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The class of Leeds star Jermaine Beckford puts him in a different league
Published : 04 Feb 2010 00:58:06
Simon Grayson went into last night's FA Cup replay openly admitting he had an eye on more pressing matters in League One. He was not the only one. Unlike the Leeds manager, though, it is probably fair to assume Jermaine Beckford was not thinking about Hartlepool, his side's opponents at the Victoria Ground this Saturday. Hot shot: Jermaine Beckford's shot takes a deflection off Michael Dawson and goes just past the post Leeds 1 Tottenham 3: Jermain Defoe hat-trick crushes the hopes of Grayson's upstartsWhat a twit! Mark Bright apologises for going a Bridge too far with John TerryTottenham boss Harry Redknapp already celebrating before FA Cup replay with Leeds as his horse Arry's Orse storms to win Slightly grander venues have been on Beckford's mind for a whilenow, and stepping out at Old Trafford and White Hart Lane in recentweeks has only brought them even more sharply into focus. He wants to test himself in the Barclays Premier League and will surely have his wish granted when his Leeds contract expires in the summer and he bids farewell to Elland Road. Aston Villa have evidently expressed an interest, but Everton still appear favourites to snap him up for nothing after a clear signal that David Moyes believes he has spotted another lower-league gem who just needs the right setting. The Everton manager has already done it with Tim Cahill, Phil Jagielka and Joleon Lescott, but can Beckford follow suit and cut it at the highest level? It is a poser that has prompted plenty of debate, with former Liverpool central defender Mark Lawrenson adding his verdict before last night's kick-off by claiming the Leeds striker might flourish in the Championship but no higher. Up for it: Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford battles with Sebasttien Bassong We can only guess at Beckford's response, as he chooses not to share his thoughts, but he could hardly have done more on the pitch to rebuff Lawrenson's put-down. A suggestion that a poor first touch almost cost him his winning goal in the third round against Manchester United brought a sharp rebuke from former Leeds great Eddie Gray, who said: 'Aye, but you name me a player with the pace to retrieve it like he did. It was electrifying.' Beckford's thought process functions with impressive speed, too, as demonstrated by his opening goal at White Hart Lane, when he bundled home a half-chance inside a crowded six-yard area. It was a poacher's finish to go with some of the more spectacular efforts that have illuminated a season of overdue renaissance from the fallen giants of West Yorkshire. It is why, despite an undisguised wish to leave, his name was still cheered to the rafters when it was read out shortly before the start. He did his best to justify his star billing, but openings were few and far between as Tottenham did their utmost to prevent Tuesday night's Cup shocks spilling into Wednesday. To his credit, he has an inbuilt belief bordering on arrogance to try to make things happen when his side are floundering. Half-an-hour of seeing his team-mates huff and puff to no great effect was enough to bring it to the surface as he seized possession 30 yards out and floated an audacious chip a few feet over the bar. Jermain Defoe fired Tottenham in front - the first goal of a hat-trick - but Beckford's brilliance soon hauled Leeds level with an instinctive volley on the turn that Heurelho Gomes could only palm into the path of Luciano Becchio. It is why the 26-year-old Londoner will be sorely missed in these parts. Leeds' loss may yet prove the Premier League's gain.