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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Wigan
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                        LEEDS UNITED...............0 WIGAN ATHLETIC.........2
                                 Leeds United badge                           Wigan Athletic badge
 

Pre-match

United boss  Kevin Blackwell was able to hand new signing David Healy his debut after the striker shook off a bout of conjunctivitis to declare himself fit.  He was paired upfront with Brian Deane, who got his first goal since his return to the club against Portsmouth in midweek.

Missing from that Portsmouth game though was Matthew Spring whose hip injury has flared up again.  It left United with little choice but to revert Simon Walton back to midfield after he sat in at centre-half for skipper Paul Butler who was suspended and was for this game serving the final game of his two match ban.  Matthew Kilgallon, returning from his own ban after his dismissal at Brighton, filled in at centre-half, his preferred position.

The Match

Leeds got into their stride early on against Wigan, perhaps determined to show the division's top dogs that they would not be about to concede any ground on their home turf and to show them who was boss.

Good passing football to start with but it was following a long ball out of defence on four minutes that United's first real attack came from. Simon Johnson went for goal from 20 yards but sent his shot straight down the throat of Wigan keeper John Filan who comfortably held onto the ball.

It was five minutes before David Healy really got involved, and he showed that scoring goals was not his only attribute when he drew warm applause with an exquisite one touch pass to Johnson.  It was the kind of touch that Blackwell's men, hardworking and as honest as they are, have rarely demonstrated this season.

Wigan are not top for nothing, and they have potential match winners in every position, so the danger signs were there when David Graham was given too much space and time to run at the United defence and fortunately the shot was wide in the end.

It was 19 minutes before Healy was to take his first shot at goal, the interception from Sean Gregan in midfield saw him run unhindered for 30-yards before laying off a pass to Healy who was making the run wide on the right. The Ulsterman's well hit shot from just inside the area kept on rising though and cleared the crossbar by about two feet.

A few minutes later he had another chance with when he won a free-kick 25-yards out, but his low drive was comfortably dealt with by Filan.

The game turned nasty for a moment after 26 minutes when Lee McCulloch leapt straight into Gregan with a challenge that was not only late but dangerous and it left the midfielder in agony on the deck.   Clarke Carlisle was incensed at the challenge and his reaction earned him a yellow card along with the villain of the piece, McCulloch.

Leeds fans were fearing the worst a few minutes later when Carlisle ended Jason Roberts run with a shoulder charge that saw him concede the free-kick and fortunately the referee showed common sense and gave him just a stern ticking off and not another yellow card.

Matthew Kilgallon was back at centre-half for this game, a position he's been longing to get a chance to impress Blackwell in, and he, aided by  Carlisle, was certainly making the most of it by keeping the powerful Jason Roberts quiet in the first half.  'Killer' was winning tackle after tackle against the big striker, a few of them in the penalty area where a well timed challenge was absolutely necessary.

The final five minutes of the game were packing with incident after incident, none of them resulting in a goal though.

First Gary Kelly conceded a free kick on the edge of the area with a foul on Leighton Baines and the cross was headed back across the face of goal by Matt Jackson where Sullivan was able to quickly gather.

Then Simon Walton and Simon Johnson combined inside the Wigan area to give Johnson a shot on goal he sent over.

Down the other end Wigan pressed hard for an advantage in extra time added on at the end of the half. The lively Jimmy Bullard took a shot from 20-yards and nearly caught everyone out, Sullivan might have got to it but fortunately the shot fizzed past the left hand upright.

Clarke Carlisle's foul on Jason Roberts then gave Wigan a free-kick just outside the box that Bullard cracked wide. 

There was still time for another booking in the half when Simon Johnson went in hard and late with a challenge on David Wright.

The game was just 43 seconds into the second half when Wigan went someway to protecting their unbeaten start to the season with a quick-fire goal from Alan Mahon.

Leeds lost possession in midfield and Roberts fed the perfect ball through to Mahon who simply took aim and struck gold with a fierce right foot drive.

Wigan could have been two goals up in as many second half minutes with Ellington looking to get on the end of a ball but Carlisle came across to clear the danger.

Simon Johnson took on the task of getting United back into the game and his shot from 25-yards threatened to sneak inside the post, but the bounce took it wide.

Brian Deane then played the ball inside to Healy on the break and the shot was strong but drew an equally good save from Filan and the rebound just wouldn't drop to a white shirt.

United's problems doubled though on 52 minutes when the visitors stretched their lead to 2-0.  The quick break was on and Bullard threatened to pass to Ellington making the run into the area but instead went straight for goal and beat Sullivan at the near post with a low drive.

Kevin Blackwell made his first change on 57 minutes, bringing Frazer Richardson off and putting Jermaine Wright, just back from an Achilles injury, on.

Leeds were still picking up bookings in this game at an alarming rate, one on 65 minutes going to Sean Gregan after he brought down McCulloch.

Blackwell's second substitution on 70 minutes saw Julian Joachim come on to try and add more impetus to attack, with Walton going off.

Nearly as soon as he came on though Leeds could have been chasing the game 3-0 down with Roberts just missing the target with a shot across the face of goal. A minute later he blasted a shot into the side netting from an even better position.

Leeds were struggling to get close to Wigan when the visitors had the ball and when United had it, they couldn't keep their passing going. 

There were chances though to reduce the defecit, first Julian Joachim had a shot cleared off the line by Wright and then Healy played the ball across for Deane to strike but his shot was straight into the body of the Wigan keeper.

With six minutes left to go Simon Johnson was replaced to allow Blackwell to give Aaron Lennon six minutes to use his trickery to change things.  Johnson left the field to a good round of applause and the striker had deserved it after working hard and creating some of United's best moments in an unfamiliar winger's role.

As time ran began to run out on Leeds, Brian Deane came closest of all in a white shirt to scoring when he forced Filan to turn away a well directed header after meeting a cross from the right by Kelly.

Even if the ball had gone in it would have been too late to save Leeds from their second home defeat of the season.  Wigan deserved the points as Leeds were left to reflect on a second half collapse.

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

2Kelly, Gary

4Carlisle, Clarke

26Kilgallon, Matthew

12Pugh, Danny

15Richardson, Frazer

8Gregan, Sean

18Walton, Simon

39Johnson, Simon

9Healy, David

30Deane, Brian

Substitutes

13Carson, Scott

7Wright, Jermaine

10Ricketts, Michael

11Joachim, Julian

25Lennon, Aaron

Wigan Athletic

Starting XI

1Filan, John

15Wright, David

4Jackson, Matt

6Breckin, Ian

26Baines, Leighton

7Graham, David

14Mahon, Alan

21Bullard, Jimmy

10McCulloch, Lee

9Ellington, Nathan

30Roberts, Jason

Substitutes

13Walsh, Gary

3McMillan, Steve

12Flynn, Michael

24Whalley, Gareth

2Mitchell, Paul

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