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Leeds United 1 Sheffield United 0: match report
Published : 25 Sep 2010 18:39:56
Gary Speed can readily recall the days when Leeds United were dominant in the country, never mind the county. As part of an international quartet that boasted Gordon Strachan, David Batty and Gary McAllister as his midfield colleagues, they were the last team to win the old First Division championship under Howard Wilkinson in 1992. Now Leeds are happy to simply challenge for Yorkshire bragging rights, Bradley Johnson's late strike denying Speed on his managerial return to Elland Road with new Sheffield United charges where a sixth game at the helm left his record to date level - three wins, three defeats. For Leeds it was third time lucky following a succession of derby encounters that commenced with a 5-2 defeat at Barnsley followed by a goalless draw at Doncaster. Yet as derby games go this one nearly smouldered before igniting in explosive manner, two dismissals following the only goal that appeared unlikely with defences so much in command. Even though it required a howler of outrageous proportions that led to the 83rd minute deadlock breaker, George McCartney, in his first game on loan from Sunderland, swinging the ball wide to the right where Stephen Jordan wretchedly kicked fresh air enabling substitute Robert Snodgrass to square leaving Johnson a simple close-in finish. Then Snodgrass, booked earlier for infringing at a free-kick, turned from hero to villain when his foul on Leon Britton brought a second yellow that led to red. As tempers flared injury time saw Sheffield substitute Jamie Ward dismissed following a lunge on Neil Kilkenny leaving the game to conclude in a flurry of numerous scuffles. Both managers described the sendings-off as "soft". Said Speed: "A point would have been fair. Leeds were the better team in the first half, we were in the second but we were punished for a mistake." Simon Grayson, the Leeds manager, added: "It was really tight, a game of few chances that was going to be settled by a slice of luck or a mistake. We got a bit of both although I don't think the referee helped himself overall." The opening half saw little quality, even fewer chances although Max Gradel provided the best when, from his cross on the left, Johnson produced a header that the Sheffield goalkeeper, Steve Simonsen, saved spectacularly. The second half was even more barren of opportunities until Johnson struck and Britton struck the bar for Sheffield in injury time.