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Was it a dream. Surely that 6-1 at Charlton was just a mass delusion on our part, cos today Leeds played much like they have for the rest of the season. People playing out of position, no midfield and an abject defeat to a fairly average team. The 2 goals in the last few minutes really just flattered us and made the game look closer than it really was.
We started with Mills and Dubes at C-B, with Kelly and Nephew at full-back and Wilcox coming in at left midfield, Kewell switching to the right with Matteo and Bakke in the middle. We started reasonably but Southampton gradually took control in midfield and apart from a couple of runs by Kewell and a shot just wide by Smith we rarely threatened. Southampton weren't making many clear chances but with Mills continuing his abject recent form and Duberry always a worry (nearly heading it over Robinson at one point) we looked shaky. A goal duly arrived, Mills backing off when he had a chance to make a tackle outside the box and Robinson only parrying the resultant shot to Ormerod who poked home. Robinson had to make a couple of decent saves and referee Halsey added to the frustration of the Leeds fans by giving them every decision over a ten minute period, prompting huge ironic cheers when we actually got a decision.
Another goal before half-time when we totally failed to mark either striker and get a decent challenge in from a cross and we looked dead and buried. The midfield were just not in the game and our strikers were seeing very little of the ball, it desperately looked like we needed a change. We have one decent centre-back and he was running around lost in midfield whilst the defence struggled, and with Wilcox anonymous our only midfield presence consisted of Bakke fouling people. Unfortunately the team re-emerged with no changes and the game carried on in the same vain. It didn't take long for Mills to again be beaten by the ball over the top and Beattie set Svensson up for the third. The frustration levels were rising, Mills was subbed for Barmby to stop him being sent off, and Smith, Bakke and Kewell picked up bookings in quick succession. Thankfully you can't be relegated from the fair play league. Then after challenging for a high ball, Smith kicked out at a defender as they fell and was inevitably sent off.
At this point it looked like we'd lose by five and six, but the away support which had been noisy throughout took up the challenge with a 10 minute long "We all love Leeds" chant, which later morphed into "We're Leeds and we're proud of it", "WATC-COE" and various others as we kept up the cacophony to the final whistle. Best support all year.
In the midst of this the team actually improved, Kewell was now playing free off Viduka with a midfield of Bakke, Wilcox and Barmby and strangely it worked. One good Viduka run, failed to produce a shot but shortly after Kewell beat the offside trap before turning the defender and firing in a consolation with 10 minutes left. Southampton were still making chances but Robinson kept them at bay and we contended ourselves with taunting the silent Southampton fans. "3-1 and you still don't sing" "You're the worst support we've ever seen", "Nice ground, sh*t fans" etc.
In the last minute of injury time a Duberry nod-on enabled Barmby to volley home from a narrow angle on the turn, but by the time we'd recovered from the shock of Barmby best couple of seconds of the year the ref had blown the final whistle. Still the fans had rescued another depressing day and looking at the two sets of supporters at the end you would have thought we'd have won.
Robinson 7 - Made some good saves - but defence left him too exposed too
I think we'll all be glad when this season is over.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 21/04/2003.
There are some footballers who can be so dim that they need a personal set of floodlights and Alan Smith produced such a performance on Saturday as Leeds resolutely kept themselves in the relegation frame.
Two challenges, both callow and callous, saw him sent off for the ninth time in his embryonic career and left the caretaker manager Peter Reid shaking his head.
"It's happened too many times," he said. "Alan gave the referee an excuse to send him off and Mr Halsey took it."
Copy from Football Unlimited of 20/04/2003.
Alan Smith was sent off for the third time this season and the second at Southampton's St Mary's Stadium as Leeds, outplayed for much of the match, staged a late rally with 10 men to give the scoreline a misleading appearance.
Southampton were already three goals ahead and cruising when Smith was sent off for a second petulant foul in three minutes.
The talented but troubled Leeds striker was sent off at the same venue while playing for England against Macedonia earlier in the season and he can blame no one for this, his ninth dismissal of a turbulent career.