LUFC - Leeds hoping to make it fourth time lucky!
This will be the fourth time that Leeds have taken part in the end of season play offs and have yet to taste victory in the final.
Leeds took part in the first ever Play offs in 1987, it was a different format to what we are used to now, the teams finishing 3rd, 4th and 5th in the old second division took part against the team finishing 20th in the first division.
Leeds played Oldham in the semi finals and they won the first leg 1-0 thanks to a Keith Edwards goal.
Two days later they lost 2-1 at Oldham after extra time, again Keith Edwards scored the goal. The tie finished 2-2 on aggregate, in those days away goals counted so Leeds went through on the away goal rule.
The final wasn`t played at Wembley in those days it was played over two legs only two days apart.
Leeds were to play Charlton who had finished 22nd in the first division that season.
Charlton won the first leg at home 1-0 and Leeds won the second leg 1-0 thanks to a rare goal from big Brendan Ormsby at Elland Road.
They didn`t have penalty shoot outs in the competition back then so the game went to a replay at St Andrews Birmingham.
The sides still couldn`t be separated after 90 minutes so the game went to extra time.
Leeds who had been beaten in the FA Cup semi final just over a month earlier thought they was on their way back to the top flight when John Sheridan curled a wonderful free kick into the back of the net in the second half of extra time to give Leeds the lead.
Unbelievably Charlton defender Peter Shirtliff scored two goals in the final few minutes to break Leeds hearts and mean another season in the second tier of English football.
It was almost twenty years till Leeds had their next taste of the play offs in 2006.
Once again Leeds were trying to gain promotion to the top flight.
By now the format had changed and they were played between the sides finishing 3rd, 4th 5th and 6th in the division.
Leeds finished the season in fifth place and would play fourth placed Preston North End in the semi final.
Leeds made hard work of reaching the final, in the home leg at Elland Road they fell behind to a David Nugent goal before a free kick from Eddie Lewis gave Leeds a draw.
In the second leg Leeds took the game by the scruff of the neck in the second half, goals from Rob Hulse and Frazer Richardson saw Leeds progress to the final.
The game was soured for Leeds when they finished the game with nine men. Stephen Crainey was the first to go for two bookable offences in the space of eight minutes and then Richard Cresswell who only came off the substitute`s bench after 78 minutes also got sent off for two yellow cards, the second one in the final minute for stupidly kicking the ball away.
Leeds played Watford in the final and just didn`t turn up being totally out fought and going out with a whimper in an embarrassing 3-0 defeat.
Leeds were relegated the season after and things were made even worse when they was deducted fifteen points before even kicking a ball in their first season in the third tier of English football.
The Whites showed a determined and fighting spirit and finished the season in fifth place.
They found themselves up against fourth placed Carlisle United in the semi final.
The first leg was at Elland Road and Leeds were staring elimination in the face when they trailed 2-0 after only fifty minutes, Dougie Freedman gave Leeds a glimmer of hope when he pulled a goal back in the sixth minute of injury time!
In the second leg local boy Jon Howson pulled the tie level in the first half and then deep into injury time in the game scored again to send Leeds to the new Wembley for the first time.
Leeds came up against Yorkshire rivals Doncaster Rovers in the final and once again failed to come to the party losing 1-0.
So can Leeds make it fourth time lucky?
First standing in their way is Millwall in the semi final, the two clubs shared a victory a piece during the normal season so a close encounter can be expected.
If Leeds can progress to the final then they will find themselves up against either MK Dons or Scunthorpe United in the final on May 24th when maybe just maybe Leeds will turn up and win it!
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