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I actually thought we played better against Blackburn than we did against Fulham, unfortunately Blackburn are a much better team and punished our defensive mistakes.
We continued with the odd 4-3-3 formation that involves Kewell playing on the right and Smith on the left and with Wilcox's legs struggling in midfield, despite Kelly and Bakke's best efforts this allowed the excellent Tugay to totally dominate the midfield at times.
A similar start to the Tottenham game though where we were generally on top for the first 30 minutes and deserved to take the lead, with Viduka following up as Friedel parried Kewell's shot. Unfortunately all the good work was undone when Duberry needlessly waved his arm at a corner and Dunn send Robinson the wrong way from the spot. Confidence then began to ebb away a bit and we were glad enough to get to half-time level.
We actually started the second half better with Kewell as usual the biggest threat and I thought we may well win it but again a stupid giveaway of possession in midfield let Yorke put Cole away and though Robinson saved the first attempt he put away the rebound. More poor concentration allowed Todd to sidefoot home from a corner after Robinson came for and totally missed the cross. This provided the cue for Danny Mills to win the Alan Smith I can't take losing award, as he piled into challenges in an effort to reduce the amount of Blackburn players on the pitch after they'd used all 3 subs. He was very lucky to escape red after a late leg breaking tackle on Gresko, when Durkin waved advantage and failed to go back to punish him. Cole was also getting involved in the odd flare-up and seemed intent on accompanying Mills down the tunnel.
A late bit of excitement when the centre-backs totally left a long ball forward and allowed Smith to head past Friedel into the empty goal. We were then left with 4 minutes of injury time to chase the equaliser and had a shout for penalty when Johnson who'd come on for Bakke fell under a challenge in the final seconds - but it wasn't given and so it looks likely we'll face a very nervous last game vs Villa.
Robinson 6 - At fault for 3rd goal but hasn't made many mistakes this year.
Overall the team fought hard but we lacked any real class or dominance and threw it all away with stupid mistakes.
Very annoyed by this game on two counts. Firstly our bloody shambolic defending - what the hell does Duberry think he's up to - that was such a gimme - he needs to get his basic defending sorted because one comedy right wing charge doesn't make you a footballer ; then bloody Bakke and his masterclass in not controlling a ball in the midfield ; then chuffing Robinson (who has been conducting his own private version of the Alamo this year and has to be pretty blameless all in all) flapping at a corner, which was compounded by the rest of the team who clearly decided that no-one need bother picking up the bloke on the back post. We didn't even make them work for it.
Secondly - Paul Durkin. The worst refereeing performance I've seen for an age - guy's down with a head injury, does he stop the game ? Does he hell. Mills should have walked for his reckless legbreaking challenge - ref apparently didn't see it. Then the 4 decent penalty appeals we had in the 2nd half - Kewell shoved at the back post; 2 handballs and then the bloody rugby tackle on Johnson in the last minute. Scandalous.
Like somebody else has said we weren't too bad for most of the first half. Kelly, Wilcox and Bakke closing down - Kewell and Viduka making chances - we never had the individual quality in midfield of Tugay or Duff - but as a team we were marginally ahead on points. Viduka scored following a strong run through the middle - laying it off to Harry who took it on and shot. Friedel parried and it fell to Viduka following up.
We were coping pretty well Matteo was looking good and Harte (breathing a sigh of relief that Gillespie wasn't playing) had a decent game. Then came the penalty, that let them back in and from then on we looked vulnerable.
At the start of the second we could have had a couple - both from Viduka - one where he span beautifully on the spot, lost his man and instead of lashing it with his left he tried some half arsed flick with the outside of his right boot which defenders closed down.
We had been in a goodish groove when 1-0 up - this disappeared when they equalised and our passing became panicky, shots were snatched at - confidence is really thin at Leeds at the moment. And when we went 1-3 down we just started lashing out - Mills being worst culprit. What has happened to him? He was a quality full back in the World Cup right now you'd swap him for almost anyone.
Smith's late goal was down to him applying himself and chasing the cause for the first time really - he had a bad game. If its not about spirit from Smith then half of his game is gone. This was his last game of the season he should have been sweating blood. Fair enough he went in where it hurts as their defence fannied around and got his reward. Good luck to him, but he disappointed me on Saturday.
Leaves us on the edges of our seats for the Villa game - can't see anything more than a draw at Arse, and that's with the rose-tinted's firmly on.
Reid might just do the trick in avoiding relegation but I'm not convinced by what I've seen that I want him in charge next year if we stay up. He'll be ideal if we go down though.
Copy from Football Unlimited of 28/04/2003.
Leeds simply refuse to make life easy for themselves. Needing a win finally to be safe from relegation, they took the lead before their opponents had so much as a chance and for much of the following 20 minutes dominated possession with the type of effortless confidence that so recently took them to the semi-finals of Europe's premier competition. But even at their most impressive if you had asked the audience to raise their hands if they felt that something would still go wrong, most would swiftly have been reaching skywards.
Perhaps that is what happened to Michael Duberry. Certainly there is no logical explanation for his decision to wave his arm in the air as David Dunn's corner floated into the area. The penalty was as blatant as it was bizarre, the former Chelsea defender even being booked, presumably for gross idiocy. When Eirik Bakke gave away possession in midfield to allow Dwight Yorke to put Andy Cole through for a second goal, and then when everybody forgot to mark the substitute Andy Todd from Damien Duff's corner, there was little surprise.
"There's good players here, and they kept going, and I was pleased with that," said Peter Reid. "But you can't legislate for them goals. What do you say to a lad who jumps up and handles the ball? And an international who doesn't deal with a bouncing ball in the middle of the park? You can't give away goals like that. It puts too much pressure on yourselves. We've got to score four goals to win a home game and that's crazy. You can't do it."
Copy from Football Unlimited of 27/04/2003.
Leeds United are not out of the woods. This defeat by a well organised Blackburn Rovers team leaves the Yorkshire men with still the mathematical possibility of getting entangled in the relegation fight.
Rovers' well-drilled defence survived the surprise of an earlier Mark Viduka goal and, with Duff and Cole pulling the strings, gave the Leeds defence a troubled afternoon.
Alan Smith was making his final League appearance of the season as a result of his two-match suspension for a red card against Southampton. Although Lucas Radebe was fit he started on the bench, as manager Peter Reid retained the side which beat Fulham 2-0 midweek.