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Despite my pub recommendation looking closed as I drove past it, the pre-match meet was a fairly lively affair, it's always good to put more faces to names (Martyn, Thirkers, Niggy, Verner, Matt etc). Although I was somewhat concerned that Verner could possibly have such a tidy (shrink rapped flat) yet appear to be in a complete state himself. Did I hear him offering copies of the Big Issue around? Thirkers sandwiches and flood damaged crisps helped to soak up the beers somewhat but it was disappointing to see no sign of the fabled Hula Hoops.
The team injury crises appears to be spreading through the fans now, I've got a crocked knee, Guy was on a crutch (and with odd shoes), and thanks to Thirkers steel toe capped boots, and Verners lack of them, Verner now has a flat foot.
I've not seen Leeds play live since Watford away last season, and I've not seen us lose live for about three years now. Being a southern based part timer does have it's advantages I suppose.
The first half was fairly stale, I thought we perhaps edged it, but there very few clear cut chances that I remember. Dacourts free kick being our best effort. Viduka was full of attempted tricks when he got going, but either there was no one on the end of them or he mistimed his trickery.
I was beginning to resign myself to the draw when Saints went and spoiled things. Woody was to blame for the goal, being caught out of position 3 minutes before half time.
The second half threatened to be more of the same, despite Bowyers missed chance straight from the kick off. Kewell came on for Wilcox, but never really looked as if he'd change that much. In fact I'd go so far as to say that I thought we looked more dangerous with Wilcox than we did with Harry.
Things livened up in the last 20 minutes, but were sparked by the wrong reasons. El Kahlej stayed down in the Saints area after Ferdinand walked past him. Saints put the ball into touch so he could have his mascara touched up. Gary Kelly took the resulting throw in to Smith, who turned his man and blasted a shot into the side netting. Saints who wanted the ball back claimed that Smith was being unsporting, conveniently forgetting their mans antics not a minute before.
An off the ball incident from the resultant goal kick ended in a number of Southampton teddies being thrown from the pram, missed punches were thrown, people fell over, other players tried to restrain more players and the ref looked on at the chaos from twenty yards away. He finally reacted but it was too late to stop it escalating.
The result was Smith got booked, Kachloul got sent off and tried to butt Bowyer on his way past ( I don't think Bowyer would lend him his shower gel).
things calmed down on the pitch but at last the crowd had woken up. On the tier above me was the fracas that Jabba talked about, on the lower tier one or two Leeds and Saints fans exchanged words through a cordon of Police and Stewards for the rest of the game, whilst the rest of us concentrated on what we were there for - the football.
End result 1-0 to Saints. Can't say we deserved to lose but I'm not sure we deserved to win either.
Overall I think that we've seen yet another mid-week hangover against a team we should be able to beat. On another day, Dacourts free kick and Bowyers 2nd half opener would have burst the net and things would have been different. Here's hoping that with a long break from the Champions League schedule we'll be able to string some results together.
Not a good way to play our last Premiership game at the Dell, still next season Saints'll be playing in a half full shiny new ground.
These are testing times to be a Leeds fan. Bask in the glow of superb performances in Europe. Smirk at the Arsenal and Liverpool fans at work as the top teams are beaten. Then scratch your head in confusion as the points just slip away in the league. It's hard to put your finger on it - and I'm sure DOL is equally frustrated.
For most of this game, we had more of the ball, looked more confident, got into better positions and generally looked like we should repeat last year's 3-0 result. One slip just before half-time should never have had such an effect on the destination of the points, but it's par for the course for this season that it did. DOL decided to keep Lucas on the bench and play a back four - possibly with a view to the captain's absence through suspension next week against Sunderland. Rio and Woody may very well play in tandem for England before long - and they generally looked pretty solid today. Dominic Matteo continues to be favoured over Ian Harte, and on the right, Gary Kelly does seem to have picked his game up now and remains the only one of the squad with a 100% record this season.
Paul Jones had a very quiet day in goal for the Saints - but he did make a good stop from Rio and palmed a Dacourt free kick over the bar. But we never came close to testing him enough and the Saints goal remained intact. Just before the break, a poor ball out of defence (from Rio?) found Marian Pahars. He returned it with interest, the diagonal ball leaving Woody trying to mark two players, and James Beattie taking advantage to slip the ball past Robbo. Still - with a whole half of the game to go, that wasn't a problem was it?
Sadly it was. The ball was retained, worked well around the team and then given up as the crowded Saints midfield and defence gave Bowyer and Dacourt no space. When Harry came on for Jason Wilcox we hoped for some improvement, but he barely saw the ball, and needed to come massively deep to get hold of it.
A generally even-tempered match flared up towards the end. Olivier Dacourt picked up his 9th booking of the season (some were fortunately in Europe) and must be on course for a visit to the FA shortly. Matthew Oakley's challenge was a bit late and he too was booked. Then things got a bit frantic. Woody was booked for winning the ball seemingly fairly. Kachloul tripped Smith but it was his failure to retreat at the resulting free kick that won him his first card, and when Smithy and Mark Draper got involved in a minor handbag match over nothing in particular, Kachloul did his best to get involved, mouthed off at referee Durkin to complete his pair of yellow cards and then aimed what looked like a head butt at Lee Bowyer on the way off.
Against 10 men for 10 minutes, we did of course, have no chance. The whistle went, we trooped off as the heavens opened. Three more points gone and no scapegoat for DOL to pick on for this week: although it would be hard to point at a Leeds player that had a great game, none of them had a stinker, but we just couldn't figure out how to break down an increasingly-solid looking Southampton team. Maybe when they move from this compact little ground to some soul-less tin box near the airport, the atmosphere and spirit will move with the, but somehow I doubt it: their performances at the Dell have helped keep them up on more than one occasion, and I'd bet that most of the fans would prefer to stay there and keep the atmosphere (despite the abysmal seats for the away fans, there are so many decent pubs and the train station is nice and close too). But if we win a few more at St Marys I won't complain too much...
Copy from Football Unlimited of 11/12/2000.
The FA's disciplinary panel, looking forward to television's undemanding Christmas fare, have a potboiler to watch first. As this game progressed from stirring to agitated, the lid came off just before the end and most of both sides ran to add to the steam. Mark Draper and Alan Smith, who had turned up the heat, saw yellow and Hassan Kachloul, booked moments before, was sent off.
The Guardian would have blamed the monarchy. What did the Queen expect when she promised on Wednesday that her government would introduce legislation to tackle disorderly conduct? Yobs will be yobs - a yob is only a backward boy, after all - and they were naturally keen to take the chance before the law bites. Glenn Hoddle may bite sooner.
"I didn't like Kachloul's reaction and he will be dealt with severely," said Southampton's manager after the Moroccan appeared to feign a butt at Lee Bowyer on his way off.
Copy from The Independent of 09/12/2000.
Throughout the history of European conflict certainly since the advent of European football the problem has vexed the greatest strategists. How to fight a war on two fronts?
Few have found a satisfactory solution perhaps, in the modern English game, only Sir Alex Ferguson. Now, Leeds' over-stretched army are finding that glorious victory on a famous foreign field is no guarantee of happiness on the home front. Indeed, if anything, wins like Tuesday's in Rome serve to motivate humbler domestic opponents.
Yesterday, Southampton were not kow-towing to any burgeoning continental reputations. They dug in determinedly, rode out a filthy tempered late storm during which Hassan Kachloul was dismissed for his prominent role in a mass outbreak of disorder, and hung on to the first-half goal scored by their in-form striker James Beattie.
In fairness, there was no sign of fatigue or undermotivation in the Leeds side. Having navigated the turbulent current of the River Tiber they brought a suitably determined attitude to the banks of the Solent.
Lee Bowyer and Olivier Dacourt were soon snapping and snarling. But, no one was about to be intimidated and, importantly, neither side really permitted the other to play. Perhaps the deluge did not help but, for half an hour, the game was little more than an elongated slide tackle. It was truly attritional and, when good football was played, Southampton were responsible.
The recall of Marian Pahars was a mercy for which neutrals could be grateful. He flits and glides with an imagination which decorates grim afternoons like this. Kevin Davies, a powerful raider down the right flank, was the Saints' other chief creative source; indeed, Beattie should have converted one of his crosses before eventually scoring shortlybefore half-time.
By then, Leeds might have dug out a goal. Rio Ferdinand, who defended admirably in tandem with Jonathan Woodgate, saw a header deflected wide and Dacourt's free-kick was turned over by Paul Jones in Southampton's goal.
However, there had been relatively few heart-in-mouth moments before Joe Tessem prompted from midfield, Pahars slid a smartly weighted pass into Beattie's run and the striker took it on neatly to score his seventh goal in six games.
"Sitting in the stands I knew he was going to score,'' said Glenn Hoddle. "More importantly, he knew.'' The Saints manager was justifiably proud of his team's display. His plan to crowd midfield worked admirably and he was delighted at his players' implementation of a tactical plan. Less pleasing, however, were the two late yellow cards (and consequent red) shown to Kachloul, who turned out to be the most sinful culprit of several candidates as tempers flared.
Ultimately, the Moroccan's dismissal was for an inappropriate word in the direction of the referee, a needless offence which infuriated his manager. Said Hoddle: "He's in the dressing-room feeling sorry for himself but he'd be feeling worse if we'd dropped points.''
Hoddle's frown, however, was not as pronounced as that of his opposite number, David O'Leary. Leeds threatened sporadically in the second half and they had a late dart at the 10 men. But O'Leary was honest enough to concede that "I don't think we deserved to win".
Thereafter he was lured into a heartfelt appreciation of Manchester United's two-fronted success and, noting their draw at Charlton, observed: "That's the difference. Maybe they weren't at their best today. But if you don't play well, you don't get beat."
Copy from Football Unlimited of 10/12/2000.
Handbags, fists and insults were flying around The Dell during another bizarre display from David O'Leary's exasperating Leeds side.
They beat Arsenal, then get hammered by Leicester; they crush Lazio in Rome and then go down in this sorry game. A first-half James Beattie goal deservedly won it for Southampton, who are becoming an increasingly safe bet to stay up.
Leeds, meanwhile, don't know which way to look. They have won only once away in the Premiership, form which finds them in their lowest league position for 18 months. They are in rapid danger of becoming this season's Chelsea - over-achieving in Europe while being flaky on the home front.
Copy from SportLive of 09/12/2000.
SportLive is no longer operational. Should it return to the web, this report will be removed and the link restored.
Not even victory in the Eternal City can guarantee eternal success. Leeds were brought crashing back to earth after the incredible high of beating Lazio on Tuesday in Rome as James Beattie scored his seventh goal in six games to claim a precious win for Southampton.
At an alarming rate Leeds are discovering this season just how ephemeral form can be.
Divine in Europe against the cream of continental teams, they have only sporadically reaped such highs against domestic opposition and Saturday was definitely not one of these days.
Their unconvincing display was exacerbated by a Saints side who were aggressive, resilient and creative throughout. Even when a melee broke out five minutes from the end of the match which resulted in a second yellow card for Hassan Kachloul they would not be broken and thoroughly deserved three points.
Marian Pahars, who supplied a killer ball which released Beattie for the decisive blow, was an inspiring influence.
And so the conquerors of Rome were defeated at The Dell for only the second time in their last 10 visits. The irony is that through their very progression in the Champions League, intoxicating as this journey has become, they may find themselves excluded from participation next year.
Every celebration in Europe's premier club competition seemingly produces a hangover for Leeds in the Premiership.
And it is only via the Premier League that David O'Leary's men can expect to taste Champions League football again next year.
The visitors could have no complaint about the result. From the start they lacked penetration and a cutting edge and Southampton's confidence gradually grew as they crept towards their fourth win from nine games at home.
In fact, Matthew Oakley had a chance to claim an early lead for the Saints when Jo Tessem set him up on the edge of the area but his shot flew over.
A couple of minutes later Oakley found Pahars whose volley forced a good save from Robinson whose handling was decidedly nervy at times. A clear example of this was when Kevin Davies fired in a low cross from the right and the Leeds' goalkeeper, who has produced some heroic efforts this season, spilled the ball at the near post but was saved by Jonathan Woodgate who cleared.
Leeds were still unable to find a rhythm and were reduced to long-range efforts from Eirik Bakke and Olivier Dacourt, both of whom failed to hit the target from around 25 yards.
It was from a corner kick that they came closest to breaking the deadlock when Lee Bowyer picked out Rio Ferdinand whose 14-yard header almost caught out Paul Jones, who just managed to palm the ball away.
But it was Pahars who slipped through the telling ball which Beattie latched on to having lost Ferdinand off his shoulder and the striker kept his cool to despatch his shot into the bottom corner.
Two months ago Southampton accepted a £2million offer from Crystal Palace for Beattie but the Blackburn-born talisman refused to move and his recent form has left him thoroughly vindicated. Glenn Hoddle, who persisted with Uwe Rosler at the start of the season, now knows who his most effective hitman is.
Leeds almost scored from the kick-off that began the second half, Alan Smith feeding Bowyer and his shot from just inside the area produced a good save from Jones.
Smith directed a free header wide and a ball from Dacourt to the back post just evaded Viduka before an altercation between Southampton substitute Mark Draper and Leeds striker Smith prompted a stand-off that comprised almost the entire teams.
Smith and Draper both raised their hands but it was Kachloul who found himself trooping off.
Leeds must find form in the league now if their Premiership challenge is not to tail off.
Southampton (4-4-2): Jones 7; Dodd 7, El Khalej 6, Lundekvam 7, Bridge 7; Davies 8, Tessem 7, Oakley 7, Kachloul 6; Beattie 8, Pahars 8 (Draper 75, 6), Booked: El Khalej 81 86, Draper 85. Goal: Beattie 43.
Leeds (4-4-2): Robinson 6; Kelly 6, Woodgate 7, Ferdinand 7, Matteo 5; Bowyer 7, Bakke 7, Dacourt 6, Wilcox 7 (Kewell 57, 6); Smith 7, Viduka 6. Booked: Bakke 13, Woodgate 78, Dacourt 80, Smith 85.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 11/12/2000.
THERE'S a saying what a difference a day makes - well in this case, make it a few days as Leeds United were brought shudderingly back down to earth at Southampton on Saturday.
A mere matter of 92 hours after United's Roman conquest of Italian giants Lazio in the Champions League, they were beaten by Saints who simply strangled them out of the bread and butter Premiership clash.
It's hard to be too critical of United, though, as they contributed more than their fair share to the hugely entertaining end to end drama.
And they more than played their part in the disagreement at the end which saw Southampton's Hassan Kachloul ordered off for taking swipes at Lee Bowyer and Alan Smith before topping the scale of madness by arguing with referee Paul Durkin.
And all this just five minutes after he had been booked for dissent.
But by the time the Moroccan took the slow walk to his early bath to the ridiculous cheers of adulation from the Southampton fans, United's chances of getting a point had reached the football equivalent of banging your head against a rusty iron spike.
Despite having much of the play on their last league visit to the now crumbling and totally inadequate Dell, United didn't really fire as Saints followed on from where Leicester City left off in the league last week.
"No disrespect to the Leicesters and Southamptons of this world but we shouldn't be getting beaten by those teams," said disappointed manager David O'Leary.
With skipper Lucas Radebe rested but on the bench, United paired £18m man Rio Ferdinand with Jonathan Woodgate at the heart of defence. Ian Harte was also missing and his left-back position went to Dominic Matteo.
And the defence showed some good signs for the future even though the odd finger was pointed in the direction of Matteo after James Beattie grabbed the only goal of the game.
Matteo was caught out when Marian Parhars played a slide-rule pass in the 43rd minute and by the time he had realised the danger, Beattie had finished with style that befits a striker with seven goals in his last six games.
No, despite that blip, defence was not the problem.
It was in midfield where United were choked as Saints stuck to Glenn Hoddle's master plan to the very letter.
The former England coach even claimed afterwards that his negative plan had worked a treat and droned: "We knew if we could hassle them in midfield and restricted the amount of ball the guys up front got we would do okay."
But Hoddle's plan to bore the pants of the paying public backfired. Saints did strangle Leeds but played some good football at the same time.
And United, on another day, would have taken at least three of their chances.
Smith, his usual spiky self in attack, was denied by Claus Lundekvam's brave header after just two minutes, while Eirik Bakke and Olivier Dacourt repeatedly tried their luck - luck which repeatedly bad as their shots were deflected wide or smothered by Paul Jones.
Not that it was one-way traffic. Ferdinand - although he should have scored with a header from a Bowyer corner with the score 0-0 - and Woodgate were colossal for long periods as they, between them, collected the dangerous Parhars and took turns to place him in their back pockets.
But the real danger came from Kevin Davies on the right. He was at the heart of everything good about their play, constantly setting Beattie clear meaning more work for the defence.
The goal came just seconds after Dacourt's 30-yard free-kick was brilliantly turned away by Jones. The resulting corner was cleared and Parhars and Beattie did the rest.
Smith set up Bowyer seconds after the restart - but if only it had been the other way around as Bowyer's finish lacked confidence allowing Jones the sort of save he wouldn't have had a chance to make from a striker.
Harry Kewell was sent on 11 minutes into the second half and even his trickery - which shows, at least, he is not far from his best - couldn't rescue United.
But it was mighty close. As he skipped through three bedazzled Saints defenders, the Australian looked up and crossed to Mark Viduka.
But his fellow countryman couldn't quite make contact with Jones beaten and the defence absent and the chance was gone.
There was time for excitement of a different nature as the temperature was heated to boiling point. United didn't give the ball back to Saints when they kicked it out to allow treatment for the acting Tahar El Khalej - treatment Durkin refused.
United were well within their rights given the circumstance - but Saints didn't see it that way and the tackles started to fly.
Dacourt was booked for cutting Mark Draper off by the knees, Kachloul saw yellow for kicking the ball away after Smith made him look a fool and he conceded a free-kick.
Then Smith and Draper squared up after Kachloul fell over for no reason and the pair were joined by about 10 of their combined team-mates.
Kachloul rose from the ground to lose the plot completely and more than earn his second yellow card.
It was a factor that annoyed O'Leary. "The crowd got vamped-up, and it was handbags all over the place.
"The game doesn't need that and I don't like it.
"Dacourt deserved his booking, but apart from those few minutes there was nothing in the game," he said.