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What a surreal night, rarely - if ever - can a crowd have chanted the name of someone not actually on the field of play. Banners held up, one huge one passed around, chant after chant. If the telephone votes and web polls showed a split decision on Bowyer's future, the people inside the stadium left no doubt as to how they stood on this matter.
Lee Bowyer is an integral part of the fans' dreams and aspirations on the field of play.
On the field itself, Leeds can maybe be pleased that our anti-bogey team came to out to play. The game was remarkably similar to Sunday's debacle, and the slump nearly as spectacular.
The first half took place with chants involving Lee Bowyer reverberating around Elland Road in between bouts of quiet. The Everton away fans were pittiful. Before Leeds scored the first with Viduka's header, he had blasted two high over the bar with his head. However, when Harte's cross skidded all the way over to Kelly and he cut in to the box, we implored him for another exhibition of his newly found crossing skills. Bless him, he delivered - right on to the head of Pieman who stooped slightly to send Simonsen the wrong way and score his second in two games
Ten minutes later and we saw installment one (of hopefully many) of why Leeds United forked out eleven million quid for Robbie Fowler. The Millenium Dome Head made one of his scything runs down the right wing leaving Everton midfielders in his wake and chipping a ball that bisected two Everton defenders to find the chest of Fowler, on the run (not from the law before any bright spark says summat), on the edge of the box. He controlled the ball and as it fell to his feet, poked it into the corner of the net. It was quintessential Fowler. Two nil and cruising - but hopefully not relaxing.
Fowler almost made it 3-0 and two for him on the night, towards the end of the first half when an exquisite move involving Pieman, Kewell and a multitude of passes and backheels, found Fowler bearing down on goal 20 metres out. He looked almost like he'd scuffed the shot, but it still hit the outside of the post and out of play.
The second half wasn't as dominated by either Leeds, or chants for Lee Bowyer. It was illuminated by the lithe figure of the ex English Pieman, Gazza, being applauded by the Kop as he took a corner and getting the support of the Leeds fans when he received a pathetic booking. "You don't know what you're doing" the Leeds fans shouted at the ref in support of the Geordie!
Even though Leeds were sloppy and couldn't hold on to the ball, Everton didn't really threaten much and when Batty was tempted to shooooooot for the millionth time by us, he finally did. It was a typical Batty shot. Poor. However, it broke through the defence and there again was Fowler who swivelled on to the ball and hit it low. It caught Simonsen's body, but went under and Fowler had his second.
"Same old Robbie, always scoring" sang the Kop.
"Smackhead, smackhead, smackhead" chanted the Everton fans. Fowler and Matteo discussed which one of them was the recipient of the chant.
Off came Batts on came Bakke. Is it just a coincidence that midfield totally lost control at this point? I hate to moan at O'Leary for making a substituion, especially when 3-0 up with ten minutes to go - goodness knows we moan at his lack of changes during a game - but I'd have thought a substitution should shore up a midfield, not allow the other team back in.
It shouldn't have mattered, with Pieman (for the second game in a row) full of running, he sprinted, er lolloped, past the last line of defence and bore down on goal like a fleet footed elephant only to be scythed down as he was about to pull the trigger on his blunderbuss of a shot. Clear penalty.
Not according to the ref. Off Everton galloped and promptly had Max Miller smashing a volley into the net. Another game with no clean sheet.
Four minutes to go, 3-1 up at home and I was seriously nervous about the outcome of ther game, we'd lost control. It seems we need two hard men in midfield at the moment. Glean two from Seth (who was excellent again), Batty and Olly and we look solid - let anyone else into the equation and we look anything but.
Everton scored just into the four minutes of injury time, with a free header in the centre of the box. More dreadful defending. A really nerver wracking final couple of minutes, this time Leeds not quite tossing it away, but almost.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 20/12/2001.
Leeds United moved into third place in the Premiership last night, to within a point of Newcastle United, the side they meet here on Saturday. Robbie Fowler scored his first goals of his Elland Road career along the way as Leeds secured only their second win in six league games. They survived a plucky late rally from Everton, who nabbed two goals in the last six minutes. All this eventful detail was lost, however, in the bigger picture. It goes by the name Lee Bowyer.
Bowyer cast his shadow over the entire evening, literally so as he sat alongside Jonathan Woodgate on the television gantry above the West Stand. The crowd sang his name throughout as he peered down, a supportive banner was unfurled and his colleagues made a great show of acknowledging their transfer-listed mate after Mark Viduka had made it 1-0 in the 20th minute.
Viduka and co gestured in solidarity toward the gantry and left no doubt as to where their sympathy lay. Bowyer was very much included in this celebration. But then he will know that, because he was in the dressing room afterwards. He remains very much part of this team.
Copy from The Independent of 19/12/2001.
"Lose Bowyer, Lose the Title" was the message on one banner at Elland Road last night and without their most controversial player, Leeds almost tossed away a three-goal lead. David Weir's unchallenged header two minutes into stoppage time set Elland Road tingling with nerves against a team with one of the worst away records in the Premiership. The arrival of the leaders, Newcastle, on Saturday should provide more solid evidence whether this fan's concerns are well grounded.
The Leeds players who took the field provided their own show of support to the transfer-listed midfielder by turning to the West Stand to applaud Lee Bowyer after each goal, two of which were scored by Robbie Fowler. On any other evening, Fowler's first goals for his new club, especially a brace against Everton, would have stolen headlines, but this match was as much about those who did not play rather than those who did.
Elland Road had been so drowned in controversy since the verdicts against Bowyer and Jonathan Woodgate were delivered that it seemed hard to believe a football match could take place. It began amid chants from all sections of the stadium for Bowyer, who, like Woodgate, was watching from the television gantry. Even if Bowyer had not been placed on the transfer list for refusing to pay a fine of four weeks' wages, a hamstring injury would have prevented his appearance. In his absence Leeds have stuttered and stumbled, having won one of their five previous Premiership matches without him.
It was ironic, therefore, that his replacement, Gary Kelly, pressed into service on the right flank, should have provided the cross for the opening goal which Mark Viduka's header buried for his eighth goal of the season. Since the Australian had previously sent two similar headers comfortably over the bar, Everton had been given sufficient warning and Walter Smith reacted by immediately introducing Paul Gascoigne.
The options available to the Everton manager were painfully limited. With Duncan Ferguson and Kevin Campbell injured, he has been using Steve Watson as an emergency striker. The Leeds manager, David O'Leary, by contrast, had the luxury of Robbie Keane in reserve.
With the match three minutes old, Everton's poverty was exposed as Thomas Radzinski cut inside from the right and squared to Watson, who eight yards out and unmarked, produced the shot of a full-back. Indeed, the only other attempt on goal Everton managed to scrape together came from a wildly ambitious free-kick from another defender, Alessandro Pistone, although when actually trying to defend, Everton's back four were dangerously fragile.
Again, the goal came from the right side, but this time it was Danny Mills who ran at a retreating Everton defence before providing a little chip which Fowler took down on his chest and then, in one neat movement, drove past Steve Simonsen to score against the club he supported as a boy and on which he has inflicted so much pain in his professional career.
Two minutes before the interval Fowler could have manufactured an even better goal. Harry Kewell, fed by Fowler's back-flick, returned the favour and, from 20 yards, the most natural forward in the domestic game shot against the base of the Everton post. He probably deserved a second, although it arrived slightly fortuitously as David Batty's speculative shot was deflected by Abel Xavier straight into Fowler's path. He steadied himself and shot underneath Simonsen's body. Moments later the keeper managed to turn away Seth Johnson's 20-yard drive at full stretch.
Within a few minutes of the restart, Everton's already paper-thin resources were further exposed as Pistone was taken off on a stretcher with his left leg heavily strapped after an innocuous-looking challenge from Kewell. Watson returned to his proper station at right-back while Joe-Max Moore was pushed on to partner Radzinski. Probably unsurprisingly, Everton looked a slightly more dangerous proposition and five minutes from time Moore volleyed Watson's cross into the corner of the net although by then, they were three down.
They should not have expected anything else. Everton had not won at Leeds since 1951, which makes Newcastle's recently ended winless run in London look almost respectable. History and ability were against them.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn 6; Mills 7, Ferdinand 6, Matteo 7, Harte 5; Kelly 6, Johnston 6, Batty 8 (Bakke, 81), Kewell 6; Viduka 6 (Keane, 88), Fowler 7. Substitutes not used: Duberry, Wilcox, Robinson (gk).
Everton (4-4-2): Simonsen 5; Pistone 6 (Moore 7, 52), Xavier 5, Weir 4, Unsworth 5; Alexandersson 4 (Tal 5, 74), Gemmill 5, Pembridge 5 (Gascoigne 6, 22), Naysmith 4; Watson 4, Radzinski 5. Substitutes not used: Blomqvist, Gerrard (gk).
Referee: P Jones (Loughborough) 4.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 20/12/2001.
LEE BOWYER was handed a timely reminder of just how much he is loved by United's army of fans at an emotion-charged Elland Road last night.
The midfield ace may be on the verge of leaving the club after refusing to accept internal disciplinary sanctions - but there was no doubting his popularity with the Leeds supporters as they cheered and chanted his name throughout the 3-2 victory over Everton.
Sitting up on the television gantry in the west stand, the 24-year-old surely could not have failed to be deeply touched by the level of support shown by every single fan.
Even before a ball was kicked in anger the Kop had blasted out their first rendition of "Stand Up for Lee Bowyer!" and "Bowyer for England".
On a night when £11m new signing Robbie Fowler bagged his first two goals for the club, it was the missing Bowyer who was still foremost in the supporters' minds.
Even the players showed their approval and appreciation of their troubled colleague, waving to team-mates Bowyer and Jon Woodgate during the celebrations for Robbie Fowler's opening goal.
Manager David O'Leary and chairman Peter Ridsdale will join those fans and players in hoping that such a public show of emotion and adoration will help persuade the player to change his mind and accept the fine imposed.
His refusal to accept the sanctions, which include a fine of four weeks' wages, have left the club in an almost impossible position as they seek to repair the tarnished reputation of a club which is trying so hard to improve its image.
Off the field it is accepted at least that it may take some time to put the troubles of the past two years, and particularly few weeks, behind them.
On the pitch, however, things are at least promising to be a different matter as once again Leeds showed glimpses of the form which could run them close to the Premiership title this season.
O'Leary, however, will surely be alarmed by the sudden glut of goals being conceded by a defence once hailed as the meanest in Britain.
After leaking two late strikes against Leicester at the weekend when they should have coasted home 2-0, they almost threw it all away again last night - this time from 3-0 up.
One clean sheet in the last 12 matches is not what O'Leary wants to see from his side and the defending which allowed the Everton fightback will no doubt make for squirmish viewing up at the training ground this week.
But he will be delighted with the fact that two of his most recent signings took this game by the scruff of the neck and lifted United to a level of performance rarely seen this campaign.
Fowler was of course the hero of the night with his double strike but a great deal of credit must also go to midfielder Seth Johnson, who not only covered every blade of grass but who also got stuck in with the tackles and passed the ball about beautifully.
Another player growing in confidence is makeshift winger Gary Kelly, who once again proved he can mix it with the best by putting in a performance full of running and hard work. His pace down the right is a real danger and it was he who set United on their way in the 18th minute.
Mark Viduka had already wasted two chances by putting free headers over the bar. However, when Kelly broke down to the byline and pulled the perfect ball back there was no way the big Aussie could miss and one nod of the head put Leeds ahead.
Fowler got his reward in the 26th minute, scoring his first Leeds goal against his old Merseyside rivals Everton. Chesting down a Danny Mills past, he held off David Weir and Abel Xavier before firing the ball low past Steve Simonsen into the bottom corner.
It was almost 3-0 minutes before the break with the move of the match as Fowler and Kewell linked down the left and the new striker unleashed a low strike which beat Simonsen but came back off the foot of the post.
Everton were having a horrible evening and it got worse soon after the interval when Alessandro Pistone was stretchered off with possible knee ligament damage.
The long break in action seemed to stir the visitors up and they should have had a penalty when Dominic Matteo bundled over slippery Czech striker Tomazs Radzinski but referee Peter Jones waved away the appeals.
Substitute Joe-Max Moore then flashed an effort wide before Leeds appeared to put the game out of reach with a third goal.
David Batty had a rare strike from 25 yards, the ball ricocheted into the path of Fowler and he calmly struck it first time past the helpless Simonsen.
At 3-0 the game should have been well and truly over - and it could have even been four as Johnson saw a low drive palmed around the post. But once again it all went wrong at the death.
First it was American Moore who found the net, smashing a volley across Nigel Martyn and into the bottom corner.
The goal was surely nothing but a mere irritant. However, with two minutes played of the four in injury time the Toffeemen set a few hearts fluttering as Weir rose unchallenged to power Tal's corner past Martyn.
Late goals apart and all circumstances considered this was a good win for United, who next face league leaders Newcastle on Saturday.