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The Gods Are Smiling On Whites

The Gods Are Smiling On Whites

STOKE: Simonsen, Halls (Buxton 75), Duberry, Hoefkens, Broomes (Sigurdsson 82), Gallagher, Russell, Brammer, Chadwick, Bangoura, Sidibe.

Subs Not Used: de Goey, Sweeney, Henry.

LEEDS UTD: Sullivan, Kelly, Butler, Kilgallon, Harding, Lewis, Douglas, Derry, Cresswell, Healy (Miller 66), Blake (Hulse 82).

Subs Not Used: Pugh, Richardson, Bennett.

Att: 20,408

An Eddie Lewis goal was enough to secure a Leeds victory in a Coca-Cola game Leeds struggled to dominate at the Britannia Stadium. But it is moments like this that make you wonder if the Gods are smiling on us.

Paul Gallagher had a penalty saved by Leeds goalkeeper Neil Sullivan and the Potters had more chances and possession. But if you don't score when you are on top ... there is always a danger of being made to pay.

And with 22 minutes remaining, Lewis did just that, stabbing home from close-range to earn his team victory.

As the Potters became increasingly desperate, substitute Hannes Sigurdsson had a long-range effort pushed onto the post by Sullivan and Michael Duberry was denied by the bar - but the equaliser never looked came.

It was a cracking game from the very start, with both sides looking to play attractive and open football.

Leeds looked slick in possession but it was the Potters who had the first real opportunity, although Sullivan was hardly troubled by Dave Brammer's low 30-yard effort.

There was a near-miss by Duberry but in the 17th minute, a Gallagher shot bounced back off Sullivan's body and as players contested the rebound, referee Mark Halsey felt Mamady Sidibe was fouled by Gary Kelly and quickly pointed to the spot.

But Gallagher, who has impressed greatly during his loan spell from Blackburn, was thwarted by Sullivan.

While Leeds' front three of Robbie Blake, David Healy and Richard Cresswell linked up well there was surprisingly little end product apart from a couple of Jonathan Douglas shots from the edge of the area.

As the Potters continued to press, United defender Paul Butler got his head to a John Halls cross and was relieved to see the ball loop just wide of his own goal.

There was a short delay to the start of the second half as Halsey, who injured an Achilles before the interval, was replaced by fourth official Chris Sarginson.

Gallagher saw an effort from the edge of the area fly wide and another fine run by the Scotland international was only halted by a fine tackle by Matthew Kilgallon.

Stoke were scrappier after the break but enjoying the majority of possession and just before the hour Luke Chadwick drove wide after exchanging passes with Sidibe.

United did threaten in the 60th minute when Cresswell headed Dan Harding's cross straight at Potters goalkeeper Steve Simonsen.

Having spent most of the game on the back foot, Leeds began to get a foothold in the match and after a long spell of possession, Healy saw a long-range effort rebound off a Stoke defender, while Lewis also struck an effort wide shortly after.

But with 22 minutes remaining, the visitors got themselves in front when a Douglas cross from the right somehow evaded Cresswell and Potters defender Carl Hoefkens, leaving Lewis to add the composed finish from five yards.

Four minutes later, Lewis had a penalty claim for a challenge from Duberry turned down.

City were reeling but Bangoura finally had his first decent chance, seeing a powerful drive held by Sullivan at the second attempt.

Sullivan pulled off another fine save, pushing Sigurdsson's strike onto the post and wide while Cresswell headed straight at Simonsen from a cross from substitute Liam Miller at the other end.

In stoppage time, Duberry saw his close-range effort come back off the bar - but Leeds held on for the win.

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Date:Friday December 30 2005
Time: 2:03PM

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