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Leeds United News from The Sporting Life    Yorkshire Evening Post


February 28: Jermaine Beckford returned from suspension to score twice as Leeds nearly managed to shoot themselves in the foot this afternoon. Beckford got on the end of a Jonny Howson cross just past the half hour mark to put Leeds in front, and Bradley Johnson shot was deflected to double the advantage five minutes later. A bit of poor communication between Casper Ankergren and Ben Parker allowed Gary Hooper to pull one back for the visitors before the interval, and 7 minutes into the second period the same player benefited from unconvincing clearance attempts by Rui Marques and Parker to level the match. Jermaine Beckford rode in to the rescue as he latched on to a ball from Robert Snodgrass to make it 3-2 on 67 minutes. Jonny Howson then picked up a second yellow card - so he misses Monday night's televised game at Oldham. Simon Grayson withdrew Lee Trundle - who had only been on as a sub for 30 minutes himself - to bring on Lubo Michalik to help safeguard the points for the last 10 minutes, but as it was Beckford nearly bagged a hat-trick in injury time. So that's two wins in a row, and we're now back in the play-off zone and face a fantastic opportunity on Monday: Oldham's late win over Millwall today means that victory at Boundary Park would see us in 4th spot and only three points adrift of Peterborough in 3rd. I know, I know, unhatched chicken counter is being put back in the cupboard....

February 23: The deal to bring in Derby's Liam Dickinson remains on hold after the striker picked up an injury. Paperwork to sign the former Stockport forward - who spent time at Blackpool, hence Simon Grayson's interest - missed the transfer window deadline by minutes, but he was expected to ink the loan deal this week before this new setback.

February 23: Former Newcastle, ManU, Blackburn and more recently Sheffield United winger Keith Gillespie has failed in his attempt to convince Simon Grayson he's worth a contract after a two-week trial. The Northern Ireland international has been without a club since being released by Kevin Blackwell at the end of January, but Grayson obviously feels we've enough or better quality in that department. Meanwhile Aussie centreback Nikolai Topor-Stanley has returned to Newcastle Jets after an equally unsuccessful stint at Thorp Arch.

February 21: With the mighty Cheltenham hammered into the ground (ok, scraped past with a 2-0 win...) Simon Grayson reckons we've turned the corner and are on for a good run into a playoff place. He said: "I'd rather be a point off the top-six than half a dozen away - we have given ourselves a chance again. There were a few broken hearts and egos after the Hereford game, but a few got boosted on Saturday. Now we're working towards Scunthorpe and Oldham." Let's hope he's right: a home win over Scunthorpe is essential, and we've got to sort out our appalling form away from Elland Road if we are to have any hope of promotion this season.

February 17: On-loan left-back Carl Dickinson will return to Stoke after Tuesday's game at Hereford. Simon Grayson said: "That's what happens with loan players, but we're delighted with what he's done. He's helped us keep clean sheets and he really wants to play in the Premiership, which he is entitled to." His Stoke counterpart Tony Pulis said: "He's done very well over the past month according to the reports we've been getting. We're grateful to Leeds for giving him that chance, but now we think it's the right time to bring him back here. Carl is very much a part of the future of this club and we want to get him involved again."

February 17: Leeds were well-beaten by relegation-threatened Hereford at Edgar Street tonight. Our struggling hosts went a goal up just before half-time and doubled their advantage just past the hour - but without Jermaine Beckford, Leeds were toothless and couldn't even take advantage from the penalty spot when Lee Trundle fluffed it from 12 yards after a foul on Andy Robinson had given the visitors some hope. So now we're back down in 8th spot, having played more games than 2 of our 7 closest play-off rivals, and with a worse goal difference than 4 of them. With 15 games to go, a crack at the play-offs should just about be in our own hands, but we can't afford any more slip-ups like the last two matches, and need to come back with a bang against bottom club Cheltenham at the weekend.

February 14: Conceding a stupid goal from a setpiece and failing to turn good footbal into goals. That was the problem which lead to Gary McAllister's departure and today's performance at Huddersfield indicates little has changed in the subsequent months. Nathan Clarke had a relatively unhindered attempt at goal and that was that: Becchio, Snodgrass and Trundle failed to fill the Beckford-shaped hole with goals, and when newboy Mike Grella was added to the mix, the Huddersfield keeper proved to be up to the task. Defeat is not the end of the world: we're only 5 points off third spot, and although it looks like games are running out to overcome a 12-point plus goals gap to make second and more teams are closing in from mid-table mediocrity, Simon Grayson should still be able to deliver a decent set of results in the next 3 months. But they need to start coming real soon!

February 13: The FA have once again outdone themselves in the one-rule-for-all-bar-Leeds game. There's no doubt that Jermaine Beckford's elbow on the Millwall keeper was worth slightly more than the yellow card it received, but the tablets of stone from FIFA are clear: an incident "dealt with" by the ref on the field of play cannot be taken further after the game. This has recently seen some appalling tackles go relatively unpunished after being deemed worthy of no more than a free kick by the match ref. But Alan Wiley has decided that the yellow card he issued to Beckford was for another offence, so the FA have jumped at the chance to issue a three-match ban that will keep Beckford out starting with the local derby against Huddersfield. Beckford said: "I would like to apologise to my team-mates and to the fans for this, that I will now miss a number of games." Leeds CEO Shaun Harvey bemoaned the fact that the only reason the ban had come about was because the match was on live TV. To his credit he didn't complain about the fact that Andy Robinson's jaw was also nearly broken by a Millwall player in another incident which has yet to exercise the cloudy vision and dubious judgement of Mr Wiley. Which is good, because it gives me something to gripe about...

February 11: Derby striker Liam Dickinson may have missed out on a move to Elland Road when the transfer window closed 14 minutes before his documents arrived, but he could be pulling on a Leeds shirt in a little over a week. Derby boss Nigel Clough doesn't see him gaining a place in the side and is prepared to let him go on loan, and said: "He can go for a maximum of 93 days and I think Leeds want him for the play-off final should they reach it. Working back from there I think he can start on 21 February so it should all get sorted this week."

February 09: Jermaine Beckford scored two goals as Leeds closed the gap on the play-off places with a 2-0 win over Millwall. But Beckford's elbow in the face of the Millwall keeper was more controversial, and he was lucky that it only resulted in a yellow card. Millwall had the most clear-cut of the early chances, and Richard Naylor had to clear the ball from almost behind the line after a goalmouth scramble. Beckford opened the scoring just past the half-hour mark when he collected the ball outside the box, cut inside a defender to make space and curled a great shot into the top corner. Millwall had a dead cert penalty turned down when Rui Marques struggled to be first to the ball after a defensive screw-up. Arguably the ball would have gone out of play before the Millwall striker could have reached it - but the ref and his assistant missed a fairly blatant trip and Elland Road breathed again. At the start of injury time Beckford sealed the points, making no mistake from inside the box after sub Luciano Becchio produced a great flick from a long ball. So - the gap on a playoff spot closes to 2 points - although automatic promotion remains a distant hope with 9 points to be made up in 17 remaining games.

February 09: Lee Trundle will stay at Elland Road until at least 10 March. The 32-year-old striker has been a regular in the side since his arrival in January, and the extended loan spell should make him available for 7 games.

February 02: To no great surprise to readers of this news service, the mystery coach lined up by Simon Grayson has been revealed as Glynn Snodin. Although youngerer brother Ian will be remembered as a better player (albeit limited by injuries), Leeds fans always appreciated Glynn's commitment in his time under Billy Bremner and then as part of Wilko's promotion-winning squad. Glynn continued to figure in Wilko's first Division 1 season, but spent much of the title-winning season out on loan. He's had spells on the coaching staff of Doncaster under brother Ian, as reserve team boss at Charlton under Alan Curbishley, with George Burley at Southampton and most recently at West Ham again with Curbishley. He was also appointed as assistant to Northern Ireland boss (and fellow ex-Leeds-left-back) Nigel Worthington in 2007.

February 02: After someone scooped up half the Arctic and dumped it on the south of the country today, Tuesday's game at Leyton Orient has been cancelled after it emerged that most of their soft southern support had sold off their thermals "because of global warming" and so were worried they might catch a chill if they were forced to stand outside and watch a game of football for 90 minutes. And they knew they'd be on the losing end of a snowball fight when the travelling Leeds fans turned up. Eeee...in my day....

February 02: Mike Grella has been rewarded with an 18-month contract after a successful trial with Leeds which saw him score a hat-trick in a reserve game. And Richard Naylor's loan move has been made permanent after Leeds and Ipswich agreed on a free transfer for the Leeds-born player.

February 02: Paul Telfer has had his contract cancelled by mutual consent after making 18 appearances under Gary McAllister since signing a one-year deal in August. Scott Gardner has also had his contract cancelled - and he's signed up with Mansfield.

February 02: Deadline day saw the return of Olivier Dacourt to England, signing for Fulham on loan from Internazionale until the end of the season. Well, rather glad they signed a former Leeds midfielder beginning with a D than a current one... Robbie Keane returned to Spurs - for 8 million quid less than Liverpool paid for him 6 months ago. I knew house prices were falling fast, but at that rate, my local side Spilsby Town will probably be able to afford to put in a bid for him in the summer. Michael Gray switches from Wolves to Sheffield Wednesday on a free after a succesful loan spell at Hillsborough.

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