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Leeds Utd 0 Stke City 0

Leeds Utd 0 Stke City 0

LEEDS: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Gregan, Crainey, Miller,Douglas (Blake 68), Derry, Lewis (Griffiths 74), Hulse,Healy (Beckford 63).
Subs Not Used: Bennett, Kilgallon.

STOKE: Simonsen, Hoefkens, Duberry, Hill, Buxton,Mbuyi (Brammer 61), Russell, Paterson, Gallagher (Sweeney 74),Sidibe, Bangoura (Sigurdsson 45).
Subs Not Used: de Goey, Broomes.

It's worrying times at Elland Road these days as the Whites continue their mini-slump.

But it won't be the result that will have hurt Kevin Blackwell so much as the way his side looked so lacklustre in a drab draw against a Stoke side that had little to offer.

The link-up play was not that bad, but the play in the final third of the pitch lacked any cutting edge. On top of the home defeat to Crystal Palace in midweek, dropping two more points in the race for second spot had the fans pulling out their hair.

Stoke captain Michael Duberry probably saw it different. Until last year on Leeds' books, he rose above the abuse of home fans to skipper his side to an unexpected point as Leeds never looked like bouncing back from that Palace defeat. You tend to look to certain players to lift the side out of the gloom, but it just didn't happen.

Rob Hulse's late header against the post was the closest United came, alkthough they did have a lot of the game.

On-loan forward Paul Gallagher had the first - and what was to prove the only - shot on target of the first half in the ninth minute after Shaun Derry lost possession, but Neil Sullivan held on easily. At the other end Clint Hill did well to nod clear under pressure from Hulse as the striker tried to reach Gary Kelly's cross.

Eddie Lewis went down in the box under a challenge from Duberry in the 19th minute, but the referee indicated there was no contact and the American lost his balance. Seconds later Stephen Crainey's left-foot volley from 30 yards was dipping, but too late to trouble Potters goalkeeper Steve Simonsen.

Hulse was knocked over by Carl Hoefkens in the box after Liam Miller carved an opening by juggling the ball over his own head and crossing from the right, but again the referee saw nothing to warrant a penalty.

Duberry suffered some abuse when he came up to the Kop end for a free-kick as Leeds fans reminded him of his role as a witness in the trial of former United stars Jonathan Woodgate and Lee Bowyer.

Sean Gregan probably impressed most of all after his return to the side following suspension, but it took time for the strikers to get into gear. Hulse's header and David Healy's shot from the edge of the box, both in the 50th minute, forced Simonsen to make saves. And suddenly things looked a little brighter.

Leeds brought on Robbie Blake and new boy Jermaine Beckford in pursuit of a winner, but the result stayed the same.

Stoke went very close when Darel Russell's 25-yard drive was tipped wide at full stretch by Sullivan. Then Hulse's late downward header in the last minute of normal time hit the post with Simonsen scrambling.


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Writer:
Date:Monday March 27 2006
Time: 2:57PM

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