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April 30: Derek Lilley scored twice in five minutes to give Morton a 0-2 win at Forfar: they finish in a solid second place in the Scottish 2nd Division, and despite finishing 13 points clear of Peterhead, they must now go through the play-offs if they are to win promotion. Tony Hackworth bagged a last-minute equaliser for Scarborough at Exeter: unfortunately Tamworth also drew and Forest Green picked up a surprising win over Stevenage, so Scarborough are relegated. Finally, Aaron Lennon struck the only goal of the game as Spurs beat Bolton and moved a step closer to securing fourth spot.
April 29: Kevin Blackwell told his team to ignore the ifs and maybes and focus on the match as they prepared for the last game of the regular season at Preston. With North End the likely play-off opponents anyway, it won't make that much difference no matter what the team do on the day. Blackwell said: "As it stands we could play any one of the three sides in there, and finish anywhere in the top six. But whatever happens, happens we can't affect what happens elsewhere. We'll probably keep an eye on the other scores and see how things pan out, but all we can really do is look after ourselves." Blackwell predicted a less than fully committed game: "I think both of us will be looking to keep our powder dry. I want to see a solid performance and see us come through unscathed."
April 28: Jonny Howson and Jermaine Beckford were Leeds' scorers as the reserves won 1-2 at Villa last night. Beckford set up Howson for the opener with about 20 minutes gone, then Howson returned the favour just before half-time. Villa had quite a few first teamers on show, with Hendrie, Moore, De La Cruz and Whittingham all playing - but Beckford and Joel Griffiths were the closest thing Leeds had to experience. The final game of the season is at Wolves on Tuesday night.
April 27: Jamie Forrester's goal blitz has won him a permanent deal at Sincil Bank. Since his arrival on loan from Bristol Rovers, the former Leeds striker has scored five times in seven games and chairman Steff Wright says that his loan spell will be extended to the end of the season and he will then sign a two-year deal when the transfer window opens. Meanwhile Michael Bridges' goal haul has helped Carlisle win promotion and there has been talk of a move to an even higher level next season for the injury-prone front man. But boss Paul Simpson says that the striker will see out the 18-month deal he penned on arrival from Bristol City in the January transfer window. Simpson said: "He is under contract for next season and unless we get a good offer and Michael makes it clear he wants to go he will be here. Like everyone else he wants to play at the highest level he possibly can. From all the noises I am hearing he wants to stay - it's not an issue."
April 27: Sean Gregan says that he's desperate to get a chance to claim a place in the play-off team and use his experience to help Leeds win through. Gregan lost his place alongside Paul Butler through injury, and Matthew Kilgallon has not done much wrong since. Gregan told the YEP: "The injury came at a bad time for me because the 15 games I played before that were as well as I've played all the time I've been here. I was happy with my form - we were keeping clean sheets - and I think we looked strong and solid at the back. We didn't give anything away and we have one of the best defensive records in the division, which says a lot." There could be plenty of team changes for Sunday's trip to Preston - but that may not be indicative of who will get the nod for the semi-finals. Gregan said: "I hope I play on Sunday, but that's in the hands of the gaffer. I'd like to get the chance to show I'm fit and get in his thoughts."
April 27: Mark Viduka was once again instrumental in helping Boro come back from a first leg deficit - and after conceding two early goals as well! Steaua Bucharest were 0-3 up on aggregate before Viduka set up Massimo Maccarone to pull one back just past the half hour. Viduka nodded one home himself in the second half, and after Chris Riggott made it 3-2 on the night, Boro kept on pressing before Maccarone popped up in the last minute to repeat his quarter-final feat and send Boro to Eindhoven in a fortnight. Their opponents will be Sevilla who went through courtesy of an extra-time goal from Antonio Puerta after a goalless first leg and an equally barren 90 minutes tonight.
April 27: Sources from Down Under tell me that Joel Griffiths is less than happy with the opportunity for first team football that he's been afforded at Leeds. After his protracted move from Switzerland, he's been a reserve team regular but his sole first team outing was 15 minutes from the bench against Stoke in March. Griffiths is said to be considering a return to Newcastle or elsewhere in Oz unless Kevin Blackwell can offer him a positive message for the future (and realistically promotion back to the Premier League isn't going to improve his chances so I guess that - as Leeds fans - we're "hoping" that he moves on).
April 26: The reserves finished off the season with a 1-1 draw with Boro at Elland Road. Dan Harding, Simon Walton, Gylfi Einarsson, Danny Pugh, Steve Stone, Joel Griffiths and Jermaine Beckford all put in an appearance for Leeds. The goals came a couple of minutes either side of the hour mark, Boro opening the scoring and Johnny Howson equalising for Leeds. Joel Griffiths had a lively game, and Jermaine Beckford also got about a bit - but still failed to finish a couple of half-decent chances.
April 26: Thanks to several folks who emailed me about the aggro with the steward(s) on Saturday. Most accounts seem to concur that one particular steward dealt out a bit of summary "justice" to one of the pitch invaders when a couple of his colleagues had caught him. When the steward in question headed back towards the stand, he found himself confronted by quite a few fans who had seen what he'd done and were inquiring if he'd like the same done to him. The other stewards who had been doing their best to keep people off the pitch in a reasonable manner then had to deal with this problem, and the steward who had started the trouble vanished. Still no comment on the official site though....
April 26: Jon Woodgate says that he's backing his old team to make it up into the Premiership as the play-offs loom closer. Woodgate will be back in England for the next couple of months working on his recovery and hopes to get to the play-off games to support the team. He said: "The physio staff here have got me working from 9am until 6pm or 7pm at night, but I'd like to watch the play-off games. It'll be a great experience for everyone involved at the club. I hope I get to see them. I hope the club gets back to the Premier League. It would be great watching a club I love so much get promoted." Woodgate said that it was good to be back and see at least some of his former team-mates - Eirik Bakke, Gary Kelly and youngsters Frazer Richardson and Matthew Kilgallon - still at the club.
April 25: Steve Stone says he's itching to get into the team for the play-offs after being forced to watch from the sidelines for the whole season. He said: "I'll be pushing to play. I just need to get some minutes under my belt." Stone praised the support he had received from Kevin Blackwell: "The manager's been great. He's had to wait such a long time but he hasn't pushed me at any stage. It's me that's been in to see him but he's been trying to hold me back because he realises I've been out for such a long time."
April 25: The injury picked up by Danny Graham on Saturday has brought his loan spell at Elland Road to an end. Graham was drafted in on a one-month loan when injuries to most of the strike force and half the midfield left Kevin Blackwell with a very limited set of options, but the return to fitness of Steve Stone and Eirik Bakke, and the fact that Healy, Hulse and Blake are all managing to play through the pain meant that he didn't get much of a look-in, appearing as a sub twice - against Hull and Reading - and starting against Crewe.
April 25: Jonathan Woodgate is back with Leeds United! Well not quite...he's back from Spain on holiday, and physio Dave Hancock will be treating him and keeping an eye on his recovering leg injury while he catches up with some old friends. Hopefully not the same friends that he went clubbing with in Leeds all those years ago...
April 25: Kevin Blackwell has asked for more of the same old stuff from his team as the season gets to its most crucial point for the club. He said: "We have to keep plodding on and working hard - it's all about hard work and desire now." And he left his players in no doubt what was in it for them: "The option is either Southend and Brentford or Old Trafford and Anfield. I know where I want to be going next season - and I know where the players want to go as well." Too right Kev - Anfield and Old Trafford are old hat, and I've never been to Southend or Brentford before! Blackwell has yet to decide whether to go for a win and a psychological advantage over Preston on Sunday, or take a more restrained approach and rest some very tired legs. He said: "We'll sit down later this week, have a look where we are and make a decision then about how we are going to approach it."
April 23: Kevin Blackwell was happy that Steve Stone finally made his debut on Saturday after 8 months of hell on the treatment table. Blackwell said: "Steve Stone came on and straight away he showed the quality he's got. Stoney is nowhere near as fit as he needs to be but he's intelligent and he gets round the pitch so well. It's a good time for him to be showing us he can perform with the play-offs coming up." He went on: "Stoney has worked his socks off in the gym and comes in every morning to the gym at nine o'clock in the morning and stays until six to seven o'clock at night. The biggest factor about Stoney is his professionalism and desire to get fit because it has been a career-threatening injury - and many people would have called it quits after the career he's had." Blackwell was less complimentary about Eirik Bakke, complaining that the Norwegian had indicated he had a minor niggle and could play on - but as soon as Blackwell made his final substitution, Bakke more or less stopped running and the manager was less than pleased to see his team have to carry a passenger for the last 15 minutes.
April 23: At the end of Saturday's game, a small number of people invaded the pitch: not necessarily the smartest thing to do but by no means exceptional at the end of the season, either at Leeds or elsewhere. However the reaction of the stewards was exceptional: several were reported to have been seen punching and kicking the pitch invaders - or even people who were still in the stands who had protested at being threatened with ejection or worse if they did not sit down. Apparently there have been some arrests in connection with the incidents, but I've yet to see anything official from the club about this. If you saw anything, let me know.
April 23: Gary Kelly is the only player from Leeds named in the Championship team of the year, selected by fellow players for the PFA Award ceremony. Marlon King was also chosen - Watford's one-time Leeds loanee is the division's top scorer so no real surprise there.
April 23: With nothing more than home advantage in the play-offs left to decide, Sky have chosen to televise the game between Preston and Leeds on Sunday - probably the first of three such contests in a fortnight as the charge to Cardiff and a place in the Premiership sun commences.
April 22: Robbie Keane scored a controversial opener for Spurs as they gained an advantage over Arsenal at Highbury before a late and typically brilliant strike from Thierry Henry ensured that the last North London derby in the old stadium ended all square. Julian Joachim equalised for Boston at Bristol Rovers - but the home side struck twice in the last half hour to bag the points. Jamie Forrester ensured that Lincoln shared the points with Leyton Orient with a first-half equaliser. Andy Keogh put Scunthorpe in front at Rotherham - but the home side equalised late on.
April 21: David Healy is in no doubt that Leeds will win through the nervewracking play-offs at the end of the season. After 9 winless games, Healy says that the world is happy because they're all against us: "Nobody really wants to see Leeds do well, outside of the boys in the dressing room, the fans, and the people in the city. You go through a frustrating run and everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon and have a go. Leeds United is a massive club and people want us to fail and not get back in the Premier League." And although the failure to pick up three points is a habit the team needs to get out of, the fact remains that the last two games have seen Leeds unlucky not to beat both of the sides who have qualified for automatic promotion. Healy said: "We showed enough on Tuesday to prove that we are good enough. We got the least we deserved with a 1-1 draw. We were better the way we played in the second half - but the gaffer demands that from us... In the four games against the top two we haven't won - but we haven't lost either. We've drawn them all. We've proved our worth against those sides and that is a big thing going into the play-offs."
April 21: Everton boss David Moyes says he's hoping that former Leeds hero Nigel Martyn will be able to sign a new contract for next season - despite coming up to his 40th birthday (hey - mine's on Saturday week - 40's not that old!) and despite missing the back end of this season with an ankle injury. Martyn has been under the knife to sort out the ankle problem, and if he can prove his fitness then a new deal will be on offer when Everton review their squad in the summer.
April 20: The reserves had a large number of fringe first-teamers in their line-up tonight but could only manage a goal-less draw with Everton. Steve Stone started his first match in 50 years and lasted 70 minutes: maybe he will make it back after all! Dan Harding, Simon Walton, Gylfi Einarsson, Jermaine Beckford and Joel Griffiths were the "names" on show, and Beckford had the best chances but never did enough to clinch the points.
April 20: Tickets for the play-off semi-finals are now on sale, with Season Ticket holders having until Wednesday 26 April to claim a ticket for the home leg. Away leg tickets will be offered to Away Season Ticket holders first, then Home Season Ticket holders in order of receipt of their request - so don't hold your breath if you've not already stuck your order in. Applications can be made online via the official website, fax on 0113 367 6055 or by post.
April 20: Kevin Blackwell says that planning will be the key to winning the play-offs - and he's already watching all three possible opponents. He said: "Planning is everything and it is crucial we get things right towards the play-offs. We'll effectively be going into a training camp and we will plan carefully. We're already checking on every team. I want to know what they had for breakfast and who the players are seeing behind their missus' back!" Blackwell might use the Crewe game to experiment - and even next week's trip to Preston might see a radically altered Leeds side given the likelihood of facing the same opponents twice more in the next week.
April 19: Leeds United Ladies will be taking a leaf out of the men's 1972 Cup winners' book when they face Arsenal Ladies in the FA Women's Cup Final on May 1 - they'll be wearing sock tags! Captain Natalie Preston said "Anything that gives us an edge or extra bit of luck in the final is gratefully received. If the sock tags gave the 1972 team the extra luck they needed then I hope they will do the same thing for us." She went on: "We know it will be a very tough game, but it's a one-off game in the cup final and we have enough quality players in the squad to go down there and cause an upset, we want to bring the trophy back to Leeds just like the Leeds United team of 1972." The game will be played at the New Den - so if your Mayday weekend is looking a bit quiet, get on down there and cheer the Ladies on!
April 19: Les Rowley - author of the excellent "Where Are They Now" book - has a new volume released this weekend. "Heaven XI" features all the Leeds teams you'd have loved to have seen run out at Elland Road, but who never did. There's a Publicans' XI, One-Goal Wonders XI (presumably with Paul Robinson in goal) and a Tattoo XI to name but three. The official launch is in the club shop on Saturday at 1230 - but you can buy it online (and for a quid cheaper!) here.
April 18: JFH continued his excellent run of recent form with the opener for Boro in last night's 2-0 win over West Ham. Michael Bridges brought Carlisle back level with Notts County and then added a late winner to leave his side five points clear at the top - and just two points off guaranteed promotion. Jamie Forrester struck twice for Lincoln at slumping Wycombe, closing the gap on the home side - and a play-off place - to just two points with a 0-3 win, and Lincoln boss Keith Alexander wants the striker to make a permanent switch to Sincil Bank. Brett Ormerod scored Preston's second in a win over Wolves that pushes Leeds down to fifth in the table. Danny Cadamarteri got a goal back for Bradford at Gillingham but couldn't save them from a 2-1 defeat. Darren Huckerby sparked a second-half comeback for Norwich, scoring their first as they turned a 0-2 deficit into a 3-2 win.
April 18: Kevin Blackwell says that he wants Eirik Bakke to continue delivering the sort of performance he produced for the game against Reading. Bakke had come in for some sly criticism from the manager in recent weeks, with hints being dropped over his lack of fitness and commitment, but Saturday's game saw something like the "real" Bakke in action. Blackwell said: "He went box-to-box and got his tackles in, he defended, he looked good on the ball and I was delighted with him. If he keeps playing like that he'll make it difficult for others to come back in and that's what we want, competition. I want to see good energy and Eirik putting people under pressure, and forcing errors. I want things from him that are right and he showed that on Saturday."
April 18: Several thousand Leeds fans were expecting a fairly glum night at Bramall Lane, but as it turned out things didn't go too badly. With the stadium packed to the rafters with bragging Blades fans, cheering their promotion to the Premier League, expectations weren't that high from the visitors, particularly given the recent slump in form alongside the fact that Bramall Lane has been a bit of a jinxed arena for Leeds in recent years. Eirik Bakke's superb nearpost header after ten minutes was unfortunately made at the wrong end of the park: Leeds were a goal down and the inevitable defeat loomed. But for once the derby atmosphere seemed to motivate the team, tackles flew in and David Healy pulled off a cracking shot just before half-time to level the scores. Meanwhile our old friend "Colin" Warnock had hyped himself up to his usual level, and when he saw a tough Gary Kelly challenge leave one of his players on the deck, he had words with the fourth official. The man in the middle was our old friend Graham Poll, and needless to say he didn't take much time to consider his options before telling Warnock he would be watching the remainder of the game from the stands. Warnock didn't take kindly to this and had to be pulled away by the police - I'm sure the FA will be viewing the footage with interest, and with another charge due to be heard in Soho Square shortly, the Blades boss could easily find that he doesn't get to experience a Premier League dugout until next season is several weeks old. The second half saw more fierce tackles fly in, and Liam Miller required Paddy Kenny to make a good save to keep things even - but a draw was a fair result.
April 17: Leeds are set to drag former Academy directory Gary Worthington into court after he switched to Chelsea and took two of the most promising youngsters with him. Leeds are claiming that Worthington failed to honour part of his severance deal by approaching Tom Taiwon and Michael Woods - among others - with offers of a place at Stamford Bridge. Ken Bates said: "As part of his pay off he undertook not to approach any of our players, parents or families for a period of five years. We believe that Worthington has breached that undertaking and we will be seeking substantial damages."
April 16: Kevin Blackwell echoed the words of a famous song today when he looked back over the season and expressed some satisfaction over the fact that a play-off place had been guaranteed - and that Reading had been given a stern test. He said: "Reading are the best side in this league by a country mile and they played their strongest team because they felt it would be a good test for next season. If it wasn't for the linesman we would have fared better result-wise, but I said thank you to the lads afterwards. We're back." And he added: "We've had ups and downs. We haven't got carried away by the ups and we haven't got carried away by the downs... We were four minutes away from a fabulous result, but I'd like to thank everyone for what they did on Saturday. The only disappointment was their goal. It was an injury to a bit of pride."
April 15: Old boys in action in the first batch of Easter games included Robbie Keane, cooly converting the penalty he won at Everton to keep Spurs in the Champions League hunt. On Friday night, Marlon King and improved his position at the top of the scoring charts with an equaliser for Watford at Wolves - but he then blotted his copybook by picking up a red card for violent conduct with 5 minutes to go. Stephen McPhail had an open goal to aim for (and succeeded) as Barnsley got back into some sort of form with a 0-3 win at Oldham. Tony Hackworth was the star of the show for Scarborough in their 3-0 win over Burton: his header was saved by a defender's hand leading to a penalty to open the scoring, he scored himself from 20 yards to make it 2-0, and he set up the final goal with a cross for Michael Coulson to finish.
April 15: Kevin Blackwell praised his former team Sheffield United after seeing Leeds blow a 1-0 lead with barely 5 minutes to go. Stephen Hunt's late equaliser - plus Watford's failure to win on Friday guarantees promotion for the Blades. Blackwell said: "I just want to congratulate Sheffield United on a fantastic achievement. Neil and the boys deserve all the credit. To get promoted over the course of the season is no mean achievement but we've pushed them all the way. Many of you thought that it was a two-horse race at Christmas but we pulled them in and really worked hard to try to rein them in. With the lead they had it should have probably been all over a couple of months ago but we made sure it was a wide-open race. But now that they're up, I just want to congratulate them and I'll have a drink with Neil when we go down there on Tuesday." It will indeed be a bitter pill for many Leeds fans to swallow on Tuesday night - but no doubt there will be some consolation in the knowledge that they may be going up - but they'll soon be back down.
April 14: To coincide with the FA Cup's 125th season, the FA are running a competition to nominate a "Team of Heroes". For keeper, vote for Nigel Martyn - for his Palace days (anyone but Montgomery), Dennis Irwin is nominated for his ManU time as is Eric Cantona. Billy Bremner and Allan Clarke are the main "real" Leeds names in the running. Vote here.
April 14: Gary Kelly, Stephen Crainey, Paul Butler and Danny Graham are all serious doubts for tomorrow with the virus that has done the rounds of the dressing room. Sean Gregan, Frazer Richardson and Shaun Derry all have more mundane injuries, and boss Kevin Blackwell faces a dilemma as to whether to rest them now given that a play-off place is assured, and Sheffield United are all but over the automatic promotion line following today's victory in Cardiff.
April 13: To the surprise of nobody at all, the latest instalment of the retrial of Ali Umit Demir was postponed yesterday. The latest excuse from the farcical proceedings is that the lab that is processing the murder weapon was too busy moving premises to do the required tests. That's six years on and still no resolution....
April 13: Steve Stone played for the last 35 minutes in last night's 1-1 draw with Sunderland reserves. The midfielder finally seems to be over the Achilles problem he sustained in pre-season training. Dan Harding, Joel Griffiths and Jermaine Beckford joined Ian Bennett as the first team names in the side. Beckford scored early on for Leeds, and ex-Leeds youngster Martin Woods got the equaliser from a free-kick.
April 13: Kevin Blackwell has received written threats from supposed Leeds fans following the recent slump in form. The manager has never been popular with a certain section of the crowd, and the failure to dominate the division has been augmented by the poor form in the last few matches to crank up the general level of antipathy. Blackwell said: "When I get threats as to my well being you have to wonder why people do the job sometimes, but all I know is I am very proud to manage this football club. I told the players that I brought here what was to be expected and how hard it was to appease the expectations here. There's a history we have to carry and it's a heavy burden for players to carry but I think they have done it fantastically well this season. I said to people there would be a lot of twists and turns before the end of the season and that has proved to be the case, and equally the chairman and myself will not put this football club in jeopardy chasing the dream trying to get back in the Premiership. It is a realistic dream we can achieve but I will not wake up to the nightmare of spending a fortune and not getting there. If people want me to chase dreams then I am not the right man for the football club because I am going to put the club back in the right manner and in the right time at the right price. At the end of the day I will be able to walk away knowing there is still a Leeds United here, many people walked away not having a clue whether there would still be a club or if they really cared - well I really care." The board issued a statement backing the manager and condemning the threats.
April 12: Steve Stone will finally pull on a Leeds shirt for a - vaguely - competitive match: the midfielder is expected to take his place in the reserves side tonight for their game against Sunderland. Kevin Blackwell said: "All things permitting he will play for half-an-hour at Sunderland just to get the feel of things again, He's got through the training to a level where it's now possible for him to play a game. Providing there are no problems, Stoney will step things up again after tomorrow and we'll look to get him 45 minutes next week."
April 11: One-time Leeds youngster Sean McDaid has been given a two-year deal by Doncaster Rovers after impressing throughout this season. Boss Dave Penney was keen to secure his services, and McDaid said: "It's taken a while but we both wanted me to stay so I'm delighted. When I moved from Leeds I had to prove a few people wrong and it's benefited me coming down here."
April 10: Jonathan Douglas will be allowed to stay at Elland Road until the end of the play-offs. His loan spell was due to expire sooner, but Blackburn now say he can stay until the season is over.
April 08: Leeds secured a play-off place with a goalless draw at home to Plymouth - but many fans were not impressed and chants of "Premier League - you're having a laugh" came from the Kop as the game ebbed away. Kevin Blackwell was upbeat about the result and refused to rule out automatic promotion. He said: "I can't give up on second because it's still possible and there are four games left - we still have a chance of automatic promotion. The lads worked their socks off today and I want to praise them because they've assured themselves of a play-off place with four games to go. It's a great achievement for Leeds to be third at this stage of the season - and the lads got booed off - but I can understand the fans' frustrations." Blackwell insisted his team were unlucky not to take all three points: "We dominated Plymouth from start to finish, and they tried to waste time from the first minute to the last. We have created a lot more today than we have in recent games, and David Healy has been unfortunate after hitting the post and then seeing the ball come out. Even at the end their keeper made a great save and Rob Hulse had a great chance. It's just one of those things." However Tony Pulis reckoned that he was unlucky to only leave Leeds with a draw after Liam Miller brought down David Norris perilously close to the box: "I thought it was a stonewall penalty at the end when Miller fouled Norris. It was two yards inside the box and that's happened to us three times in three weeks now. It happened against Wolves and Preston as well."
April 07: Mark Viduka bagged a European brace last night, and JFH added another as Boro overturned a 0-2 first-leg deficit - and an early away goal to add to their pain - to pull off a stunning 4-1 win over FC Basle and qualify for the semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. They now face Steaua Bucharest, with Schalke 04 and Sevilla contesting the other semi.
April 07: Leeds boss Kevin Blackwell says that his strikers will have to hit form at some point - and it could be tomorrow! Speaking to the official website he said: "We've been unfortunate, we have had enough possession but we just haven't been bright enough in the last third. We have been working on that. With the strikers I have got I know they can't go on forever not scoring goals... it's just frustrating that it hasn't happened in the last three weeks when it could have made things more interesting." And Blackwell says that he's not downbeat over the prospect of having to use the play-offs to go up: "We sat down at the beginning of the season, players and management, and talked about what we wanted to achieve and we all said promotion. Now we have had to accept that that promotion may have to come through the play-offs, but we haven't got where we are because we don't plan or focus well, we do all that very well which is why we are one of the hardest teams to beat."
April 07: Jonathan Woodgate continues to be dogged by injury and misfortune as his Real Madrid career looks like it will take another few months to really get underway. Woodgate broke down against Arsenal in the Champions League after looking as if he was getting into the sort of form that could claim a World Cup place this summer. Now he faces a summer of rest or operations and recuperation. Real boss Juan Lopez Caro said: "I know the medical team are doing a lot of tests on him and looking at different options and they'll choose the best one." Whatever happens, he's unlikely to play again this season, so it looks as if he'll have to hope he's still in contention in 2010.
April 06: A mixture of youth and experience saw the reserves home to a 3-1 win over West Brom last night. Dan Harding, Simon Walton, Eirik Bakke, Joel Griffiths, Ian Moore and Danny Pugh provided a first-team backbone, but it was two goals from second-half sub Jonathan Howson that did the bulk of the damage for Leeds. Nick Gray opened the scoring in the first half but let the visitors back into the game almost immediately. The 18-year-old Howson produced a great lob from distance to restore Leeds' advantage in the second half, and followed that up with a good finish after latching onto a pass from Joel Griffiths. With 10 minutes to go, Griffiths was felled inside the box, but Howson failed to complete his hat-trick from the spot thanks to a good save from the Baggies' 16-year-old keeper John Bateman.
April 06: Richard Cresswell remains optimistic about his ability to make a further contribution to the promotion push this season. He's recovering well from his op and is now back on the long slope leading to recovery - hopefully before the play-off finals. Cresswell said: "The crutches have gone and I'm hoping to start doing some work in the pool before the end of the week. I'm still a bit sore and I'm not going to build my hopes up about when I could be back. It's got to be right because it was a big operation and we'll see how things go over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully my knee won't react and we'll take things step by step."
April 06: Mel Sterland says that the current squad can repeat what Howard Wilkinson's side did back in 1990 - but they need some self-belief and a bit of luck. After topping the table since before Christmas, Wilko's team had a wobble in the run-in, with a 4-0 hammering of Sheffield United a bright spot but a home defeat by Barnsley the pits. Speaking to the YEP Sterland said: "That game against Barnsley was awful. We knew after that we'd have to win our last two and mentally we were knackered - but that's where the management came in." He added: "Wilko was superb with us and that's what made all the difference." Looking at the current squad and their attempt to get back into the top flight, he said: "They have to believe in themselves. Believe in each other and believe in the manager. If they perform as they can they are capable, and Sheffield United will slip up again... If Leeds win on Saturday and Sheffield United lose it's well on and Leeds have to go there - it's far from over yet."
April 06: Kevin Blackwell has indicated that there may be some enforced changes for Saturday's game against Plymouth after the virus that laid Gylfi Einarsson low struck other members of the first team squad. Blackwell is keeping his cards close to his chest, but could lose three or even more players if they don't show some signs of improvement. Blackwell was also looking for team changes for tactical reasons. He said: "I'm not prepared to say what I am going to do but I have looked at where we can change things if necessary. We are just lacking that little something in front of goal at the moment, and by that I don't just mean the strikers, I'm looking at midfield and defence too."
April 05: Eirik Bakke says that his absence from the Leeds line-up is now purely the choice of manager Kevin Blackwell. Bakke's injury problems have been well-documented, but he says he's now over his latest hamstring injury and is raring to go and make a contribution to Leeds' promotion push. Speaking to the official website, he said: "This season has been mainly out rather than in and out. I do not know why that is the case, that's probably best for the manager to answer. I get a lot of questions from supporters asking me why I'm not playing and it's hard to answer them, but I'll work hard and wait for my chance. But if I can get back in the team and help us to go up that would make up for the frustration - I want the best for the club and that's getting back in the Premiership."
April 05: It was six years ago today (Wednesday) that two Leeds fans - Kevin Speight and Chris Loftus - were murdered in Istanbul. A lot has happened to Leeds since then, and although the current board would probably stare blankly at anyone mentioning their names, the fans will never forget what happened that night. RIP lads - let's hope we finally see the end of the trial and see the killer sentenced soon.
April 04: Tomorrow's reserve game against West Brom will now be played at Elland Road rather than South Leeds stadium due to the usual venue being waterlogged and deemed unplayable. Pah! They don't know they're born: unless the puddle in the goalmouth is saving more shots than the keeper you just play through it!
April 04: Ref Clive Oliver has been hauled over the coals by the Professional Game Match Officials organisation for allowing Kevin Blackwell to talk to him at half time at Coventry. Micky Adams was far from happy, and reckoned that the pressure that Blackwell had applied to the official contributed to the late penalty which secured a draw for Leeds. The PGMO described Oliver's actions as "naive and ill-considered".
April 03: Kevin Blackwell says that courage is now needed to keep up the chase for second spot in the table, despite the seemingly insurmountable odds. He says: "If we are going to go into the play-offs we want to be going into them as positively as we can. We are disappointed at the moment, but we keep moving on and there is still a lot to play for. If you are going to go on and do anything, you have to be able to take a kicking - or else it shows you have no courage. We have to keep our heads because the most important part of the season is coming up."
April 02: Lee Bowyer put Newcastle in front after barely a minute's action at St James Park on Saturday, but Robbie Keane equalised for Spurs, latching on to Aaron Lennon's cross. Surprisingly, Newcastle overcame that setback with two goals in five minutes and then held out for the points after Spurs were rediced to 10 men. John Oster scored one of Reading's five unanswered goals as the Championship leaders dismantled Derby. Jamie Forrester scored a consolation goal for Lincoln as their promotion hopes took a knock with a 4-2 defeat at Darlington. Noel Whelan headed home to give all-but-relegated Livinsgton brief hope against Motherwell, but the home side rallied and took the game with a last-minute winner.
April 02: Striker Rob Hulse reckons the manager is being a bit harsh by blaming the recent run of poor form on the forwards. He said: "I felt a bit aggrieved that the finger was pointed at me and I was perhaps accused of not giving my all and shirking - that is not in my nature. If the chances do not come, there is not much I can do. The chances came at Hull, but when they fell they were missed. That is the way it goes sometimes. But there is no point in pointing the finger at anyone; we are a team and we will do it all together. I see that as the only way to move forward. The most important thing is we stay as a unit and all stay together, which we are. We do not want to go pointing the finger." Ouch. Disunity is not a great thing to be putting on public view now - even if we miss out on automatic promotion, the play-offs need to be approached in the right frame of mind.
April 01: Kevin Blackwell said that automatic promotion was now almost out of the question - but said that his team would not give up trying for it. After the third goalless game in a row and the fifth since a win (two of which required late equalisers), Blackwell pointed the finger at the strikers: "I've got a lot of assessing to do between now and next week. I can't fault the effort and when we knocked the ball around we looked a good side. But for all the good positions we got ourselves into we kept either firing blanks or lacking imagination." He added: "It is now a severe hurdle but we can't give it up because it is still a surmountable figure. If we are going to do it we are going to have to do it the hard way." Peter Taylor was happy that the win gave his side a chance of staying up: "We've given ourselves a right chance and I can't see us not getting two or three more points with only five games to go. I think we deserved to win. It was a cracking local derby - a local derby for us anyway - between two very committed teams. I think the players knew with the coverage how much this game means to our supporters. It also means a lot to us and I thought the tempo right from the start was first class. We were very committed and we had to be against a team like Leeds."
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