LEEDS UNITED.........1 PRESTON NORTH END.........0
Danny Pugh had never scored a senior goal in his career before he came to Elland Road - now
he's got six after scoring the precious goal against Preston that gave Leeds a much needed return to winning ways.
United had let Preston come at them for much of the game but thankfully showed their ruthless
streak was still there with Pugh's goal - a goal that took every ounce of determination and persistence to get.
points before a nightmare few games at Reading, Brighton and Portsmouth are just what the doctor ordered ahead of a spell
that is certain to be testing to say the least.
United boss Kevin Blackwell was been forced into making three changes to his side after suffering
a rash of injuries.
Jermaine Wright and Stephen Crainey both failed to recover from injuries over the midweek break
and their places were taken by Simon Walton and Matthew Kilgallon.
Upfront the boss opted for a change by giving a rejuvenated Michael Ricketts his chance in
favour of Brian Deane.
For Preston, the will-he-won't he debate over whether David Healy would start the game was
brought to a conclusion when Billy Davies did indeed name the Northern Ireland international in his line-up.
Transfer negotiations for the 25-year-old are set to resume next week.
United suffered an early scare five minutes into the game when a Paul Butler
header back to keeper Neil Sullivan landed short and former Sheffield Wednesday striker Richard Cresswell was nearly
onto the ball but Sullivan just beat him to it in time.
Healy, well aware that he was playing against the club who, if all goes to plan for Kevin Blackwell,
will be his employers soon, had his first shot at goal after ten minutes but sent the ball just wide.
Two minutes later though there was a bigger threat when Graham Alexander came forward down
the right hand side and saw his shot from a narrow angle turned behind for a corner by Sullivan.
The corner came to nothing but Leeds were definitely living dangerously and not seeing as much
of the ball as the visitors.
Quarter of an hour passed before Leeds had their first shot on target and it came from
top scorer Danny Pugh. Simon Walton won the ball in a central position and knocked it on for Pugh to shoot from 25-yards,
the keeper was well behind the shot though.
United were starting to get into the game more and missed a good opportunity to take the lead
when a break saw the white shirts outnumber Preston's yellow by four to three, but Pugh's cross was headed well over the target
Preston suffered an early set-back just twenty minutes into the game when Marlon Broomes went
down in the area and had to be replaced by the USA international Eddie Lewis.
Lewis took just five minutes to get his first chance on goal, racing into the area down the
left hand side until across came Frazer Richardson with a superbly timed tackle to thwart the danger.
another change just before half time when they brought off Calum Davidson, who had been caught in a heavy challenge, and put
on Andy Smith.
Sean Gregan was booked just before half-time after a tackle on Lewis that incensed Preston
manager Billy Davies. He and Gregan had what can best be described as a verbal spat, during which Davies was seen to
make an obscene gesture at the United man. Gregan was cautioned for his part in the confrontation and Davies given a
stern ticking off by the referee Graham Laws.
When Paul McKenna made a rash challenge on Ormerod the referee had no choice but to brandish
the second yellow card of the game in the Preston midfielder's direction.
At half-time this game could hardly be described as one to write home about.
Leeds were slow to start in the second half and nearly paid for it as Preston shot narrowly
wide and skimmed the woodwork with another shot.
It took United ten minutes to test Preston's defence, Gregan fed the ball out to Pugh on the
left hand side of the area and the midfielder forced a good save out of Preston keeper Andy Lonergan.
Preston should have taken the lead on 58 minutes when David Healy was found in space inside
the area, but the United target let Leeds off the hook.
Healy decided to wait until he could strike the ball with his favoured left foot and that moment
of hesitation allowed Kilgallon to get in there and block the shot which Sullivan then smothered.
Kevin Blackwell made a double change just before the hour mark when he brought Aaron Lennon
and Brian Deane on for Frazer Richardson and Michael Ricketts.
Events on the touchline took centre stage again as the referee's attention was attracted by
the fourth official. After much consultation is was Billy Davies' assistant, former Tranmere striker David Kelly, who was
sent to the stands. There was more entertainment coming from the dug-outs than the pitch!
Paul Butler was the second Leeds man to go into the referee's note book when his mis-timed
tackle sent Richard Cresswell tumbling.
Another chance for Leeds came on 74 minutes when sub Aaron Lennon chipped the ball into the
area where Deane sent a header down for Ormerod to come in on but great anticipation and anticipation from Preston keeper
Lonergan saw him make a brave interception before Ormerod could welly it into the goal.
Just as the statisticians
were looking to put down a third consecutive 0-0 draw for Leeds, Danny Pugh popped up with yet another goal.
It was thanks to good work from Brett Ormerod coming in with the ball from the left that eventually
saw the ball fall loose for Pugh, and the former Manchester United trainee stroked the ball into the net. Pugh
is the club's top scorer by a country mile with six goals - that's one every two games!
The fact that he didn't treat the crowd to his usual exuberant goal celebrations, the backwards
summersault, mattered little for the goal drought had been broken after 426 long suffering minutes.
Ormerod had taken
a clattering in his bravery to get to the ball that led to the goal, and despite at one stage having had the stretcher
called for him, he managed to pick himself up and re-enter the fray. He played on for another few more minutes
before Blackwell brought on Matthew Spring in his place.
Preston sub Eddie Lewis was lucky to escape with just a yellow card when he appeared to catch
Matthew Spring with an elbow.
A free kick to the visitors right at the end of the game threatened to rob Leeds of two points,
but Sullivan was alert and pulled off a comfortable save from under his crossbar to deny Lewis from 20-yards.
The manner in which Leeds themselves picked up the three points was not pretty, but the end
justifies the means and a return to winning ways was certainly welcomed by the majority of the 30,000 crowd inside Elland
Preston North End