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LEEDS UNITED FOOTBALL CLUB

Match v Watford
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                                  LEEDS UNITED.............2 WATFORD...............2
                                               Leeds United badge                  Watford badge
 

Pre-Match

As expected, Kevin Blackwell named another unchanged side for the visit of Watford, his forth in a row.  

Matthew Spring makes a long awaited return to the bench after recovering from a hip injury, but there is no place for Shaun Derry whose loan deal was blocked by Crystal Palace today.

The Match

Leeds conceded after just 90 seconds in their 6-1 win over QPR the game before and history nearly repeated itself when a sloppy backpass into the area from Danny Pugh was intercepted by Gavin Mahon and he fed Bruce Dyer for the shot, but the former Barnsley striker shot straight into Neil Sullivan's hands.

United's responded with a missed chance of their own, Brian Deane not quite showing the deadly accuracy he did on Saturday by heading Jermaine Wright's cross wide.

The omens for Leeds had not been good though, and just like Saturday, they went a goal down within ten minutes.

Plenty of ball watching inside the United half and a turn of pace from Heidar Helguson saw the Icelandic international cut the ball back inside for Dyer who converted the low cross with ease to put the visitors 1-0 up.

It was now up to United to respond in the same way they had against QPR.

Instead though they were lucky not to find themselves at least another goal down when Watford spurned three more excellent goalscoring chances.

It all began when Sean Gregan brought down Dyer for a free-kick on the edge of the area which Neal Ardley took and won a corner from.

The corner came in past every white shirt in the box to Dyer at the back post and Sullivan tipped the header away but only Simon Walton header over he from under cross bar relieved the immediate danger. Helguson then came close from the corner as his header missed the target by inches.

Leeds were struggling to get hold of the ball at this point and when Dyer held off Carlisle and passed out for James Chambers to break into the area, a second goal seemed almost certain. The former West Bromwich Albion man mis-fired though and sent the shot across the face of the area and wide of the target.

With 20 minutes on the clock Leeds suddenly awoke and the equaliser was complete in all of three touches.

Butler send forward a long ball that was chested down by Deane and in turn smacked by Jermaine Wright's swinging boot - the shot skipped across the turf into the bottom left hand corner of the net.

It prompted the Kop to sing "we're gonna win 6-1" - well there was plenty of time for a repeat performance as so far the same script was being followed.

Brian Deane could have continued his glory week when he went a shot from the edge of the area that had plenty of venom but also too much height.

The first booking of the game came on the half hour mark when Helguson caught Danny Pugh with a late challenge.

Elland Road held its breath when Danny Pugh crossed to Deane at the back post and it appeared to be just too high for the big man as he sent it high and wide from six yards.  Things weren't quite going for Deane on this occasion.

Simon Walton was the first United to be booked, harshly punished for a foul on Neal Ardley that didn't deserved yellow crad.  Walton is now just one more card away from a suspension.

Leeds escaped with four minutes of the half remaining when Smith crossed and Brynjar Gunnarson sliced the shot over from six yards, completely unmarked in the box. 

Leeds had a number of chances to take the lead before the break, Deane once more from Wright's ball into the box and again heading the ball wide, and then on the stroke of normal time Gregan had a long range header from a Wright corner touched over for yet another corner.

Neither side though could forge ahead and gain an advantage before half-time.

Kevin Blackwell made one change at half-time, bringing Julian Joachim on and the surprise being that it was Brian Deane who went off. 

David Healy may have scored a sublime goal on Saturday but he must have left those shooting boots behind when he was presented with a gilt-edged chance on 54 minutes to give United the lead.

Joachim's flick set up the chance for Healy, all alone inside the area, to simply place his shot past Lee in the Hornets goal but after some hesitation from the Northern Ireland striker he sent his shot high into the empty seats behind the Watford goal.

The heat was turned up in the game after the hour and in the space of a minute either side could have scored as it went from end to end.

First Neil Sullivan pulled off a spectacular stop to deny Sean Dyche after the combative midfielder got a glancing header on a cross, then the action was straight down the other end. Joachim was fouled but the referee allowed play to continue as Simon Walton was in possession, and his hanging cross fell for Healy to head ten yards out but the keeper pulled off a great save with his outstretched arm.

With both sides really going for the win, tempers flared and Sean Gregan escaped a suspension when he was let off a booking for a heavy challenge.

Leeds have been guilty of conceding some dreadful goals this season but few have been as sloppy as Watford's second, presented to them on a plate on 70 minutes.

Sean Gregan, reliable and composed of late as Blackwell's key midfield signing, made a complete hash of a pass back to Sullivan, hitting the ball against Butler instead which then ran loose for Bruce Dyer to pick his spot past a helpless Sullivan for his second goal of the game.

After the tremendous 6-1 win, few could believe they were watching the same team.

Leeds to their credit came out fighting after that setback, first a cross from Wright was well flicked on by Joachim but Butler's header was straight into the keeper's arms.

Then John Oster was left to feel the unluckiest man on the pitch as his right footed volley was headed clear by Watford defender Neil Cox off the line.  David Healy also hooked a shot goal-bound but the keeper held on well. 

Just as it looked like being another hard luck story, a second equaliser of the game was the reward for United's sustained pressure.

Joachim did well in the move, getting to the byline with the ball and instead of going for goal he showed intelligence to play it back to Wright, he then picked out Carlisle with his cross at the back post and the big defender made sure to place his downwards header away from the keeper and into the back of the net.

It was enough in the end to rescue a point for United, but Leeds will have left Elland Road kicking themselves for turning down so many good chances to score - but the visitors will have felt just the same.

Leeds United

Starting XI

1Sullivan, Neil

2Kelly, Gary

4Carlisle, Clarke

6Butler, Paul

12Pugh, Danny

7Wright, Jermaine

8Gregan, Sean

18Walton, Simon

9Healy, David

30Deane, Brian

14Oster, John

Substitutes

13Carson, Scott

11Joachim, Julian

17Spring, Matthew

25Lennon, Aaron

26Kilgallon, Matthew

Watford

Starting XI

16Lee, Richard

21Smith, Jack

5Cox, Neil

6Dyche, Sean

14Darlington, Jermaine

19Chambers, James

4Gunnarsson, Brynjar

8Mahon, Gavin

2Ardley, Neal

7Dyer, Bruce

18Helguson, Heidar

Substitutes

1Chamberlain, Alec

12Fitzgerald, Scott

15Gayle, Marcus

27Young, Ashley

29DeMerit, Jay

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