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Copy from Football Unlimited of 07/03/2002.
Peace has broken out at Leeds United. Another strained period in the club's recent history ended in relative harmony last night as David O'Leary's side gathered their first win since New Year's Day. It was far from pretty but, for now, the dissenters will keep their silence and Brian Kidd, the scapegoat of their recent malaise, need not feel quite so persecuted.
There is a long way to go before Leeds can boast they are back to their exhilarating best but Robbie Fowler's ninth goal for the club and an Ian Harte penalty will go some way towards lifting the foreboding while leaving Ipswich hovering perilously above the relegation zone. If the vitriol aimed towards Kidd by Leeds's supporters at Everton on Sunday ensured that, before kick-off, there was a climate of uncertainty, a new wave of optimism was clearly detectable after the final whistle.
Harte had demonstrated the players' support for Kidd by leading a 50-yard dash to celebrate his penalty en masse with the Leeds head coach, and O'Leary spoke later of his hope that the scenes at Goodison Park could be regarded merely as a distasteful one-off. "I didn't know the players were going to do that but I'm delighted for Brian. He's a quiet man and he probably wouldn't have wanted it but he would have been thrilled, too," said O'Leary. "I think he has learned how popular he is within the club."
Copy from Yorkshire Evening Post of 07/03/2002.
THAT rare and priceless commodity called luck finally made an appearance at Elland Road last night as Leeds lifted the tension with their first win in 10 games.
It was certainly not pretty and at times it was downright dreadful, played as a gale howled around Elland Road, but the fact that United came away with all three points was invaluable.
The supporters had waited 65 anxious days to once again savour the sweet taste of success and the sheer sense of relief was evident as David O'Leary's men walked off to a standing ovation.
A flukey first goal from Robbie Fowler, which struck a divot and bounced over Andy Marshall, and a dubious penalty, when the hapless keeper was adjudged to have pulled down Alan Smith, was enough to put the smiles back on United fans' faces.
This was a must-win game for the Whites in more ways than one. Under-fire from almost every angle, there is no telling the damage another defeat or even a draw would have done. The fact that they actually won the game should now go a long way to rebuilding some of the confidence which has been shattered in recent weeks.
Going into the game they had not won since New Year's Day, had failed to score in more than six-and-a-half hours of football and there were still visible scars from Sunday's barracking of head coach Brian Kidd.
Come the end of 90 minutes and at least two of those issues had been settled; however, it remains to be seen if the fans will ever truly welcome Kidd into the bosom of their family.
There was certainly no repeat of the disgraceful chanting which was heard at Goodison Park - but there was still no supportive chanting of Kidd's name as there was for manager O'Leary and assistant Eddie Gray.
That may come with time. Like the team's display, it would be wise for everyone within the club to take this recovery both slowly and steadily.
O'Leary admitted he did not really care about the performance, the result was all that mattered. The good football can come later. What Leeds desperately need right now is points on the board.
And if they get the luck they enjoyed last night then there is still a real chance that they can reignite their push for a Champions League place by finishing in the top four.
The first-half display was one of a team who looked desperate to do well but who were tense and unsure of themselves. Too many times a move would break down as players buckled under the pressure of expectancy.
United fans had heeded the words of O'Leary, who had called for 90 minutes of noise to settle his fragile players. However, while the chanting was loud and supportive the boys in white still lacked the kind of form which had seen them lead the championship race just two months ago.
Indeed it took another steady display from fit-again Rio Ferdinand to settle a few of the jitters.
As his fellow Leeds players struggled to get the nerves out of their system, the skipper's touch was assured and the confidence in his own ability soon started to rub off on those around him.
One man who never seems to require a confidence boost is Alan Smith. The young star was brilliant in midfield - tackling hard, fighting for every ball and then showing his class with some quality passing and crossing.
He, together with David Batty, was the heartbeat of the home side as they desperately tried to find a way through.
Ipswich, struggling at the wrong end of the table, were a shadow of the side which shocked the Premiership last year. Little idea going forward, their best chance fell to Alun Armstrong but he headed Mark Venus' corner wide.
Smith was the architect of United's best moments, sending Harry Kewell away only to see Herman Hreidarsson knock away the Aussie's cross just as it seemed destined for Mark Viduka.
Leeds desperately needed something inspirational or extremely fortuitous to break their duck, and the latter came within 16 seconds of the restart.
Fowler, who had scored Leeds' previous goal seven hours and 21 minutes of football ago at Middlesbrough, popped up to score possibly the luckiest strike of his career.
Viduka chased a long ball forward and touched it back to Fowler, who took his time and teed up what looked to be a weak, dipping volley from the edge of the penalty box. But as the ball bounced in front of the diving Marshall, it took a strange bounce and looped over the outstretched arms of the bewildered keeper and into the net.
Pressure lifted, tension eased, Leeds were finally able to play something close to resembling their attacking style of football.
Ipswich skipper Matt Holland did flash a drive narrowly past Nigel Martyn's post, but it was Leeds who were now creating some great chances.
Viduka and Eirik Bakke saw shots charged down and Fowler had an effort saved by Marshall. But once again it took an intervention from Lady Luck to give United the chance of a second.
Fowler's long cross-field pass was aimed for Smith but as it dropped short to John McGreal the central defender nodded a header back for his keeper. Smith had read the situation perfectly and beat Marshall to the ball, touched it past him but then went down.
Referee Dermot Gallagher pointed straight to the spot when other officials may have given the benefit of the doubt to the keeper. Ian Harte gleefully took the chance to fire the spot-kick home - his first goal since December 22 against Newcastle - and then ran across, with three or four other players, to give head coach Kidd a big hug.
Leeds had finally won a game and it made a welcome change for the players to walk off the field with the sound of 'We're Leeds and we're proud of you' ringing in their ears.