FA BARCLAYCARD PREMIERSHIP
SATURDAY 12TH APRIL, 2003
LEEDS UNITED 2 (1) TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR 2 (2)
Viduka, 31, 76 (pen)
Referee:- Rob Styles
Leeds (4-4-2):- Robinson; Mills (sub Milner, 63), Duberry, Radebe, Harte; Kelly, Bakke, Matteo (Capt), Kewell; Smith, Viduka
Subs not used:- Martyn; Simon Robinson; Barmby, Wilcox
Booked:- Bakke (foul on Taricco)
Spurs (4-4-2):- Keller; Carr, King, Gardner, Taricco; Davies, Bunjevcevic, Poyet (sub Etherington, 87), Anderton; Sheringham (Capt), Keane
Subs not used:- Sullivan; Perry; Toda, Acimovic
Booked:- Keller (foul - conceding penalty), Gardner (dissent)
Not for the first time this season, the result of a Spurs game swung on a tale of two penalties in the second half. One that was given (against Kasey Keller for a reckless foul on Kewell), and a last minute chance for Simon Davies, who looked to have been brought down clearly in the last minute in front of the baying away support by Radebe. Referee Rob Styles was having none of the Davies appeal though, but did not book the Spurs player for diving, which seems perverse as presumably he must have decided he was cheating.
Whilst it is disappointing to report a conceded penalty by Spurs for their third consecutive game, the result is better than most of us expected to be honest, and enough to keep the Elland Road backsides twitching somewhat as they remain within reach of the relegation fight on 38 points.
This was Peter Reid's debut home game as temporary manager, but as is the way of things up here, he was not paraded as such, whereas new chairman John McKenzie did do a lap of the perimeter before the game accompanied by the Mayor. The home crowd were unimpressed, and despite their team's great 6-1 win at Charlton last week, all the efforts to whip them up into a frenzy failed dismally, and hardly a whimper was heard from the home support throughout. They were much derided by the ever-loyal Spurs fans for their lack of enthusiasm lack of money, and ...er... the gift of Robbie Keane, who scored against his old side for the second time this season, once again in spectacular style.
Anthony Gardner replaced Chris Perry, who was unfortunate to be relegated to the bench in my view, but otherwise Glenn started with the same side (including the "Old Codgers") which struggled to beat Birmingham last week. Leeds were unchanged from that 6-1 drubbing, and started as if they had just left off. There was a real zing to their play, as they kept Spurs on the back foot for much of the first half hour.
Viduka looked back to his fittest and best, whilst Harte and Kewell (supported by Bakke) worked the Spurs right flank hard, preventing Carr and Davies from getting forward to good effect. On the other side, Gary Kelly was playing right side midfield in front of Mills, giving plenty for Taricco to think about. Bunjevcevic was struggling to find an outlet, and Poyet and Sheringham struggled to keep up!
Leeds first threatened the Spurs goal after 6 minutes, when the Spurs defence did not shape up quickly enough to a quick throw taken by Viduka, leading to a sharp low cross from Kewell which was cleared for a corner. Shortly after Smith headed a Harte corner just over the bar. On the quarter-hour mark, Harte was in space on the left, and threaded the ball to Viduka who gave King the slip, bringing a good save from Keller as the Australian striker hit the ball with the outside of his foot.
It was one way traffic, and Viduka was at the head of it, as five minutes later, he tricked Ledley with a beautiful turn and shot in one flowing motion, but just shot wide of Keller's right post. Spurs had a good chance to beak out of defence when Sheringham sent Poyet away. Gus had Davies available on the right, and Anderton on the left, but hit an amateur pass way beyond the right winger. It was the sort of pass we love to laugh about from a member of the opposition. Then Smith was getting in on the act, getting round Gardner, before firing straight at Keller.
At last, after 28 minutes, Spurs did have an effective attack. It came from a decent slow build up, leading to a cross from Gus on the left that fell to Robbie's feet. Sadly our hero could not get his shooting boots to work this time, and the ball strayed harmlessly away. Keane nearly made amends shortly after with a run into the box, but he was well stopped by a great tackle from Duberry.
Unsurprisingly, Spurs then fell behind. They failed to clear their lines and pick up a second ball from Bunjevcevic. The ball was returned swiftly into the box by Bakke. Viduka was onto it in a flash, and shot past Keller's right hand into the net for his eighth goal in just five league games.
Spurs did respond well at last, and Davies had a magnificent run into the box, beating two players, before his low cross was desperately cleared. Three minutes later, Spurs were level, as Poyet had won a corner, taken by Anderton in the left corner, headed across the goal, and headed home by Teddy Sheringham, lurking at the back post! Remarkably, considering all that had gone before, Spurs took a lead two minutes after that, as Keane went on a jinking run from right to centre into the box, leaving a trail of white shirts behind him. It looked like he had lost the ball, but then it ran for him, and he had the goal at his mercy, beating Robinson's outstretched right hand with a shot to the corner. Keane and Sheringham have 11 Spurs league goals to their credit. (Robbie scored one other for his old side on the opening day of the season against Man City).
Keane caused more chaos for the Leeds defence before the break, as he was fouled , Anderton took a deep kick, and Sheringham hit a low shot wide at the back post.
The second half was less eventful, as Leeds tried to get back into the game, but Spurs held on well, starting to frustrate the home side. Bakke got booked a for a lunge on Taricco, and young Milner (the Leeds version of Rooney) was thrown on for Mills, allowing Kelly to revert to his natural position. There were to be few chances, and Spurs had the first after 71 minutes. Gardner had won a throw on the left, taken by Taricco, and headed into the box by Gardner himself. Robbie Keane's first shot was blocked and his second went just wide of the goal.
Then came the penalty against Keller. This took place at the far end from my position, and at first I thought he was being penalised for handling outside the area, but he threw himself across Kewell going left to right and the linesman had no hesitation in bringing the attention of Mr Styles to the infringement. Clearly the ref decided that it was not a clear cut goal-scoring chance, as he waved a yellow card at Keller, and also booked Gardner, who seemed to be arguing the decision. Viduka made no mistake from the spot for his ninth goal in five games. This was a second rash challenge by our keeper this season. The last one was at home against Arsenal, when he brought down Henry to allow an equalising goal.
In an exciting finish. Keane hit a short cross which missed Sheringham's head but reached Poyet at the back post. Gus headed wide, and was to be replaced by Matthew Etherington with just three minutes left on the clock. Before than though Smith had won a free kick at the other end, taken by Kelley, and nearly converted with a glancing header by Smith into Keller's arms. Finally, there was the dramatic run by Davies into the Leeds box, where he seemed to be clearly felled just inside the line. No penalty waved Mr Styles, and the points were shared.
Spurs are in the comfort zone, whilst Leeds face a tricky visit to Southampton next week. Their home matches against Fulham and Aston Villa are likely to reap enough to ensure they live to fight another Premiership season, but who will they sell next?
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