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Me n me mates decided we'd settle for 1-1 at half time. In the end that was selling ourselves short. Villa were crap (2 shots on goal, and only 1 of those against 10 men) and we could have won it.
Yes Smith does have a problem, but its what makes him the player he is as well. I don't know sometimes you have to take the rough with the smooth. Its like criticising Harry for not being a 90 min. player and "only" scoring important goals. For my money I'd still pick him over Keane for a starting 11 - Keane managed again to miss 3 or 4 good chances (although as 1 of them the choice was Schmeichel's head or the ball I suppose you can't blame him). It's hard to crib Keane on yesterday's game cos he had a bloody hard job to do and he stuck at it like a good'un, but we could have been 3-0 up before Smith was sent off.
There's no excuse for what Smith did, and maybe seeing Viduka and Keane playing together for the 3 games he's suspended will teach him a lesson - I hope so, but I doubt it. Straight after the sending off though we lost the plot - Johnson's challenge that got him booked (and led to the goal) was reckless.
Danny Mills is just a thug who can't defend, but is v quick getting forward and crosses pretty well. He spent most of yesterday's game trying to remove Kachloul's Achilles tendons without the benefit of anaesthetic. Then mouthing off at the linesman - he's an idiot. Its only his pace and Rio's covering that saves him, defensively.
Batty, Rio, Matteo, and Bakke had storming games - with Batty being MOTM once again - although top marks to Rio for his control and run down the right in the 2nd half, shimmying past 2 defenders... don't we need a right-sided player? Wilcox had one of his better games, put in a lot of effort, without too much end product. Personally I thought that DoL should swap Wilcox for Dacourt when Smith went off, just to strengthen the middle.
Although by all the rules of the game Hendrie should have walked - how can the ref be so inconsistent in the space of 30 mins? - that would have made it 10 v 10 for the last half hour and we might well have won then... the fact that the ref let him off so lightly meant that the crowd got going for once... and so there was a bit of an atmosphere.
Villa in Europe ... only if they get a joblot booking on Easyjet.
Peter Schmeichel as Rudolph the Red Nosed Goalkeeper.
Introducing Peter Ridsdale as Father Christmas
Act One: Scene One:
Various Villa Players: "Where are the Leeds players?"
Act One Scene Two:
The Elf is in the corner being harried by a Norwegian Pine, so he passes the ball back to Rudolph.
Crowd: "He's in front of you"
Fx: <Crowd goes fcking mental>
Act One Scene Three:
Ugly sister jumps about saying it's unfair, Leeds are better than us, I want
the sides evened up.
Act One: Scene Four.
Ball floats down the pitch after Seth lunge gives away free kick and Baldy Heeded Moroccan volleys equaliser. Crowd: "Booooooooooooooo."
Fairy proceeds to miss about a million fouls by both teams and linesmen do sod all to correct him.
Ugly Sister. "Listen lads, 1-1 is good enough for a side like Villa at Elland Road, I don't want you going out trying to win the game."
Act Two: Scene One:
DMIFB challenges Sunken Eyed Pixie. Sunken Eyed Pixie takes exception to
DMIFB and pushes him in the faces. DMIFB dives theatrically.
Act Two: Scene Two
AwayCrowd: "You're supposed to be at home, shall we sing a song for you? etc". Crowd: "Whoi the fcking hell are you?"
Leeds outplay Villa despite having one man less and not having bribed the ref. The Angel descends to the bench.
Act Two: final scene.
A Harte free kick is met by Rio who heads against the post with Rudolph stranded. Fairy blows the final whistle. Rio stuffs the Christmas Tree up the Fairy's arse.
Ugly Sister: "We deserved the point"
That's enough pantomime -ed.
Scores on the doors, given by Father Christmas.
Martyn: Had virtually nothing to do: Marks and Spencer's Gift Vouchers
Fairy: Pair of socks (home made)
Copy from Football Unlimited of 25/11/2001.
A match that could be entered in Crufts, such was the level of frothy-mouthed ankle-biting throughout, ended with both sides walking off with their tail between their legs yesterday afternoon.
Superficially Aston Villa should have been trotting off contentedly with a point from a difficult fixture, but the fact that they played against 10 men for an hour rather undermined any pride that Villa might otherwise have taken. Villa's inability to break Leeds United down after Hassan Kachloul had volleyed in a 35th-minute equaliser verged on dreadful. Nigel Martyn made not one save after Kachloul's goal.
It is to be hoped Villa will regret their lack of ambition because Leeds were seriously destabilised by the dismissal of Alan Smith two minutes earlier, the young striker's fourth red card of his 88-game Leeds career. Smith has also walked at Under-21 level and it barely needs saying that he is in danger of his reputation for spite overwhelming his undoubted talent.
Copy from The Independent of 25/11/2001.
Football's shortest fuse blew up in Leeds United's faces again yesterday. Alan Smith, who had put them ahead with a fine early goal, left his colleagues to face Aston Villa for an hour with 10 men after swinging his right elbow into Alpay Ozalan's chest and rightly being shown the fifth red card of his fledgling career.
Villa compounded the punishment administered by the referee, Neale Barry, when Hassan Kachloul equalised three minutes later. One has to wonder, though, whether the cherubic-looking striker will make the connection between his folly and the loss of two points towards Leeds' title challenge. He has been in this position before, for club and country, yet learned nothing.
As recently as Friday, after the 21-year-old had tested the referee's patience during Leeds' Uefa Cup win in Zurich, David O'Leary predicted Smith would eventually control his temper. "He'll learn to walk away," the Leeds manager said. "It'll take time, but he's improving."
Ominously for Smith's prospects of making England's World Cup line-up, the only walk he is practised in is the one leading to an early bath. O'Leary, citing misrepresentation of his words by the media after a recent match with Chelsea, declined to comment on Smith's indiscipline beyond saying there had been "a few minutes' madness".
Sadly, it lasted rather longer than that, and John Gregory admitted afterwards he had effectively dismissed his own player, Lee Hendrie, to spare him Smith's fate after he raised his hands and knocked Danny Mills to the ground two minutes after the interval. "Call it bold, or stupid if you like, but I took him off before he was sent off," the Villa manager said.
Rational voices will deem Gregory's response eminently sensible. But while he said that the referee was "100 per cent correct" to banish Smith "You can't throw an elbow at someone, whether it catches his chest, face or knee-cap" his action in withdrawing Hendrie will merely draw attention to the fact that Mr Barry neglected to order him off.
The Humberside official has already been demoted from the top flight once this season, and this latest incident was strikingly similar to when Dermot Gallagher only cautioned Robbie Keane after he had pushed over David Beckham. Mr Gallagher was also temporarily relegated to the Nationwide League.
Smith had been tempting fate by conducting a personal vendetta against Alpay. As early as the fourth minute he cut him down from behind as the defender shepherded the ball back to Peter Schmeichel, repeating the offence nine minutes later. Both challenges merited a booking, but the referee mystifyingly kept his cards in his pocket until his third assault on Alpay.
By the time Smith departed, mouthing obscenities and claiming gamesmanship by the Turk, Leeds looked to be on course for their first home victory over Villa since 1995. They led from the 18th minute, after Keane intercepted a backpass by Alan Wright to Schmeichel. With the Dane out of his goal he laid the ball back from the byline to Smith. An angled shot from 15 yards found the net via the thigh of Steve Stone on the line.
Villa, who had won on both previous visits to Elland Road, had just been coming into the game. Wright had drawn a sprawling save from Nigel Martyn with a 30-yard drive, followed immediately by a free header which Darius Vassell glanced wide. But Leeds were the livelier side, Schmeichel having to make a stunning one-handed save to keep out Keane's header, before the nature of the contest was dramatically changed in the 32nd minute.
No sooner had Smith paid for his stupidity than Seth Johnson scythed down Stone and was booked. Johnson's indiscretion meant he will be suspended for Leeds' match with Blackburn next month, the day Smith starts a three-match ban, but Villa exacted more immediate retribution. From Paul Merson's free-kick, Kachloul scored with a textbook scissors kick.
The game seemed to be there for the taking for Villa. Yet despite Gregory's commendable willingness to sacrifice his best attacking midfielder, Hendrie, they showed a wretched lack of ambition and enterprise against 10 men, failing to force a single save from Martyn in the second half.
Instead it was O'Leary's team, shorn of Mark Viduka, Harry Kewell and Lee Bowyer, who nearly snatched all three points in stoppage time. Rio Ferdinand, imperious at the back, met Ian Harte's free-kick, but with Schmeichel rooted to the spot, his header hit the post.
Goals: Smith (18) 1-0; Kachloul (35) 1-1.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn 6; Mills 6, Ferdinand 9, Matteo 7, Harte 6; Bakke 6, Batty 7, Johnson 5, Wilcox 5; Keane 5, Smith 3. Substitutes not used: Kelly, Dacourt, McPhail, Duberry, Robinson (gk).
Aston Villa (4-4-2): Schmeichel 7; Stone 5, Alpay Ozalan 6, Mellberg 6, Wright 5; Merson 5, Boateng 5, Hendrie 4 (Taylor 4, 50), Kachloul 6; Angel 4 (Dublin 3, 61), Vassell 5. Substitutes not used: Staunton, Ginola, Enckelman (gk).
Referee: N Barry (Scunthorpe) 5.
Bookings: Leeds: Johnson, Mills. Aston Villa: Hendrie, Wright. Sending off: Leeds: Smith.
Man of the match: Ferdinand.
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 26/11/2001.
WHERE was Clint Eastwood when you needed him?
There was certainly a place set aside for the famous old cowboy yesterday as Leeds and Aston Villa played out their very own version of The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.
The Hollywood-inspired gun-toting hero was possibly the only man who could have kept control of proceedings at Elland Road as what should have been a game between two of the best footballing sides in England descended into a scene from the OK Coral.
And boy how we could have done with a new sheriff in town after match official Neal Barry completely lost the plot.
His decision to send Alan Smith off for an innocuous looking elbow into Alpay's ribs may have been understandable, but for him to then only book Lee Hendrie for thrusting his hands into Danny Mills' face was utterly ludicrous.
On such decisions do results turn and there is no doubt that had either Smith stayed on the field or Hendrie left it then United would have won the match with ease.
The fact that they still came close to picking up all three points even with a one man disadvantage shows once again the depth of character within the squad.
After an energy-sapping encounter in midweek in Zurich they were then asked to play almost an hour against one of the genuine title contenders with just 10 men. It was an extremely tough ask, but this Leeds side won't give up any cause.
They came flying out of the traps at a Villa side who had not lost a game at Elland Road since 1995. This was the good aspect of the day as United played some of their best attacking football of the season.
Smith was at the centre of everything. The hero of Switzerland was once again looking sharp and lively, a constant thorn in Villa's side as he created chances for others and himself.
As early as the fifth minute he was causing panic in the visitor's penalty area, swinging over a deep cross which Peter Schmeichel in the Villa goal flapped at giving Jason Wilcox the chance to play it back for Robbie Keane who completely miss-kicked from six yards.
The dominant start encouraged O'Leary and he immediately pushed Eirik Bakke up in behind Smith and Keane and left the re-called Seth Johnson, David Batty and Jason Wilcox as a three-man midfield.
Frenchman Olivier Dacourt, no doubt rested with the hectic schedule of forthcoming matches in mind, watched from the bench. He must have liked what he saw as United took the lead on 17 minutes thanks to the tenacity of Smith. AChasing down Alan Wright, the Villa defender tried to squeeze the ball back to his keeper. Keane nipped in to steal possession and with Schmeichel hopelessly out of position the Irishman only had to tap the ball back into Smith's path and he fired through a forest of players into the net.
The England striker has only started four games this season, but the fact he has scored three goals just goes to prove, if any were needed, his worth.
He should have had more too as within the space of a minute he tested Schmeichel with a duo of headed chances but neither was good enough to beat the veteran.
Turning provider once again he then lobbed another ball into the area for Keane, who got power on a header and found the target, but unfortunately he also headed straight at the large frame of the great Dane.
United were in complete control but with 33 minutes on the clock things went horribly wrong - the bad period for all concerned with Leeds.
Smith picked up the ball with his back to goal and as he laid it off he thrust his left elbow into the chest of defender Alpay. Some refs would have ignored it, many would have given a yellow card - this one gave a straight red.
Smith will no doubt accept that he was playing with fire by allowing himself to react in such a way, but many will also ask if a nudge in the ribs really does warrant a sending off offence.
It certainly lit the blue touch paper and things turned predictably ugly.
Within a minute Johnson was booked for a foul on Steve Stone, his fifth this season, which will mean a suspension at the same time as Smith.
And from the free-kick it was 1-1 as Paul Merson floated over a cross to the far post and Hassan Kachloul fired in a spectacular mid-air volley.
O'Leary had some work to do at half-time as he looked to re-organise. His tactics were spot on.
But within two minutes it should have been 10 versus 10 as Hendrie lashed out at Mills. With Bakke down injured Mills was trying to get the ball out of play and did not appreciate Hendrie's attempts at keeping the game going. The pair had words and then the Villa midfielder shoved the Leeds defender in the face.
Mills fell to the floor and everybody, including Villans boss John Gregory, assumed Hendrie was about to be the second player of the afternoon enjoying a hot bath on his own.
Unbelievably, however, Mr Barry decided only a yellow was required.
It was a shocking decision and when Gregory immediately withdrew the player and banished him to the changing rooms you got the impression that he knew his side had enjoyed a massive slice of luck.
Things really started to get nasty then as tackles started flying in and little niggly battles erupted all over the park which Barry quite simply could not control.
At least Leeds were trying to play football as they went in search of an unlikely winner. Their defence looking solid, with Rio Ferdinand and Dominic Matteo once again outstanding, it enabled the likes of Batty, Johnson, Wilcox and Bakke the chance to push forward.
They almost snatched that lead back again on the hour when Wilcox found Bakke on the edge of the box. His low drive was fumbled by Schmeichel but though Keane reached the rebound he side-footed over as the keeper dived across him.
Villa, showing a distinct lack of ambition despite having the numerical assendancy, rarely threatened, Alpay having the best opportunity when he fired high over from a Dion Dublin knock-down.
Fittingly it was United who had the final word. It was just unfortunate that when Ferdinand met Harte's injury-time free-kick his header crashed back off the post.
The draw means that the Whites have won just the one Premiership fixture in six. But there is no doubting that O'Leary's magnificent 11 will most certainly ride again.