Leeds' extraordinary FA Cup journey continued on track at White Hart Lane last night. In the final minute of stoppage time, Michael Dawson stretched into a tackle on the Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford. Referee Alan Wiley considered his decision for a long moment, then jabbed a finger at the spot. Beckford himself scored with a violent drive, and the tie was saved.
At that stage, Spurs were celebrating Cup progress after an unconvincing performance. Roman Pavlyuchenko, the striker they have been urgently attempting to sell in this transfer window, seemed to have saved his side from acute embarrassment.
Entering the tie as a 70th-minute substitute, he made his mark within five minutes, scoring the goal which seemed to have ended the Leeds adventure.
At the death: Jermain Beckford scores a late, late equaliser
It was a rare example of Spurs transforming promise into achievement.
Another substitute, Wilson Palacios, advanced and after Pavlyuchenko and Jermain Defoe swapped passes, the Russian took the chance which others had been missing. Harry Redknapp, who has been trying to trade him to anybody who will take him off the wage bill, leaped from the bench with an expression which said 'I never doubted you. Not for a moment'.
And White Hart Lane hissed its relief. It was to be short-lived.
In truth, Spurs should have ended the contest inside the first 45 minutes. Chance after chance was painstakingly arranged and wantonly wasted. Even a penalty, dubiously awarded on eight minutes when Michael Doyle contested a bouncing ball with young Danny Rose, was missed by Defoe.
Super sub: Roman Pavlyuchenko thought he had won it for Spurs
The Leeds fans kept up a ceaseless barrage of noise, as if theirfavourites needed any greater incentive after dealing with ManchesterUnited in the last round. Yet, Leeds spent most of the opening halfhour simply seeking survival.
There is still a residue of the old arrogance in that corner ofYorkshire: 'Yer only here to watch the Leeds', they sang , which ispresumably the kind of thing they sing most weeks at Hartlepool or Leyton Orient. But Spurs needed to strip the romance from the occasion.
This was not the Leeds of Bremner, Hunter and the days of blood-on-the-studs. Or even of more recent times, when the likes of Viduka, Ferdinand and Woodgate were startingto work their wonders. Until the money ran out. This is a club which is effectively in the Third Division, and it had to be handled as such.
And so they manufactured the chances, the first in the sixth minute when first a Defoe chip, then a Niko Kranjcar drive almost proved productive.
But the big advantage arrived with the penalty. Referee Wiley saw a relatively soft collision as a spot-kick, but Defoe imposed his own rough justice by striking it half-heartedly, allowing Casper Ankergren to parry with comfort.
Fighting back: Jermain Beckford scores Leeds' first as Jermaine Jenas looks on
The game was conducted almost exclusively in Leeds' half, and theylived with the danger of relentless pressure. In 20 minutes, Kranjcarwhipped in a free-kick which the keeper spilled. Defoe moved in on therebound, but Patrick Kisnorbo applied a stifling block.
Two minutes later, Jason Crowe's desperate tackle deprived Defoe asthe forward ran clear. Although the resulting penalty demand seemedmore valid than the earlier award, it was promptly denied.
Robert Snodgrass forced Heurelho Gomes to a stretching save, whileBeckford started to make his first, unrewarded incursions. The balance was tilting, yet still Spurs were forcing the pace, producing the chances. And still they were missing them.The goal they sought arrived on 42 minutes, a thing of rare simplicity. Gareth Bale cut the ball back from the left for Kranjcar to shoot. Ankergren saved with his feet, and Peter Crouch devoured the chance.
Costly: Jermain Defoe misses and early penalty
Had Defoe taken another opportunity on the brink of half-time, Spurs might have come through in some comfort. But he missed again, and on 52 minutes Leeds achieved remarkable equality. Snodgrass took a corner which dropped into a crowd of Spurs defenders. Jermaine Jenas miscontrolled, then hesitated and Beckford bustled through the confusion to take the scoring touch.
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Explore more:People:Wilson Palacios, Harry Redknapp, Jermaine Jenas, Roman Pavlyuchenko, Patrick Kisnorbo, Peter Crouch, Jermain Defoe, Gareth Bale, Michael Dawson, Danny RosePlaces:Leeds