FA Carling Premiership
Leeds United 1 - 0 West Ham United
(Half-time: 0 - 0)
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|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte, Batty, McPhail, Bowyer, Kewell, Bridges, Smith (Huckerby 58)||Hopkin, Mills, Bakke, Robinson|
|West Ham United||Hislop, Ferdinand, Ruddock, Margas, Lomas, Foe (Cole 70), Lampard, Moncur, Keller, Wanchope, Kitson||Potts , Carrick, Newton, Forrest|
|Leeds United||Harte 57|
|West Ham United|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Leeds United||Bowyer, Bridges|
|West Ham United||Moncur, Foe, Lomas|
|Leeds United||West Ham United|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||3||0|
|Jabba||Forever bursting bubbles|
|Stotty||Leeds v West Ham|
|Nick Allen||vs West Ham|
|The Observer||Harte beats strong|
|The Guardian||Cole truth nothing but the truth|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Harte finds a way past West Ham|
|The Times||Leeds gorge on good times|
|The Sunday Times||Harte puts new life into Leeds|
|Express Sport||Leeds suffer labour pains|
|The Independent on Sunday||Leeds enjoy Harte attack|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||It all adds up to a real title challenge|
|BBC||Leeds ease past hapless Hammers|
|Carlingnet||Leeds United 1 - 0 West Ham United|
Watch out folks: one of these days I'm going to be on time for a game, and then our luck is sure to run out. The excuse today was (a) long traffic queue at J39 of the M1, and (b) food taking over 30 minutes to turn up in the (now sold to Bass and thus the purveyor of the worst pint of Tetleys I've had in Leeds) Firkin on Woodhouse Moor. Ho hum, charged down Beeston Hill catching an eyeful of the usual boxing-match-passed-off-as-football on the pitch halfway down and made it into my seat just in time to see Moncur being booked for no obvious reason. But then I saw it was Graham Poll refereeing, so I realised that there didn't really need to be a reason....
This game had been billed as the Lee v Frank show, with the two young England midfielders vying for a place in the play-off side. Lampard was mystifyingly selected to make his debut ahead of the in-form Bowyer a couple of weeks ago, and Peter Beardsley was in the crowd today to pass on his views to Kevin Keegan. If he left after 80 minutes, his report will have read "Frank Who?". Even so, Bowyer's industry in the middle of the park were once again put in the shade by the old man in the Leeds side: David Batty is having his best season ever with the club and England will have little heart and steel without him against Scotland.
And so to the football. Much of the first half was one-way traffic - and we are definitely talking Leeds Loop here. Harry was having a one-man duel with Shaka Hislop. Hislop was definitely on top, tipping over one long shot, catching another, and doing enough to put Harry off when he had a free header from a Kelly cross.
A cross from Michael Bridges on the left was inches away from Alan Smith's head - and caused Hislop some problems without the contact, since he'd positioned himself to try to keep out the expected close-range header. Smith carried the ball past the defence and cut it back too flat when Lee Bowyer was waiting on the edge of the 6-yard box.
Despite the Leeds pressure, Ruddock and Margas (who had been sent off and had a stinker respectively in last year's game) were playing well at the heart of the West Ham defence, but after picking up a booking for timewasting, Lomas was looking more tentative than normal. And from tentative tackles, he moved on to tentative headers in the 2nd half: a weak clearance landed at the feet of Ian Harte just inside the area. Harte had time (too much time) to trap the ball, look up and use his "weak" right foot to blast the ball through a narrow gap and inside the post. 1-0, and the relief in the stadium was palpable.
Immediately after the goal, Darren Huckerby replaced Alan Smith, and the West Ham defence looked shakier than ever. Three times in that last 30 minutes we saw Huckerby heading towards the goal, and each chance was wasted: two were wide and one straight at Hislop. It remained 1-0 and West Ham were still in it.
All of which made the last 10-15 minutes interesting to say the least. Joe Cole came on for Foe, and West Ham finally managed to link defence midfield and attack together. To be quite honest, Cole didn't do that much and gave the ball away on several occasions - but that still shone out like a beacon in the lack-lustre, injury-ridden West Ham side. A foul on Cole just outside the box gave West Ham a good chance from the free-kick, and Lampard produced a good shot that found a gap in the wall. Fortunately for us, Nigel Martyn - who had almost nothing to do prior to this - was equal to it, throwing himself to his left to push the ball round the post. After that, with the rain sleeting down, he had to make two further good saves - and more importantly hang on to the ball as the Hammers' long range shots were followed up well, and one spill one have meant an equaliser.
Still, we held out, got the three points and remain top of the league. I still don't think we'll be there by May, but the more points we can stash away while others slip up, the better chance we'll have of sitting pretty in a Champions League spot. The team again looked absolutely out on their feet by the end of the 90 minutes, and it can only be a matter of time before someone finds the energy and inspiration to take advantage of this - but I'll be smiling in the meantime....
"Harry Redknapp, he's a wanker, he's a wanker" bellowed the Gelderdenders.
The saggy old cloth cat Bagpuss faced West Ham manager was up out of his seat for the umpteenth time. This time haranguing the referee and his trusty assistants as Foe cut Bowyer in two with a rash challenge on the half way line. What exactly Harry was arguing about I don't know as the inevitable yellow card was flashed at the Carlton Palmer double of a gangly streak of piss midfielder. Harry responded to the crowd's taunts with a little wave and a wry smile.
I like Harry Redknapp - he's an honest guy, he's passionate about the game and he has produced a half-decent team of late. However he will be kicking himself this morning. Harry, a man renowned for his own attacking wing play a few decades back, had instructed his team to go all out for a nil-niler. With Lomas at right back and the turgid Margas and barrel chested Ruddock at the heart of the defence it was a hapless tactic adopted by the Hammer's chief. It was only a matter of time before we scored and then Redknapp would have to adopt Plan B.
When he did change things with the introduction of the prodigious child protg with the squeakiest voice since Alan Ball took some helium, namely Joe Cole, our visitors looked more than capable of snatching an undeserved but not entirely surprising equaliser.
There has been much hype about the young Mr Cole and from what I saw on Saturday he has a long and exciting career ahead of him at the highest level. Then again somebody somewhere thought David Robertson was good once. As soon as Cole's voice breaks and he no longer sounds like a distressed fax machine then people may start to take him seriously. I bet Harry wishes he'd started with him against us.
Let's get one thing straight. Leeds did not play badly nor did they play the Jellied Eelers off the park. We did enough to win the game without creating too many chances. The team balance looked good except we still look a bit unsure of who is actually playing on the right of midfield. I have also noticed that Harry tracks back a lot more than he was during the early part of the season and we no longer get overrun in the middle of the park.
>From the start Leeds were camped in our opponents half. The pressure increased slowly but the Elland Road cauldron never reached boiling point. The tempo was just too low. No apparent urgency but still the neat, crisp passing and movement that we have become accustomed to.
2 half-chances for Smith both made by the ever-improving Bridges, and 2 well saved snapshots from the outstanding Kewell were little tangible reward for almost total first half dominance.
No half-time penalty shootout debacle but instead a promise from our affable, and no doubt affluent, chairman that season ticket prices will be frozen for next year. A good bit of PR from PR. "Brilliant" I thought until I realised that my season ticket will increase 6 fold from the privileged Bond holders 50-odd quid back to the pleb's 335 smackers a year. Hmmmmmph.
No changes at the break. A bit surprising since McFrail was living up to his name and was about as useful as a handbrake on a canoe. Hoppy or Eirik would have been a better choice.
Leeds upped the ante and the pace increased - at last we looked like we meant business. For 10 minutes we kept the ball and passed it about as if we were 7-0 up and had been timewarped back to the 70s. West Ham were chasing shadows. Kewell tormented Lomas, Bowyer eased purposefully forward and Bridges showed flashes of brilliance the like not seen since the halcyon days of L'enfant Terrible himself - Monsieur Cantona le vermin rouge.
After an hour Leeds made the inevitable breakthrough. A poor headed clearance from the traumatised Lomas (he only seems happy when he's twatting people) fell to the feet of our nephew Ian. The situation was crying out for a first time volley into the top corner - but no ! the softly spoken left-back controlled the ball with consummate ease on his right peg and within the blink of an badger's eye had lashed the ball across the wrong-footed Hislop. The Kop went wild. Redknapp's face visible sagged like an old lady losing at Bingo with one number remaining.
Huckleberry came on. It's a lottery as to how well this guy is going to play. He seems to have about as much control over his limbs as a pissed up Douglas Barder. Still his pace frightens defences and he even manages to take the ball with him sometimes. It's safe to say Composure is not his middle name - Rodney (as in Wallace not Trotter) would be my choice!
10 minutes of more Leeds pressure bore no fruit and then Harry R introduced his wonderkid into the fray.
Up 'til then our defence had appeared tighter than a fish's eyelid but it's amazing what a little bit of pressure and doubt can do to grown men. The Hammers created 4 half-chances in quick succession and Nigel had to be on his toes to deny the largely anonymous Lampard twice.
Leeds held firm and we still had time for Huckerby to go clanking through with his metal legs only to shoot tamely at an advancing Hisplop (sic)
The final whistle brought sighs of relief and secured a top-of-the-table spot for another week at least.
"Harry Redknapp's claret and blue Army" sang the Eastenders incessantly and defiantly. A long fruitless journey for our soft Southern friends who must have spent the length of the M1 wondering what might have been.
Harry Redknapp - you are a wanker but a loverable one.
Scores on the doors -------------------- Martyn 7 Top save from pretty boy Lampard's free kick. He must have been bored out of his jockstrap most of the game Kelly 7 Considering he's been out for a year he's still one hell of a player. Steady game. Harte 7.5 Still dodgy at the back but a class act going forward and took his goal like a lightly peppered steak. Woody 7 Dominant in the air. Played Wanchope very well. Rads 6.5 Stood chatting to Nigel most of the game. Had a crafy fag after 65 mins whilst leaning against a post. Batts 7 Does he ever play shite ? Does he bollocks. Bowyer 7 Livewire. Better 2nd half and got more involved and drove us forward well. McFrail 6 The only Premier League player made entirely from balsa wood. Improved as the game wore on but still has the tendency to pass straight away when we know he can carry the ball well too. Smith 6 A bit quiet. Had a lot of homework this week and is revising for his mocks so let's not be too harsh on him. Bridgo 7.5 Class act. Best young striker we've ever had. I love this man. Freckles and all. Harry 9 Spit roasted Lomas who must have been tempted to jump into one of the wheelchairs in the West Stand. Subs ---- Hucks 5 Basically a cripple with pace. No idea about anything to do with football but I wouldn't swap him for the world. Kits not required to go in the wash ----------------------------------- Robinson Bakke Mills Hopkin Naive Young Manager ------------------- O'Leary 7 To be sure, to be sure.
Almost a role reversal of the Sheff Wed game - we dominated for 75 minutes and lost the plot badly for the last 15 (don't know if we sat back, or if they turned up the presure. But I am sure that it wasn't just down to the introduction of The Boywonder, who looked neat, did OK, but contrary to what you might read, did not nearly win the league for them single-handed in the 15 minutes he was on.) I think its more likely that it was all a result of us suddenly giving up all of the good habits of the previous 75mins - hard tackling, closing down and passing to feet (not hoofing it 50 yards aimlessly).
While we never looked like tonking the Hammers, we never looked anything except winners either - we spent most of the game in their half, they hardly had any possession - no meaningful shots for Martyn to save until that free kick (what the hell happened to the wall??), which he saved well. The combined efforts of Ferdinand and Hislop were almost enough to keep Leeds out. Lomas vs Kewell was very funny, the guy didn't have a prayer.
Again our midfield was the controlling influence on the match, Batty was immense, Bowyer out wide again tended to drift inside to do anything decent. I am a McPhail fan and I thought he had a good steady game, with some lovely feints and short passes that will split defences when his teammates learn to read the passes. Kewell was excellent doing all his usual stuff - the exceptional has become an every week expectation of him. But as usual he missed some decent chances, notably a free header from the penalty spot after 15 minutes, but then he had two shots tipped over by the keeper. He is a big problem for other teams.
Apart from the odd hurried clearance the defence looked like it had regained some of its shape after last weeks game. Woody and Lucas being largely (although not as large as Ruddock's shorts) in control of everything that came their way. Uncle and nephew had it sorted down the wings.
Bridges was again a handfull - have we ever had a forward who can bring almost any ball that's played to him under control so well and so quickly? He is turning out to be an inspired buy, causing almost as much trouble for defenders as Harry.
Smith did miss a couple in the first half that he should have buried, but I think that he is still worth his place. Certainly over Huckerby who is still a one-trick pony - sometimes it works sometimes it dont. Its alright saying he nearly scored 4 times on saturday, but on each occasion he had support and a better player would have squared the ball across the 6-yard box for the teammate at the far post. That said the tactic of saving him for the last 20mins. is spot on.
One thing on any new forward we may or may not buy - who would you leave out of the current 11 to accommodate him?
the goal: The ball's moved across the midfield to Kelly and then Bowyer out right, he lines up to cross with his right, checks back out and crosses from the angle of the box with his left. Lomas should have had a shout at the back post, but instead lobs a clearing header out, Harte collects, controls, and blasts home with his right from 16 yards, inside the near post. Nice finish.
MARTYN -7- points saver again
KELLY -7- substantial but understated contribution
HARTE -8- as above, plus winning goal
RADEBE -7- steady
WOODGATE -7- and again
BOWYER -7- out of position, but better than Lampard or Cole.
BATTY -9- MOTM controlled the game
KEWELL -8- dynamite, Lomas is stilllooking for him
SMITH -6- quietish - could have done better with the chances.
BRIDGES -7- a constant problem
HUCKERBY - a headless 6-
Quote of the day - Hoppo in the prog -Q "what is your fondest childhood memory?" - A "You don't have many of those when you've got ginger hair"
Copy from Football Unlimited of 31/10/1999.
The scoreline against a depleted and unambitious West Ham, might not have sent shockwaves through the ranks of their title rivals, but the quality and increasing maturity displayed by David O'Leary's precocious side most certainly should.
Ian Harte's second-half goal was sufficient to keep Leeds on top of the Premiership. Yet the solitary goal failed to adequately reflect a Leeds performance of flowing football and constant chances, albeit without the desired standard of finishing.
Even when the visitors finally put their hosts under pressure in the closing 10 minutes Nigel Martyn's superb save from Frank Lampard's 22-yard free-kick served to demonstrate that Leeds' strengths are not limited to their talented young players.
© Guardian Media Group plc
Copy from Football Unlimited of 31/10/1999.
Here was a routine Leeds win and a tantalising glimpse, perhaps, of the future of English football. Precocious, youthful, raw, exuberant and, best of all, homegrown: all are adjectives that have been married to David O'Leary's Premiership leaders this season. On Saturday, for once, they applied more to their opposition.
Step forward Joe Cole of West Ham and, if his performances continue to mature at the same rate as his already immense reputation, England.
Cole is football's equivalent of the cult movie The Blair Witch Project - a performer preceded by an abundance of hype, a player tipped for England honours by Glenn Hoddle before he had established himself in the reserves and by Kevin Keegan before he had started a senior game, a product of rumour and apocryphal anecdote.
© Guardian Media Group plc