SHEFFIELD UNITED.......2 LEEDS UNITED........0
United boss Kevin Blackwell sprung a few surprises with his team selection,
making two changes to the side that beat Huddersfield Town in midweek, and with it a change of formation as Blackwell went
The most unexpected change came with Michael Duberry replacing Clarke Carlisle at the back, whilst
upfront Brian Deane came back into the team and was asked to lead the line alone.
Michael Ricketts and Julian Joachim were shipped out onto the wings, Ricketts on the left, and Frazer
Richardson moved across into centre midfield alongside Jermaine Wright and Danny Pugh. Steve Guppy was the man
who made way for the changes in midfield.
Blades skipper Chris Morgan had the first attempt on goal after four minutes with a header that was
easily plucked out of the air by Neil Sullivan in the Leeds goal, otherwise the first five minutes made for a dull start to
this derby game.
On nine minutes Sheffield United forced Leeds into conceding the game's first corner as the Whites
frantically cleared their lines under pressure from Ashley Ward and one-time United trainee Andy Gray. From it Michael
Tonge's low drive into the box produced a heart stopping moment until it was blocked by Duberry and hacked away to relative
Leeds were denied a chance to break clear of the Blades back three but a dubious offside decision denied
Deane the chance to shoot on goal. The ball took a kind deflection to find its way through to Deane onside just inside the
area, but Joachim had been coming back from an offside position yet could not have been judged to have been interfering with
play, yet still the linesman's flag went up.
Both keepers had been given little to do in the opening stages, but Sullivan was marginally the busier
of the two and was called into action to collect an Alan Quinn shot on goal on 17 minutes that presented little problem for
the Scottish international.
Leeds first chance came two minutes later when Ricketts went for goal from 22-yards out and flashed
the ball past the left hand post. The striker had though passed up the opportunity to put Frazer Richardson through
with a clear run on goal which incensed the young midfielder.
Michael Duberry was the first man to go into the book when referee Phil Dowd was panicked into making
a ridiculous decision. Harley had been struggling to keep the ball in play on the touchline after losing his footing and Duberry
simply dived in and knocked the ball out of play. There was no contact between the two players but the over-reaction
to the sliding challenge from the home bench and players saw Dowd conned into producing a yellow card.
It raised the temperature in a Yorkshire derby that in the past has needed very little for sparks to
Brian Deane, on his return to another of his former clubs, was making the most of his physical presence
and after a series of altercations with Jagielka and Sheffield skipper Chris Morgan was being booed by the fans that once
adored him. He also looked a strong favourite to be the next player booked.
The home side were creating the best chances as the half dragged on, first Gray broke clear and placed
his shot into the side netting before an Alan Quinn cross was knocked out by Sullivan just before Ashley Ward could come in
and put the Blades a goal up.
Ashley Ward then attempted to capitalise on a mistake by Paul Butler, the journeyman striker turned
and shot but Sullivan was equal to it.
Leeds survived another good chance for Neil Warnock's men when Andy Gray got loose again in the box
and fired a shot across Sullivan's box but the ball missed the target by inches at the most.
The Whites best opportunity
before the end of the first half came when Frazer Richardson threatened to score another spectacular goal. The 21-year-old
broke down the right and weaved his way clear of two challenges from Morgan and Wright before attempting to curl in a shot
from 20-yards, his shot though was just too close to Paddy Kenny in the Sheffield United goal.
No changes at half-time for either side, the first action of any note saw Richardson given the second
yellow card of the game after he brought Alan Quinn's run at goal to a crashing halt.
Leeds resistance crumbled
on 50 minutes as Sheffield United finally broke through and made their chance count.
Richardson lost the ball in midfield and Tongue's pass picked out Ward and the one-time Bradford City
striker placed his shot past Sullivan to give the Blades the lead.
It could have got worse for The Whites when Morgan jumped above Duberry to meet a cross with a fierce
header that Sullivan did well to push over the top of his own bar to prevent the Blades from going 2-0 up.
Michael Ricketts was the third Leeds player booked after he went in with a two footed challenge on
Jagielka after losing the ball to the Blades defender.
Kevin Blackwell made his first change on the hour mark and off came Julian Joachim to be replaced by
Aaron Lennon, now back to full fitness following an Achilles injury he suffered in pre-season.
Things did turn from bad to worse for Leeds when Duberry fouled Gray to concede a free kick some 25-yards
out on 63 minutes. Former Chelsea man Jon Harley simply stepped up and struck a sweet curling free-kick past Sullivan to make
it 2-0. The goal left Leeds visibly stunned.
Jamie McMaster was thrown on to try and add some life to a Leeds attack that had been snuffed out by
the Blades defence, with Ricketts coming off.
With quarter of an hour left to play Leeds hit the woodwork, the closest they had come to a goal. It
was Duberry who poked the ball against the bar from close range as he stuck his boot out to connect with a Crainey free-kick
into the area that had evaded everybody else.
Gary Kelly was the fourth Leeds player booked when he cut down Tonge's run. One more booking and a
fine from the FA would be landing on the Elland Road doormat next week.
Leeds had the crossbar to thank for preventing Sheffield United from going 3-0 up with nine minutes
left to play. A Jon Harley cross was met by an Ashley Ward header onto the underside of the bar where Duberry just managed
to hook it away before Ward could get there again.
Deep into injury time Duberry nearly pulled a goal back for
Leeds when he headed a Jermaine Wright corner goalwards only for Alan Wright to clear off the line.
It was the final chance in a poor afternoon for the Whites. Kevin Blackwell would have expected much
better from his side against his former mentor Neil Warnock.