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Neat passing, good workrate and closing down, some excellent attacking play against an average Charlton side whose 6th place prior to this game flatters then on this showing - and we STILL almost managed to cock it up.....
Two changes from Spurs, Woody in for Lucas and Jacob Burns for his debut in place of Dacourt who failed a fitness test. We were on top for most of the first half in what was again a soulless and flat atmosphere at SOTG. Sing ya f***ers!!
Vidooks missed a one-on-one against the keeper about 10 minutes in, shooting straight at him after Rufus had let him in but the defender recovered to clear up the rebound for a corner. Bow was sticking in some good corners and from one Bakke (I think) headed just over. Matteo pulled a good save from the keeper too before Charlton had their first shot on goal, Nige making a comfy save.
We then scored, Bow and Bakke linking up nicely down the right before sliding a ball into Viduka whose little lay-back was perfect for Smiffy who drilled it in from about 10 yards giving the keeper no chance. Charlton almost equalised immediately when Johannson made Mills look an arse by nutmegging him on the right after Harte had again gone AWOL, his shot skimmed the far post. Smiffy and then Lisbie (?) had shots well saved but 1-0 at HT.
Came out fired up after ht and Bakkes screamer was well blocked, Charlton were on the back foot and the defence had few problems with Woody looking like he'd never been away. Burns was getting stuck in as well in midfield, hmm a little chap that puts himself about, wonder where he's got that from? We continued to press without making many very clear openings and at the other end Nige made a good save on one of Charlton's few breaks, but hurt himself taking the kick and limped off to be replaced by Robbo. (On AireFM on the way home they reckoned at least a month out).
It was 2-0 within seconds, Smiffy leaving the Charlton right-back for dead before cutting it back from right on the dead-ball line for Vidooks to coolly flick it high into the net with his heel. Soon after it was almost three as the Aussie turned the Charlton defence inside out before hitting a thumping shot just over. Kells (!!!) tried his luck from 20 yards, keeper made a great save but the rebound was just wide from Viduka. Robbo made a great save from a header after Kells had laid out a Charlton attacker with a head-high boot (looked a pen to me) but couldn't do anything about Jensen's shot from the corner of the area for 2-1. Leeds then predictably went into panic mode, even after Rufus had limped off to put Charlton who had used all their subs down to ten men. They had one great chance to equalise but a free header went wide, and in the last seconds Hartey broke up the left, crossed, Smiffy made an almighty cock-up of the header a la Besiktas but Viduka stuck out a long leg to poke it in at the far post. The whistle went 5 seconds after the restart.
Scores on the doors.
Crowd - wakey wakey!!!!!
A difficult game to sum up this one. Leeds were on a hiding to nothing. We got the points and certainly deserved them but something was missing.
But what was it ?
As is the norm now at Premier League grounds the home side's fans dont sing until they are winning. The away team's fans sing for most of the game but nobody gives a f@ck anymore.
"Your supposed to be at home" and "you only sing when you're winning" are no longer a piss-take cos it happens every week, everywhere.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 16/10/2000.
It is a good job that Paul Robinson has broad shoulders because for the next four weeks Leeds United's hopes of a successful season will rest squarely upon them.
The reserve goalkeeper was called off the bench in the 71st minute when Nigel Martyn injured his groin and now England's No2 will be watching from the sidelines as his replacement forms the last line of defence in a series of games that could make the labours of Hercules look like a beach party in Corfu.
During that time Leeds play, among others, Manchester United, Barcelona, Liverpool, Milan and Chelsea - some key to the first-team door for a back-up keeper with just five first-team appearances behind him before Saturday and who turned 21 only yesterday. But he was not about to let it faze him.
Copy from The Independent of 15/10/2000.
Perhaps it's not so bad after all. Out of the dark, all-consuming confusion of international week came Alan Smith. Leeds United's young purveyor of all things wild and wonderful was at the hub of an energetic, enterprising Leeds display. United won comfortably albeit at the cost of another injury, this time to their would-be England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn and enabled the assembled mass to glimpse England's future in a refreshingly cheery light.
Fast and feisty, Smith scored one goal, helped to create two more, but tackled with the kind of uncompromising crash-bang-wallop that causes grown men to wince. Sent off for England Under-21s in midweek, only his off-the-leash temperament can stand between him and a sparkling career.
Those mounting the case against him will eagerly offer footage of a nasty-looking second-half challenge on Richard Rufus for which we he was fortunate to escape punishment. At that stage, Charlton had used all three substitutes and, as Rufus hobbled off, were forced bravely to pursue their vain fightback with 10 men. The visiting manager, Alan Curbishley, bit his lip and confessed himself "disappointed with the refereeing"; Smith's own boss, David O'Leary similarly diplomatic opined that the tackle hadn't been so bad.
As debatable as that might be, O'Leary's assertions that Smith's "ability is excellent" is indisputable. The teenager was invited to share in another heart-to-heart with his manager in the aftermath of Tuesday's Finnish folly. He is still a fortnight shy of his 20th birthday and if, as O'Leary believes, he has the common sense to learn from his mistakes, then England have a prize procession.
O'Leary will not, incidentally, be his international boss for the foreseeable future "That I was linked at all [with the England job] only goes to underline the rubbish and speculation that has been bandied about since Kevin Keegan quit," said his programme notes but England may still be grateful to the kindly Irishman for polishing their gem.
The whole day was tinged with all sorts of international aftertastes. The current incumbent of England's managerial office, Howard Wilkinson, was pinned up on page three of the programme. Page 11 was devoted to the chairman Peter Ridsdale, one of the sage seven charged with making a longer-term appointment. He regretted Keegan's resignation: "The timing left a lot to be desired... had Kevin allowed a little more time, he might have been persuaded at least to stay beyond the Finland match."
Out of England's last match and into the Charlton side came Finnish striker Jonatan Johansson a fun selection for the much-touted Curbishley, whose inclusion on a few short- lists is surely a well-deserved reflection of his possible longer-term rather than immediate prospects. Not until the closing minutes of the first half did Johansson or his partner Kevin Lisbie play a significant part. Rather, Charlton's defence was over-employed in the face of a Leeds onslaught.
Mark Viduka might easily have taken the match ball before eventually playing his part in United's long-overdue opener seven minutes from the break. He had been thwarted on a one-on-one contest with goalkeeper Dean Kiely and sent two close-range headers off target, but recovered to cushion the pass on to which Smith deftfully pounced to fire his eighth goal of the season.
Leeds endured their most vulnerable patch after the interval. Martyn was required to save nimbly from Graham Stuart and Mark Kinsella before pulling a muscle in making a regulation clearance and being replaced by Paul Robinson.
At once, Leeds doubled their advantage. Smith scurried to the byline and delivered a cross turned in by an airborne Viduka. But, creditably, Charlton allowed them no degree of comfort and Robinson had already produced one agile save before Claus Jensen hit a long-range goal.
The injury to Rufus handicapped Charlton and the issue was settled when Smith flicked on Ian Harte's cross and Viduka scored with the last meaningful touch.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 15/10/2000.
Alan Smith scored his eighth goal of the season to set Leeds on their way to a win that lifted them into fourth place in the Premiership table. But he was fortunate to still be on the pitch to make the other two Leeds goals, just four days after he was sent off following a goalscoring display for the England under-21s, in Finland.
Smith stood out in an otherwise uninspiring game. His awareness of both the goal and his team-mates is outstanding for a player just out of his teens, but he looked guilty of a wreckless two-footed challenge on Charltons Richard Rufus midway through the second half.
Wirrall referee Mike Dean gave a throw-in, but both players appeared lucky to still be on the pitch, although Rufus later limped off when Charlton had already used all three substitutes.
Copy from SportLive of 15/10/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Paul Robinson's 21st birthday celebrations have been put on hold for six weeks while he attempts to prove he is ready to come of age.
When England goalkeeper Nigel Martyn limped off after 71 minutes against Charlton on Saturday it thrust his deputy, who turned 21 on Sunday, into the limelight just as Leeds' season reaches a critical stage.
Martyn goes in for a scan on the abductor muscles in his right leg this morning, but the suspicion is that a protracted period of rest will be the only cure.
Losing a player of his ability would be inconvenient at any time, but with games coming up against Besiktas, Barcelona and AC Milan in the Champions League and Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea and Arsenal in the Premiership, Robinson can expect to find himself sorely tested - especially as Leeds have had eight centre-back pairings in just 13 games.
It is a good job, then, that David O'Leary's strikers seem to have hit a rich seam of form with 13 goals in the last three games.
On Saturday Alan Smith struck after 38 minutes and Mark Viduka doubled the lead with an impressive back-heel after the interval.
But within 13 minutes of entering the fray, Robinson had to pick the ball out of the net after a powerful drive from Claus Jensen set up a nervous finale before Viduka rounded off the scoring in injury time.
Robinson said: "I didn't have time to think about it - I just had to take my tracksuit off and get straight out there. The goal was a good strike and I couldn't do anything about it.
"I have just got to step in and do the job. I would rather be playing in hard games like the ones we've got coming up than say against the likes of Mansfield in the cup.
"If you are going to play in top-class football you have to play in this type of game. Every game is hard these days."
It is 16 months since Robinson last tasted first-team action - a stint that started when Martyn hobbled off at Old Trafford with a back problem.
But Martyn is fully aware how badly-timed this latest injury is. "With the games we've got coming up it is not ideal," he said.
"I am bitterly disappointed. The games we have got are all massive."
And on a personal level, it means the Cornishman will miss the opportunity to impress whatever England manager is in charge for the friendly against Italy next month.
Martyn added: "It is disappointing because I had high hopes of maybe starting in that one - depending on who is in charge.
"It is an important time to be in and playing well and on Saturday I thought I was doing very well, feeling sharp and had made a few good saves."
After his departure, Charlton should have clawed back their two-goal deficit, but referee Mike Dean somehow failed to spot Gary Kelly's kung-fu kick between Charlie MacDonald's shoulder blades in the penalty area when Charlton were trailing 2-1.
Charlton's Richard Rufus, who was receiving treatment after a vicious tackle from Alan Smith at the time, said: "Although I didn't see the challenge, I heard it was x-rated and somebody said that the referee saw it but did nothing wrong.
"That sums up the whole game for us because there were a few challenges that went unnoticed."
His manager Alan Curbishley was just as frustrated. "I was disappointed with the referee's performance and I told him so," he said. "If he can miss a challenge like that, he can miss most things.
"We had chances to make it 2-2. If we had done that then I think we would have got a point. But 3-1 was harsh."
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 16/10/2000.
THE floodgates have opened to a torrent of 13 goals in three games, and with Alan Smith and Mark Viduka running amok all that Leeds United's opponents are left with in this prolific period are messy mopping-up operations.
Two Premiership newcomers have already put the skids under United this season and here, against the third, United faced another awkward challenge.
Holding sway for much of an absorbing contest, United very nearly capitulated in a frantic final quarter of an hour before Viduka brought some respect to the scoreline by finding the target with the last kick of the match.
Manager David O'Leary was relieved, saying: "You are always very vulnerable coming back after international matches.
"I have had around 13 players away for a fortnight and didn't get them back until Friday. Ideally you would love to play really well, score plenty of goals and win it comfortably, but that is no way to prepare and the main thing is to get the three points.
"We did that. I thought we had more of the chances and we took them."
United had handed a debut to 22-year-old Australian midfield man Jacob Burns, a £250,000 buy from Paramatta Power in August, after Olivier Dacourt failed a late fitness test on the hamstring injury he picked up in the 4-3 win over Tottenham.
Said O'Leary: "I thought that, for the money, I would take the chance and that the chairman wouldn't sack me if it didn't work out. I saw him and believed in him and apart from my concern that this is the first team - we all know we need a bigger squad - I thought the reserve team needed underpinning.
"There was nobody in the youth set-up who was going to make that step up. I'm not saying that Jacob is a genius, but if you were to go into the first division you would be quoted £2m for a similar player, the way the transfer market is here, and he's a good, honest professional who does a job.
"It was always going to be a difficult game because with Woodgate coming back almost straight off the treatment table he was very rusty and lacked match fitness.
"We had yet another different central defensive pairing and it looked that way because Charlton had a few chances."
Charlton were missing four-goal Andy Hunt with a viral infection and their main threat was always going to come from Finnish striker Jonatan Johansson, who figured in the goalless draw with England in Helsinki.
When his golden chance came just before the break Nigel Martyn proved his international class with a magnificent turn round the post.
It was the first of two significant goalkeeping contributions, for after Martyn had retired with a groin injury Paul Robinson, his replacement, turned spectacularly in mid-air to keep out a goalbound header from substitute Charlie MacDonald.
In a tentative opening seven minutes had elapsed before the first effort on goal, a 25-yard shot from Bakke which lacked both power and accuracy. But two minutes later United should have taken the lead.
Smith produced a glorious flick which bisected the defence to send through Viduka, but Kiely blocked his shot with his legs.
Then Harte's quick free-kick to Bowyer caught Charlton flat-footed, and when the cross came over Viduka rose well but his header was too high.
Bakke battled well against Robinson to open up a shooting chance, but his effort flew wide of the near post as Leeds began to dominate against a side which had not fired a shot in anger in the opening 20 minutes.
Smith produced some more fine work in the area to carve an opening for Matteo, but his vicious goalbound shot was blocked.
When, finally, Charlton came forward in numbers Jensen badly overhit his pass to the dangerously-positioned Johansson.
Viduka won a corner on the half hour and was first to Bowyer's flag kick but, again, his header was wide of the target.
Bakke and Matteo were both close to getting a telling touch to Viduka's inviting cross before Leeds finally broke the deadlock in the 38th minute. Some excellent work on the right by Bowyer, teasing Powell, set it all up, his pass to Bakke getting a flick-on to Viduka who teed it up for Smith to fire home his eighth goal of the season.
Johansson's chance came and went before a fine tackle by Kinsella stopped Bowyer in full flow, and Leeds were well worth their interval lead.
United started the second half full of intent and after Viduka had a shot blocked Matteo was not far away with a glancing header.
Then Bowyer tried his luck with a shot which was wide of the far post and when Smith peeled away from Brown to send over a fine cross Charlton were lucky to escape without punishment.
It was one-way traffic and next Bowyer's deep corner was headed over by the goal-hungry Smith.
When a rare chance came Charlton's way Stuart's near-post shot was pushed for a corner by Martyn, but the keeper was made to do well again when Kinsella unleashed a drive from 25 yards.
Leeds were dealt a blow 19 minutes from the end when Martyn buckled after a long kick upfield, but almost immediately United doubled their lead, Smith taking much of the credit for chasing what looked like a lost cause and delivering from the byline for Viduka to back-heel home.
Robinson, 21 yesterday and making his first senior appearance for 16 months, excelled against MacDonald but had little chance six minutes from time when Claus Jensen cut inside Bowyer and rifled a shot into the far corner from the angle of the area.
Salako's cross brought a fine header from MacDonald which squirmed round the post as Charlton hunted up the equaliser, but United made sure of the points with the last kick of the game, when Harte's cross was touched on by Smith for Viduka to convert from close range.
United's next Premiership date is at Old Trafford. What will Manchester United make of Smith and Viduka?