firing a low shot that somehow squeezed past Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren at his near post. Leeds were without their 21-goal top scorer Jermaine Beckford who missed out with a hamstring injury and they needed to be at their very best to cope with a Lions side who have now won 10 of their last 12 league games. Millwall were 21 points adrift of Leeds in January but are now three points behind in the race for second place, with both Charlton and Swindon only one point behind the Lions.The Yorkshire club have been in the top two since August but four wins from their 13 league games in 2010 means the prospects of being dragged into the play-offs, where they lost last year to Millwall, is now very real. Batt’s goal was a blow for Leeds who had created opportunities as they recovered from an uncharacteristically shaky start. Leeds’s slow start got worse when defender Patrick Kisnorbo exited on a stretcher after collapsing in agony in the build-up to the opening goal. The Australian defender suffered a suspected Achilles injury and is likely to face a long period on the sidelines. Kisnorbo’s injury seemed to throw the Leeds defence and Millwall could have gone further ahead as they laid siege to the Leeds goal. The home side held firm and grew into the game as the half wore on. Jonny Howson had their best effort of the first period just before half-time but he dragged a right-foot shot from the edge of the box wide in the 44th minute. Millwall always looked dangerous on the break and Paul Robinson’s header clipped the top of the crossbar in the last action before the home team were booed off by a sizeable portion of the 21,348 crowd. Richard Snodgrass could have done better on 54 minutes when he blazed over from 15 yards, after a fine cut back from Paul Dickov. But Millwall remained a threat on the break and the lively Morison could have added in a second after 66 minutes from a swift counter attack, but he sliced his shot into the side netting. Simon Grayson : “They competed better than us, they played better than us at times and from one to 11 they were better. There is obviously a lack of confidence in the team. We have to roll up our sleeves and try and put  it right”. Some of Simon Grayson’s substitutions were baffling, ie Kilkenny on in midfield where he hardly got a touch. In the past his substitutions have worked a dream, but of late he has cut a lonely figure on the touchline wondering where has the Leeds United side gone that defeated Man United and drew at Spurs. Personally, I don’t subscribe to the view that the Man United result has thrown our season into disarray. Too many games with the same players and then widespread changes possibly may be closer to the truth. Look at Reading. They had a fantastic run in the FA Cup, got knocked out and their league form has kicked on irreversibly. 

Sat 20th of March. Weekend Round up. Swindon followed up their decent 1-0 win at Southampton with an injury town equaliser at home to Norwich City. Colchester lost to a last minute goal to ten man Walsall. Leeds face Millwall with a win vital not only for morale but to keep comfortable distance from the London club who have made an impressive late run. Last year’s Play-Off loss should be motivation enough. Leeds keeper Shane Higgs may make the bench after spending most of the season sidelined with a thigh injury. Defender Ben Parker is also in line for a return along with striker Tresor Kandol and winger Max Gradel.  Millwall are hopeful record goalscorer Neil Harris will recover from a back problem after missing training. On-loan striker Jon Obika is back with the Lions after a brief return to parent club Tottenham midweek and will start on the bench. Leeds United manager Simon Grayson told BBC Radio Leeds: “When you beat Charlton 4-0 it’s a great result and they’ll come here very confident because of that and the good run they are on. “There is a big rivalry between the two clubs and I don’t think there will be any need to add an extra edge to the game. “They have some very good players, but it’s a game we are very confident of winning. We have the right focus for this game, but we know it’s not do or die whatever happens. “There is a lot riding on this game and that adds pressure. I’d like to think the players will relish that pressure and will enjoy the challenge of trying to gain promotion.”

Sat 13th of March 2010.  Sounthampton 1-0 Leeds United. 01 Ankergren, 03 Kisnorbo, 06 Naylor, 32 White (Bromby 46), 04 Doyle, 14 Howsony, 15 McSheffrey (Kilkenny 62), 22 Hughes, 09 Beckford, 10 Becchio (Gradel 77 ), 23 Snodgrass, Substitutes : 25 Martin, 02 Crowe, 16 Johnson, 07 Dickov. Ex Leeds United misfit defender, Dan Harding scored the only goal as second-placed Leeds slumped to only their fifth defeat in League One this season with a 1-0 loss at Southampton. A crowd of 30,794 saw Southampton dominate the first half and the hosts should have been further in front at the interval. Harding’s goal came after 25 minutes when Rickie Lambert and Jason Puncheon combined to leave him with a tap-in from six yards for his third of the season. Southampton, who still hold hopes of reaching the play-offs, had plenty of chances to add to Harding’s third goal of the season. Radhi Jaidi was unmarked when he headed over and Puncheon hit the outside of the post after 20 minutes. Andy Hughes cleared off the line from Lee Barnard as Leeds struggled to stay in touch.
Whites manager Simon Grayson attempted to change things at half-time, sending on Leigh Bromby to bolster their defence. Leeds were more competitive after the break and the nearest they came to snatching an equaliser was a stoppage-time shot from Robert Snodgrass which went narrowly wide. Realistically, except for Norwich doing a whammy, United are more looking over their shoulder than chasing the Canaries. Still we have to ho there and it would be nice to complete the double over the whinger Lampert. Next up it’s a real six pointer on Monday week against Millwall. We will be in Wisemans for the live Sky encounter. Simon Grayson : “We allowed them too much time on the ball. We gave the ball away too cheaply. The disappointing thing was that we didn’t even work their goalkeeper although we were better inn the second half. We were disappointed and didn’t have the quality that we showed in pervious games. The decision making at times were poor, even in the last minute we tried to walk the ball into the net. We know we can play a lot better and too many of our players didn’t turn up today.” Southampton manager Alan Pardew : “I thought we were resilient, I can’t remember them hurting our goal too much. “It’s a shame that these two teams have ended up in this division because they are great clubs. “There is only one question mark against this side now and that’s consistency and that’s the next thing we need to tick off.”Hugely disappointing. Supporting Leeds should come with a government health warning.

Weds March 10th. Leeds United manager Simon Grayson insists Andy Robinson still has a future at the League One club. The 30-year-old midfielder last played for Leeds in their Johnstone’s Paint Trophy win over Grimsby in November. “Robbo is still part of our plans, but other players are ahead of him now,” Grayson told BBC Radio Leeds. “He still has an opportunity to play his part this season. But he’s been bypassed by other players and that happens in football.”It’s probably tough on Fat Boy, who may justifiably feel that he was worth a punt in recent weeks. It’s best he works hard and sheds a few pounds to prove himself in the run in. “Another player to miss out on Tuesday’s win at Tranmere Rovers was injured loanee defender Shane Lowry. Grayson explained: “He has gone back to Aston Villa to get more treatment and some scans. So we’ll have to see what happens with those. It’s disappointing to lose him again. “His loan expires at the weekend, but we do have the option to extend that. But it all depends on his injury as to whether he can come back here or not. “I haven’t needed to move into the loan market again because we’ve got players coming back from injury. “In the last few weeks we’ve had four or five key players out, but now most are coming back, so the squad is looking healthy. “If the right players come along that I feel we need I’m sure the chairman will back me to get them. But I’m very happy with the squad I’ve got at the moment.”

Tues March 9th. Tranmere Rvs 1-4 Leeds United. 01 Ankergren, 03 Kisnorbo, 06 Naylor, 32 White, 04 Doyle, 14 Howson, 15 McSheffrey, 22 Hughes, 09 Beckford (Dickov 82), 10 Becchioyellow card (Kandol 76), 23 Snodgrass (Gradel 76), Substitutes : 25 Martin, 26 Bromby, 08 Kilkenny, 16 Johnson. Leeds boosted their hopes of automatic promotion from League One with a deserved win over struggling Tranmere. Robert Snodgrass’ angled free-kick gave the visitors a ninth-minute lead. Jermaine Beckford’s 16th-minute penalty doubled Leeds’ lead before John Welsh pulled one back for Tranmere three minutes later with a low drive. But Luciano Becchio headed in a third before Beckford expertly lobbed Rovers keeper Luke Daniels to move Leeds five points clear of third-placed  Charlton. Tranmere manager Les Parry told BBC Radio Merseyside: “I think the first half was our poorest performance since we’ve taken over. “We had a little pop at the lads at half time and I think we were unfortunate to lose the second half to be honest. “But the game was dead by then, it was a poor performance in the first half – just a comedy of errors. The referee got one decision right in the first half, the penalty. He gave all the 50 50s to Leeds.” An idiot who gave no credit for whitewashing the side that beat in form Southampton a few days earlier.

Sat March 6th. Leeds 1-1 Brentford. 01 Ankergren, 03 Kisnorbo, 26 Bromby, 32 White (Johnson 79), 04 Doyle, 14 Howson, 15 McSheffrey, 22 Hughes (Michalik 52), 09 Beckford, 10 Becchio (Dickov 79), 23 Snodgrass, Substitutes 25 Martin, 17 Michalik, 28 Gradel, 20 Kandol. Jermaine Beckford scored his first goal in seven games to salvage a point for Leeds, but the draw leaves them only two points above third-placed Charlton. Sam Wood missed a great chance to put Brentford ahead when through one-on-one on Casper Ankergren, who denied him. Leeds then took control but the Bees snatched the lead when Ben Strevens forced the ball home at a corner. Gary McSheffrey crossed for Beckford to level and Lubo Michalik then hit a Brentford post in injury-time. Four points now separate Leeds from Norwich with at last the noose around our heads of a game in hand turning into three pointes. Simon Grayson : “It’s all about results at this stage of the season, it doesn’t matter how you play, so to play win and still not win is frustrating. “We played well today and I think it’s the best we’ve played for a number of weeks now. We passed it very well and we didn’t get our rewards today. “But if we perform like that for the rest of the season I’m sure well get to where we want to get to this season.” Brentford manager Andy Scott : “I always had the confidence that we would adapt well and that’s what we did. When we came into this league we didn’t know how the young lads would cope, but they’ve come on leaps and bounds. “It’s very pleasing and it goes to show that we are capable of performing on the big stages.” I had the pleasure of the company of Greg Tipping, Conal Tipping, Gerard Kirk and Sean Cunningham at this match. To a man we were astonished with the substitutions, where Kandol and Gradel should have been utilised. Dickov should not have entered the fray, White was playing well and Michalik contributed to the goal conceded. Leeds missed enough chances to win three games, but confidence is still fragile and the crowd were understandably unimpressed at the end of 95 minutes.

March 3rd. Leeds United have signed striker Paul Dickov on a short-term contract until the end of the season. The 37-year-old has been training with Simon Grayson’s side since February after being released by Leicester City. Dickov has made over 400 appearances in a 20-year career, including tenures at Manchester City, Blackburn and under Grayson’s management at Blackpool. The former Scotland international will make his debut in the reserves at Huddersfield Town on Wednesday. Dickov began the season at Leicester but joined Derby County on loan until January before being released from his contract by mutual consent. Leeds made an attempt to sign the striker last month but the move was blocked as Fifa rules state a player can only represent a maximum of two clubs in one season in the same country. Grayson told the club website: “He has been training with us, we all know about him and what he will bring to the squad over the next few months. “He brings experience both on the pitch and in and around the dressing room, and he is a good signing for the club.”Is he better than Gradel or Kandol, probably not. Is he another Freedman, probably not. Many feel that this is not a worthy addition to our squad. Time will tell.