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Late agony for Leeds

Norwich City
1 - 0
Leeds United

Carrow Road

27/03/10 3pm

Attendance: 24,445


Leeds United came away from Carrow Road on Saturday empty handed despite a much improved performance against league leaders Norwich City.

The Whites made five changes from the side that were so dismal against Millwall on Monday.

Shane Higgs made his first start in goal since October and Jermaine Beckford and Neil Kilkenny also returned to the side.

New loan signings Neil Collins and Shane Lowry also went straight into the side as the club tried to bring to an end back to back defeats.

When the two clubs met at Elland Road earlier in the season the Norwich midfield outmuscled their Leeds counterparts but this time the Leeds midfield were closing and arraying the Norwich midfield and Doyle and Kilkenny were dominating in the centre of the park.

Leeds were passing the ball around really well and the overlapping Shane Lowry and Andy Hughes on each wing, were often finding plenty of room.

Beckford had Leeds first chance but his shot was blocked by the impressive Doherty and the ball went out for a corner.

Neil Kilkenny was next to shoot on goal but his effort from the edge of the area went over the bar.

Both sides were finding it hard to get a clear cut sight of goal, Grant Holt probably wasted the best chance close to half time when his shot from the edge of the area went well over when he was well placed and under no pressure.

The second half carried on where the first half had left off with the hard working Leeds midfield continuously frustrating Norwich.

When Hooloahan did find a bit of space he found Elliott on the edge of the area, his effort cleared the bar as the ball refused to drop nicely for him.

Doherty also missed a great chance when his header went wide following a Norwich corner.

Leeds were carving out no clear cut chances, Snodgrass saw a shot just go wide of the post as did Howson.

Grella worked himself a bit of space but his weak left foot shot was easy for Forster.

Such was Leeds dominance in midfield that Norwich boss Paul Lambert replaced the usually impressive Wes Hoolahan with 20 minutes remaining.

The tiring Neil Kilkenny was replaced inside the final five minutes by Bradley Johnson. Within minutes of coming on he failed to pick up Norwich substitute Stephen Hughes who was allowed to advance well into the Leeds half before delivering a cross that was met by fellow substitute Chris Martin, Martin managed to get in ahead of Neil Collins and glanced his header into the far corner.

It was a cruel blow for Leeds who had worked hard all afternoon and were once again going to come away with nothing.

Leeds brought on Tresor Kandol immediately hoping to grab an equaliser, but his afternoon was over within 20 seconds of coming on when he was shown a straight red for what was an alleged headbutt.

Kandol`s sending off was the third fastest in Football League history and also Leeds first red card of the season.

Leeds couldn`t create any chances in the final moments and you could see the disappointment on the players face at the final whistle.

The result was compounded at full time when the P.A announced that Millwall had won 5-0 to bring them level on points and now just one goal down on goal difference.

Simon Grayson is sure to take plenty of positives from the game and if the team can show the same level of commitment in the final eight games then Leeds will definitely still be very close to the second automatic promotion place come the final game of the season.

Star Player

Mike Doyle
Along with Kilkenny, Doyle ran the midfield with his non stop running, tackling and passing. Won everything in the second half and his performance got the dredit it deserved when Norwich replaced their influential midfielder Wes Hoolahan with 20 minutes remaining.

Player Ratings

Shane Higgs 6

Didn`t have much chance with the goal and had a farely quiet afternoon.
Nice to see a Leeds keeper actually coming out and taking the ball and controlling his back four.
Only bad point was a few of his kicks were very poor.

Andy Hughes 6 (replaced 90)

Got forward to help out the midfield but was guilty of some wayward passing at times. Was lucky to get away with a poor back pass in the first half.

Richard Naylor 7

Looked back to the form of last season, hardly gave Holt a kick all afternoon in a good battle between the two strong men.

Neil Collins 7

Made a good debut, some to be the defender who was controlling the back four with plenty of instructions being barked out to his fellow defenders.
Only bad point was allowing Martin to get across him for the all important goal.

Shane Lowry 7

Played much better than on his last loan spell, got stuck in with some hard tackles.
Only bad point was his crossing, on two or three occasions he found himself in a good position to put in a telling cross but failed to get close to a team mate with any of them.

Jon Howson 7

Worked very hard with the rest of the midfield with some crunching tackles and never giving the Norwich midfield a moments rest.

Neil Kilkenny 7 (replaced 85 minutes)

Was Leeds best player in the first half as he controlled the midfield and was regularly finding time and space on the ball to play in the overlapping full backs. Tired in the second half

Mike Doyle 8 Star man

Along with Kilkenny, Doyle ran the midfield with his non stop running, tackling and passing. Won everything in the second half and his performance got the dredit it deserved when Norwich replaced their influential midfielder Wes Hoolahan with 20 minutes remaining.

Luciano Becchio 5 (replaced 14 minutes)

Was sorely missed after being knocked unconscious, Leeds really missed a player in attack to win the headers and hold the ball up.

Jermaine Beckford 3

Just doesn`t look interested when faced with a big strong central defender. Gary Doherty in the Norwich defence never gave him a chance all afternoon and Beckford`s lack of effort and continual throwing himself to the floor when Doherty came anywhere near him frustrated both sets of fans.
In his defence, the balls into him were always in the air and he was never going to win a ball. What he needed was balls into the channel and behind Doherty as he as the legs to beat him all afternoon.

Robert Snodgrass 7

Seemed to be given a more free roll in the Leeds midfield and wandered all over the park all afternoon.
Was another who was instrumental in the Leeds midfield but was unable to get in a telling cross.
Was unlucky when his shot flashed across the face of goal.

Mike Grella 6 (replaced Becchio 14)

Got plenty of time on the pitch for a change, worked very hard alongside the statuesque Beckford, lacked a real cutting edge in front of goal and just wanted one touch to many.

Bradley Johnson(replaced Kilkenny 85) 3

Was at fault for not picking up Hughes for the cross that created the goal in the final minute.
Never really threatened in an attacking sense and looks a shadow of the player that was mr consistent in the first three months of the season.

Tresor Kandol (replaced Hughes 90)

Lasted 20 seconds for an alleged head butt, didn`t actually look much in the incident which happened right in front of referee. He obviously saw something we didn`t.

Manager Rating

Simon Grayson 6
People have been saying he`s lost the dressing room but on this performance that is not evident. The players (apart from one) worked their socks off for him all afternoon.
If Leeds can take this performance into the last eight games of the season then we will clinch the final automatic place.

Felt the game was crying out for either Dickov or Kandol with 20 minutes remaining just to unsettle the Norwich defence as we lacked any punch up front (until Kandol came on!).

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Date:Sunday March 28 2010
Time: 9:57AM

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Totally gutted after this defeat, we definitely deserved a point. Our biggest problem is up front.
28/03/2010 16:31:00
You set yourselves up very well, really stifled our flowing football and as you say, it was a case of two defences. On this performance, you can take confidence in coming weeks.
Candid NCFC
29/03/2010 11:46:00
CAn't believe we lost this game after playing so well.
King Billy
08/04/2010 18:57:00
Hope this point drop doesn't effect the table at the end of the season
14/04/2010 16:21:00
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