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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Preston North End (2nd)
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                   PRESTON NORTH END........2 LEEDS UNITED..........4
                                  Preston North End badge                                Leeds United badge
 

Leeds had this game sown up by half-time after a blistering first half in which Brian Deane opened the scoring and then two goals by David Healy against his former club helped settle the nerves.  

Pre-Match
United boss Kevin Blackwell went for a change of formation against Preston, with John Oster making his debut for the Whites.   The loan signing from Sunderland was thrown straight in after proving his fitness in a training session on Friday.

Blackwell went for a 4-3-3 formation with a forward line of Oster on the right hand side of the three man attack that also included former Preston striker David Healy on the left and Brian Deane in the centre.

The midfield three were Wright, Gregan and Walton, whilst the back four featured the one change with Danny Pugh dropping to left-back and Matthew Kilgallon having been dropped to the bench.

The Match

Leeds took an early lead at Deepdale after Brian Deane sneaked in at the back post to score a simple but very effective goal to set United on their way to victory.

The 4,000 Whites fans could hardly believe it when another striker - and this one was scripted - David Healy scored his first Leeds goal on the return to his former club just three minutes after Deane's opener.

The goals came at the end of a ten minute spell of pressure from United that saw them weather a strong few opening minutes from the home side and then take the game to Preston.

Leeds were piling on the pressure with Deane having first forced the error out of gangly centre-half Claude Davis to win the ball inside the penalty area and play it back for Healy, but this time he wasn't to punish his old team-mates, that was to follow.

Then came United's charge on 12 minutes.  Jermaine Wright delivered a corner from the left hand side and nobody tracked Deane's run to the back post where he was left with the simple header in. 

It was the striker's first league goal since his return to Elland Road and the relief was evident on his face.

The supporters had barely stopped celebrating the goal when three minutes later Leeds doubled their advantage.

A free-kick was delivered into the heart of the penalty area and with four United players in there to cause problems, Preston could not get the ball clear and eventually it came back to Healy about 12 yards out who blasted home a low drive. 

The curse of the ex player returning had been put upon Preston with Healy coming back to haunt them.

Leeds were not finished there though, they set their stall out in the first half to show Preston they meant business and the pressure continued on the home goal.

Healy fired just over the crossbar barely a minute after scoring and then Deane missed a glorious chance to make it 3-0.

The chance came from great work by Gary Kelly to win the ball off John Curtis, the full-back delivered it into the box where Wright flicked it on to Deane in a similar position to where he scored from, but this time he missed the target.

It wouldn't be Leeds playing without the occasional lapse of concentration though and that came into play just after the half hour.

Butler was shielding the ball for Sullivan to clear downfield, but the United keeper only managed to hit the ball against Preston striker Andy Smith and the Leeds fans in the stand behind his goal held their breath as the ball came back towards the goal but missed by an inch.

The Lilywhites thought they had a way back into the game when skipper Chris Lucketti looked for a penalty after Clarke Carlisle's challenge in the area but play was allowed to continue and Preston could not convert the loose ball.

Leeds virtually secured all three points with two minutes of the half remaining when David Healy scored his second Leeds United goal. 

It was a magnificent ball forward from Jermaine Wright that caught the Preston defence flat-footed and Healy was onto the chance like a shot.  He bore down on goal but waited for the keeper to commit himself before firing in from the left hand side of the area.

It meant that Kevin Blackwell's half-time team talk was for once short and simple - same again please lads!

Preston boss Billy Davies rang the changes at half time, bringing on Omar Daley and Brian O'Neil for Youl Mawene and Andy Smith.

Leeds had expected Preston to come out after the break with all guns blazing and they managed to hold firm for just eight minutes before the home side grabbed a goal back.

Richard Cresswell, the former York City city striker and self-confessed Leeds fan, it was who scored it as his charge took him clear of the defence after getting a lucky bounce and he comfortably beat Sullivan.

The Lilywhites continued to force Leeds back and some frantic defending followed from Leeds but they held firm.

Cresswell could have made it 3-2 after escaping past Kelly and doing all the hard work, but then scuffed his shot straight at Sullivan.

Kelly was having another good game for United and it was a case of safety first when he was forced to head away an inswinging cross towards the back post under pressure from American winger Eddie Lewis.

Preston had another penalty shout on the hour mark when Claude Davis went down inside the penalty area with Brian Deane chasing him. The referee was certain though that no contact had been made and booked the Preston man for diving.

If fears that Preston could yet come back into the game were growing amongst the Leeds bench, they were extinguished on 71 minutes when United scored their fourth goal of the afternoon.

Hitting them on the break, it was loan man John Oster whose high hanging cross caused all the problems, eventualy being met by Deane at the back post and he simply headed it into the empty space where Preston keeper Gavin Ward had been stood and Simon Walton tapped in.

Leeds made their first change after that, taking John Oster off after a decent debut and bringing  Frazer Richardson on.

Preston could have reduced the defecit to just one goal had Brian Deane not blocked Omar Daley's fierce shot with a brave header.  In the meantime, David Healy was booked for dissent and Neil Sullivan had minutes earlier picked up a card for time wasting.

Brian Deane could have made it 5-2 in the final seconds of extra time when Frazer Richardson's cross picked him out unmarked in the six yard box but the keeper held onto the shot from a narrow angle.

It mattered little though and Leeds were well worth the win in the end, the first time they've scored as many goals away from home since the 6-1 mauling of  Charlton nearly two years ago.

Preston North End

Starting XI

12Ward, Gavin

15Mawene, Youl

20Lucketti, Chris

22Davis, Claude

18Curtis, John

2Alexander, Graham

4Etuhu, Dickson

16McKenna, Paul

17Lewis, Eddie

25Cresswell, Richard

10Smith, Andy

Substitutes

23Gould, Jonathan

3O`Neil, Brian

7Daley, Omar

14Lynch, Simon

6Broomes, Marlon

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

2Kelly, Gary

6Butler, Paul

4Carlisle, Clarke

12Pugh, Danny

18Walton, Simon

8Gregan, Sean

7Wright, Jermaine

14Oster, John

30Deane, Brian

9Healy, David

Substitutes

13Carson, Scott

11Joachim, Julian

15Richardson, Frazer

25Lennon, Aaron

26Kilgallon, Matthew

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