Since Leeds United relegation from the English Premier League in 2004 the club has had its fair share of ups and downs. The current squad currently on a 7 game winless run and alarming now find themselves flirting with relegation this season. So in an attempt to pick up the fans spirits Ryan Parrish looks at the second part of the clubs top 10 moments since the 2004 football league campaign.
5. Southampton 3-4 Leeds United, St Mary’s, 19th November 2005.
When Kevin Blackwell’s promotion chasing Leeds found themselves 3-0 down at half-time to Southampton, the travelling fans could be forgiven for contemplating heading to the exits with 45 minutes still to play. No doubt there will have been a few who decided they had seen enough when the half-time whistle went, but those who stayed witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in Leeds United’s recent history. A first half goal from Marian Pahars and a Nigel Quashie double had seemingly given Harry Redknapp’s side a comfortable lead at the break and it looked like it was just going to be one of those days for the Whites. After a dressing down, Leeds came out a different side after the interval but time was against them. With Blackwell’s men still trailing 3-0 with just 23 minutes to go, he decided to give it one last throw of the dice, replacing right back Frazer Richardson with Northern Ireland striker David Healy. Something immediately clicked and within minutes, Leeds were back in the game thanks to a Paul Butler header. Robbie Blake pulled back a second shortly after and with 13 minutes still on the clock, there was a real sense of belief that Leeds could take something from this game. The confident Redknapp had used all of his three substitutions at half-time and unable to alter the tide of the game, he watched in disbelief as the Leeds onslaught continued with Healy dispatching a penalty to draw things level. There was still six minutes plus injury time to be played and Leeds had the momentum. The attacks continued and just two minutes after the equaliser, a sweet strike from on-loan midfielder Liam Miller put United in front, sparking mayhem in the away end and sealing a victory which will live long in the memory.
Starting line-up: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Harding, Richardson (Healy), Derry, Miller, Lewis, Hulse, Blake. Unused: Pugh, Bennett, Walton, Douglas.
Did you know? The Southampton starting line-up featured a 16-year old Theo Walcott. It also included former Chelsea midfielder Dennis Wise who went on to manage the Whites less than two years later.
4. Carlisle United 0-2 Leeds United, Brunton Park, 15th May 2008.
The 2007/08 season will live long in the memories of Leeds United fans for a number of reasons. The Whites had faced an uphill battle all year having being handed a 15-point deduction before a ball had even been kicked. But under the guidance of Dennis Wise and Gus Poyet they continued to defy the odds and it looked as if an instant return to the Championship was on the cards. Despite the dip in form that followed the duo’s departure and the appointment of Gary McCallister midway through the season, United still managed to clinch a top-six finish. After a disappointing performance in the play-off semi-final first leg, a late Dougie Freedman strike to make it 2-1 had given Leeds a glimmer of hope for when they travelled to Carlisle for the return game less than a week later. Leeds had the best away record in the division and they knew that winning the game by any more than one goal would send them to Wembley. From kick-off the Whites looked focused on the task at hand and they got off to the perfect start when local lad Jonny Howson fired them in front inside the opening ten minutes. What followed was a nervy eighty or so minutes, with both sides playing it cautious, not wanting to over commit and find themselves caught out on the break. The game looked destined for extra-time, something the Leeds fans would have jumped at before the game, but with just seconds left on the clock and United on the attack, Freedman laid the ball off to Howson. The 19-year old was striding forward with intent and he calmly swept the ball into the bottom corner past the impressive Keiren Westwood in the Carlisle net, sending Leeds to the play-off final. The home crowd was stunned into silence and the Leeds fans couldn’t quite believe it either. From being 2-0 down at one point in the tie, they were heading to Wembley, thanks to two goals from one of their own.
Starting line-up: Ankergren, Richardson, Huntington, Michalik, Johnson, Kilkenny, Howson, Douglas, Prutton, Beckford, Freedman. Unused: Lucas, Marques, Carole, Kandol, Hughes.
Did you know? Prior to the game, Carlisle had won 17 of their 23 home games that season. A record only matched by Premier League champions Manchester United.
3. Reaching zero: Leeds United 2-0 Hartlepool United, Elland Road, 8th September 2007.
The sight of the Leeds squad engaging in a post-match huddle was becoming a trademark of the start of the 2007/08 season, but the one which followed the 2-0 win at home to Hartlepool was the most poignant of the lot. From the opening day victory at Tranmere, the 15-point deduction seemed to invigorate Leeds when it seemed like everything was against them. Having won their opening four games of the season, Dennis Wise’s side had the opportunity to reach zero points after just five games, when they faced Hartlepool at Elland Road. The game itself wasn’t a particularly memorable one, with goals from Tresor Kandol and Jermaine Beckford sealing a 2-0 win, but there was no doubting the magnitude of the occasion. The players celebrated on the pitch like they had just won promotion and in the stands it felt like a victory over the rest of the Football League, those who had voted to impose the 15-point deduction, after all, it was the fans who were made to suffer. Leeds were on the March though, and a thirteen game unbeaten run saw them climb the table at a rapid pace, putting themselves amongst the promotion contenders and flirting with the top two. The result against Hartlepool wasn’t one of the most important in the Whites’ recent history, in fact a lot of Leeds fans would probably struggle to recall the opponents that day, but the significance of it is not to be underestimated. This was a special moment for Leeds United and a marker in their history that showed that this club would never die.
Starting line-up: Ankergren, Richardson, Heath, Marques, Clapham, Prutton, Howson (Huntington), Hughes, Carole (Westlake), Kandol, Beckford. Unused: Bayly, Parker, Ameobi.
Did you know? The fifth straight win meant it was Leeds’ best league start since 1973.
2. Manchester United 0-1 Leeds United, Old Trafford, 3rd January 2010.
The rivalry between Leeds United and Manchester United needs no introduction. After a humiliating televised 1-1 draw away to Kettering in the previous round, the winner of the Elland Road replay would travel to Old Trafford to face the English champions, Manchester United. Leeds needed extra-time to see off their non-league opponents, but a date had been set, January 3rd, for their first meeting in six years against their old rivals. With League One promotion on the cards, Leeds were flying and full of confidence, but so were Sir Alex Ferguson’s side in the Premier League and the Leeds fans feared they could be in for an afternoon of embarrassment in a game where such pride is at stake. After a few nervy exchanges in the opening stages of the game, those fears were laid to rest for the time being when Jermaine Beckford raced onto the end of a Jonny Howson long ball to put Leeds ahead in front of the Stretford End, much to the delight of the 9,000 travelling fans. In the second half it required the goalkeeping heroics of Casper Ankergren, as well as a goal line clearance from Jason Crowe to keep the Whites in front, but Leeds held their own and they had a number of chances to double their lead. Beckford almost added his second and Robert Snodgrass struck the bar with a free-kick as Simon Grayson’s side earned a historic win. There was no questioning that Leeds were the better team over the 90 minutes, with the likes of Beckford and Howson both putting in performances which put them in good stead for their future Premier League moves. Over three years on, Leeds fans still sing about the result today and rightly so. A League One team going to the Champions of England and getting a win is one thing, but when it’s against your bitterest rivals, it feels so much sweeter.
Starting line-up: Ankergren, Crowe, Naylor, Kisnorbo, Hughes (White), Howson (Snodgrass), Doyle, Kilkenny, Johnson, Beckford, Becchio (Michalik). Unused: Martin, Capaldi, Prutton, Grella.
Did you know? It was the first time Manchester United had been knocked out of the FA Cup in the third round and the first time they had been knocked out by a side in a lower division under Sir Alex Ferguson’s management.
1. Leeds United 2-1 Bristol Rovers, Elland Road, 8th May 2010.
It was just so typical of Leeds United to leave it until the last day of the season to seal promotion to League One. Despite seemingly coasting to a top-two finish before the turn of the year, a dip in form hampered by an FA Cup run left the Whites with it all to do and over 38,000 packed inside Elland Road for one of their biggest games in recent years. It should have been straight forward, but when Max Gradel was dismissed on the half hour mark, it became an uphill struggle. Minutes into the second half, Darryl Duffy poked the visitors into the lead after a mix-up in defence and an all too familiar air of desperation filled Elland Road, the prospect of another season of League One football hardly whetting the appetite of the home fans. Jonny Howson was brought on to try and help the cause and within minutes of his introduction, he pulled things level with a stunning strike from the edge of the box. It was the inspiration Leeds needed and the crowd raised the volume another notch, sensing a win was still possible with over half an hour to play. Talismanic striker Jermaine Beckford had been made captain for the day and it proved to be an inspired decision by Simon Grayson as the number nine fired Leeds in front from close range after a Bradley Johnson cross had fell into his path. Elland Road erupted and fans mobbed Beckford and co. on the pitch. Rovers rarely threatened in the remaining twenty-five minutes and at full time the Elland Road pitch was awash with Leeds fans, embracing their heroes. Leeds don’t tend to do things the easy way and to call this game an emotional rollercoaster would be an understatement, so winning in the manner in which they did makes it all the more special.
Starting line-up: Higgs, Lowry (Howson), Bromby, Collins, Hughes, Gradel, Kilkenny, Doyle, Johnson, Beckford (Snodgrass), Becchio (Watt). Unused: Ankergren, Michalik, McSheffrey, Grella.
Did you know? Three years on, out of the players that featured that day, only Leigh Bromby is still at the club.