FA Carling Premiership
Wimbledon 2 - 0 Leeds United
(Half-time: 1 - 0)
|« Lokomotiv Moscow||Bradford City »|
|Leeds United||Martyn, Kelly, Woodgate (Duberry HT), Radebe, Harte, Bowyer (Bakke 62), Batty, McPhail, Huckerby, Smith (Hopkin 78), Kewell||Robinson, Mills|
|Wimbledon||Sullivan, Cunningham, Hreidarsson, Thatcher, Kimble, Cort (Andresen 90), Earle, Andersen, Euell, Gayle (Badir 81), Hartson (Leaburn 89)||Blackwell, Davis|
|Wimbledon||Hartson 31, Gayle 65|
|Yellow Cards||Red Cards|
|Shirt numbers of goalscorers||0||?|
|Jabba||It could have been worse...|
|The Guardian||Jet lag grounds Leeds|
|The Electronic Telegraph||Hartson makes weary Leeds pay|
|The Times||Weary Leeds lose their way|
|Express Sport||Dons down weary Leeds|
|The Independent||Leg-weary Leeds are humbled by Hartson|
|Yorkshire Evening Post||Hartson's power ends United run|
|BBC||Dons destroy Leeds hopes|
|Carlingnet||Wimbledon 2 - 0 Leeds United|
...but not much.
It's a measure of how far we've come over the last year that a defeat - any defeat - is greeted with such surprise and disbelief. It's a timely reminder that - however much DOL's continual refrain of "They're just kids - I'm not expecting anything..." may sound like him trying to keep expectations and thus pressure low - we aren't invulnerable and we still need to work to win games.
And work is one thing that most of the team didn't do today. Wimbledon started the first half well, and after ten minutes, we'd barely had a look-in. Michael Bridges was missing with a back injury, and we must be grateful for the fact that we've got two weeks to recover before the next game. Up front, Alan Smith was isolated, with Huckerby and Kewell both producing some decent runs but not the final ball. At the back, Lucas Radebe looked less fragile than of late, and Jon Woodgate's gashed eye (from an accidental clash of heads) didn't seem to be impairing his effectiveness. Nigel Martyn made a brilliant save from Hartson's header as the defence found themselves a man short. Darren Huckerby made one promising run, but his shot was straight at Neil Sullivan.
In some of the weekend press, I read how one of the great strengths of Leeds was that they played as a unit, covering each other in defence and supporting each other in attack. So I guess it was inevitable that Wimbledon's first goal should start in their penalty area, with Harry Kewell screaming at Lee Bowyer for not passing him the ball when he was free on the left. The fact that Bowyer would probably have had to dislocate most of his joints to get the required flick was beyond Kewell, and instead of chasing back to provide some midfield cover, he slowly sulked back in defence. The Dons got a fast break, and when Ian Harte was drawn to and lost a high ball, there was a massive gap on the left for a Wimbledon overlap. Radebe tried to close it down, but the cross came in and found Jon Woodgate trying to cover two players as Gary Kelly had been slow in getting back. John Hartson has been in good scoring form recently - and made no mistake when the ball landed at his feet six yards out.
Leeds came on stronger after that, and had a couple of decent chances before half-time, but Wimbledon were still ahead at the break, and the second half saw Michael Duberry emerge in place of Jon Woodgate, whose eye had swollen up too much. Maybe with hindsight, it might have been sensible to start with Duberry as part of a back three, since he is made for defending against the sort of tactics Wimbledon employ. Leeds started the second half pretty much as they'd finished the first, but again the pressure yielded few actual chances. 20 minutes into the half, Hartson pressured Radebe into giving away a corner and Kimble's well-taken kick found Marcus Gayle very poorly marked by Harry Kewell ahead of the near post. It also didn't find the Leeds player who should have been covering the near post and the game was as good as over. Later on, Wimbledon managed to clear a goal-bound header from the line and it was clear that the game was up for Leeds.
In many ways, this was the old Leeds, losing a game we would have expected to win - but it was the two oldest Leeds players who had the best game. Nigel Martyn could do nothing about either goal, and must have done enough to convince Keegan to pick him for the Euro 2000 play-offs. And David Batty's absence through suspension could make a considerable difference: quite simply he has been Leeds' best player all season and the maturity, confidence and improved passing that he has added to his continually high work-rate and motivation must put him in line for further recognition internationally in the Euro 2000 Finals.
Wake-up calls have been served on Harry Kewell - who was probably the main villain of the piece today - Alan Smith and Darren Huckerby. Stephen McPhail played well in patches, but the free rein that DOL appears to have given to some of the players looked like it really needed to be pulled in and forced into some form of system against a team like Wimbledon. Next up are Bradford who should be a bit easier - but you never can tell....
Copy from Football Unlimited of 08/11/1999.
Seventy-two hours after beating Lokomotiv, Leeds United ran out of steam yesterday. David O'Leary's young side, who have so impressively threatened the status quo at the top of the Premiership, paid for their success in the most frustrating way.
Having made their triumphant retreat from Moscow just 48 hours previously, the boys from Elland Road simply lacked the energy to cope with a Wimbledon side ominously rediscovering much of their old cussedness after a slow start under the guidance of Egil Olsen.
As a result Leeds suffered their first defeat in 14 games and failed to reclaim the top place in the Premiership table which they have recently made their own.
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