The Renaissance of Leeds United was gathering genuine pace during
the 2009/10 season after seven years of rapid decline. The reversal
of fortunes was highlighted by some outstanding displays against
Premier League opponents: Liverpool were
narrow victors at Elland Road in the Carling Cup in September;
Leeds achieved a memorable win at Old Trafford
in the FA Cup third round at the beginning of January; and
then followed up with some stirring defiance in the next round,
against Tottenham Hotspur on the 23rd of the month, when two
Jermaine Beckford goals at White Hart Lane earned a replay.
United's League form dipped badly during January, with the heady
excitement of mixing it with top flight opponents an understandable
distraction. Leeds' 2-0 defeat of promotion rivals Colchester
on 30 January was their first League One victory of 2010. They
had lost three of their previous five games, in the process falling
three points behind leaders Norwich.
Promotion was United manager Simon Grayson's priority and the
diversion of the FA Cup spotlight was somewhat unwelcome. Elland
Road supporters pragmatically shared the manager's view, but the
whiff of big time football was simply too intoxicating to turn
up one's nose at.
Grayson said of the momentous victory against Manchester United:
"It was a fantastic experience going there... No one expected
us to win on this stage except perhaps 9,000 Leeds fans and the
players and us in the dressing room... We said in the build up
the players would sink or swim and they came out with plenty of
credit. They can draw on that now and go on from there. Overall
it was a great day for the club. We've done something which everyone
can be immensely proud of."
The draw at White Hart Lane was equally thrilling, as acknowledged
by Grayson: "It was a cracking atmosphere, they had a stronger
team than Man U in the last round and it was a big result. It
was well deserved... We said all along we have players who can
create chances and finish, and it proved... I would rather have
lost 4-1 than not having chased the game."
In the days before the Elland Road replay, Grayson added: "We
have nothing to lose against Spurs. That would have been the case
regardless of Saturday's result because our confidence and belief
never waned when we were not winning over the last few weeks.
We are still the underdogs but we go into the game with a good
shout. My main focus is on next Saturday's game at Hartlepool
but we are taking the replay seriously because we want to win
through to the next round.
"We will put a team out against Tottenham that will hopefully
compete and give a good
account of themselves. We showed at White Hart Lane that we can
play the ball around like them. If we beat them it will give us
a major psychological boost because they are a top team.
"I will tell the players to go out and enjoy it really - the
same as we did in the first game and at Old Trafford. Have no
regrets when they come off the pitch and somebody try and be a
hero. Jermaine has got a lot of headlines over the last couple
of rounds. It would be nice for somebody else to get them for
United were without their injured Australians, Paddy Kisnorbo
and Neil Kilkenny, but otherwise at full strength, with the familiar
attacking partnership of Beckford and Luciano Becchio in place.
The giant Slovakian, Lubo Michalik, was recalled at centre-back
to counter the aerial threat of Peter Crouch.
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Tottenham could also select from strength, despite the departure
of Robbie Keane on loan to Celtic. England international David
Bentley was given the opportunity to continue his revival on the
right after being out of favour following a drink-driving conviction
in the summer. Club captain Ledley King was rested while Wilson
Palacios and Luka Modric were on the bench.
Despite a couple of hours of heavy snow falling prior to kick
off, the pitch nevertheless looked in remarkably good condition
when Tottenham kicked off at 7.45. They sought to make their early
possession count, though United players were quickly in their
faces, putting time and space at a premium.
The first chance fell to the visitors: Niko Kranjcar's raking
pass out to Bentley on the right wing was intercepted by Andy
Hughes, but his header back to Casper Ankergren was misjudged
and short, offering Jermain Defoe the opportunity to get a shot
in. His miscued effort bobbled goalwards but was cleared into
touch by the alert Richard Naylor.
The Tottenham throw was intercepted by Bradley Johnson and hammered
downfield to Beckford, who held play up well on the left flank
before he cut inside to find Robert Snodgrass on the opposite
wing. The Scot fed it back to Leigh Bromby, but the defender's
cross was easily cleared away by Spurs.
Tottenham enjoyed some good possession in the Leeds half, but
they could not fashion a clear opening and Becchio and Snodgrass
broke out in tandem down the right to earn a throw deep in Spurs
territory. Michalik came up for what promised to be a long throw
by Bromby, but instead the ball was played short to Michael Doyle
who fed Johnny Howson in the centre of the pitch. Tottenham were
slow to get to the midfielder who tried a speculative curler which
slipped wide of Heurelho Gomes' left hand post.
After five minutes, Kranjcar got possession after a Leeds attack
broke down and hammered the ball forward for Defoe in the right
channel. The England striker collected and fed Bentley to his
right; the ball was transferred instantly forward
to Jermaine Jenas who had run on towards the Leeds penalty area.
Referee Andre Marriner awarded Spurs a free kick 30 yards from
goal when the midfielder was fouled by Naylor as he sought to
turn on the ball.
Bentley's dead ball attempt was headed out for a corner by Bromby
on the edge of the Leeds wall. Bentley took the flag kick and
found Sebastien Bassong in space in the heart of the area, but
he chose to volley first time and the ball curled over the bar.
In the ninth minute Becchio and Snodgrass combined to bring Leeds
forward again down the right flank, but Spurs broke up the move
when it reached Howson.
Bentley made his way down the Tottenham right before firing a
low ball across the six-yard line, but there were no Spurs takers
for a promising pass which was cleared by Bromby for a corner.
A couple of minutes later, Crouch got in front of Michalik to
chest down a Corluka cross for Defoe, whose instant strike from
the edge of the area flashed narrowly past Ankergren's right hand
post with the goalkeeper helpless.
Two more minutes and Leeds had their best opportunity thus far.
Naylor won his tackle to feed Howson and the Leeds midfielder
found Hughes to the left. There was no obvious pass on and the
left-back took a risk as he dwelled on the ball, but retained
possession and managed to get the ball back to Michalik. His hoofed
clearance down the left was headed on by Johnson, who pressurised
Corluka. A hasty Spurs clearance was cushion headed down carefully
by Naylor for Becchio to hold up down the middle. The Argentinian
fed Howson who tried to put Snodgrass clear on the right. The
Scott was heavily marked and returned to Howson, whose centre
was partially cleared by Dawson. The ball fell to Doyle, who got
in a low left footed effort from ten yards outside the area but
Gomes gathered low to his right.
Seconds later, Beckford went for a high ball forty yards from
goal and was given the free kick after Dawson led with his elbow.
It was a promising position Snodgrass' ball into the area was
But Leeds were starting to settle into the game now and having
some decent possession, though there was no obvious cutting edge
in the final third.
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After 18 minutes, Bromby sent a long throw deep into the Tottenham
area for Michalik and the ball dropped for Snodgrass to tease
Gareth Bale. There was no way through and the Scot fed back out
to Bromby whose dangerous cross dropped under the Spurs bar. Beckford
got above the keeper and nodded onto the crossbar, but the referee
awarded a free kick for the challenge on the keeper. It looked
a harsh decision with Gomes flapping at the falling ball.
Tottenham sprang back into attack, with Bentley showing more
good control in combination with Corluka on the right before being
brought down by Johnson. Bentley took the free kick himself and
floated it to Crouch at the far post. His header caused some anxiety
but it was cleared by Becchio for a throw. Bentley's influence
on proceedings was mounting by the second.
Leeds enjoyed a period of good pressure in the 24th minute but
ended, ironically, in
another Tottenham chance. Jenas was harried into a desperate long
clearance, but it found Defoe in yards of space down the middle.
He had time to pretty much do anything he wanted as he made his
way unopposed to the edge of the area. Ankergren raced out to
narrow the angle and Defoe chose to place his shot past him, but
the keeper deflected the effort wide. It had been a golden opportunity.
After 26 minutes Kranjcar fed the overlapping Bale down the left
and his whipped in cross looked dangerous. A deflection by Bromby
only added to the threat and the ball was heading at pace inside
Ankergren's near post but he showed lightning reflexes to change
direction, get down and parry the ball away. It was a miraculous
Three minutes later, Leeds came with some concerted passing out
of defence. Howson set Becchio up to bring the ball away from
a number of challenges. He returned the ball to the advancing
Howson who brought Snodgrass into play on the right. He sought
to find Howson on the edge of the Spurs box, but the ball was
inaccurate and allowed Bassong to make an easy clearance. He
could only find Doyle, though, and Snodgrass picked up the ball
again to earn a throw on the right.
Bromby's throw was to Becchio with his back to goal and he turned
away from a challenge to feed Beckford on the edge of the area
in space between Corluka and Dawson. His attempted lay off for
Snodgrass ran out to the right but Becchio got to it and tried
a back heel. Bassong was on hand to clear downfield to Crouch.
The beanpole striker held it up long enough to bring Kranjcar
into play, and a delightful speared ball down the left flank put
Jenas in the clear. He cut inside when he reached the box and
stroked the ball inside but Defoe had overrun the pass and Crouch
was short of it. Johnson was able to collect and come out calmly
from the back. The midfielder strode forward and fed Beckford.
He turned away from his man at half way and ran at the retreating
defence, but a speculative chip from 25 yards sailed well over
After 30 minutes a long Spurs clearance was slightly deflected
by a Leeds player and caught Michalik off balance. Defoe thus
had another clear run in on goal, but he allowed the big Slovakian
to catch him and went down under the pressure from behind. As
Ankergren gathered the ball, Defoe claimed a free kick but referee
Andre Marriner was not impressed.
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At the start of the 35th minute, Corluka's chip forward found
Huddlestone in the Leeds box and he set up Defoe to hammer powerfully
goalwards, but Ankergren was again able to match the quality of
the strike and parry safely away.
It was clear, however, that Crouch and Defoe had the Leeds defence
in their pockets and would eventually capitalise on one of the
host of opportunities coming their way. The clever Tottenham midfielders
had taken control of the game and were outclassing their United
counterparts, who were having to rely exclusively on quick breaks.
Seconds later the pressure finally reaped its just harvest. Bentley
tricked Hughes and left him for dead down the right before haring
to the byline and cutting back for Defoe. The striker's initial
touch was poor, sending the ball in the area, but he turned and
swung into a shot. His contact was again not true, but the ball
struck his shin and sliced into the far corner of the net. A better
shot would probably have been blocked, but his skewed effort fooled
both goalkeeper and defence and gave the visitors a deserved lead.
Leeds were stung by falling behind and responded robustly.
They had the opportunity of an instant reply with a free kick
35 yards from goal on the left. The drilled ball in from Bromby
was met by Michalik's head and Gomes had to be smart to touch
the ball out for the corner.
Snodgrass' flag kick and the follow ups caused some desperate
Tottenham defending in and around their box and appeals for a
penalty by Becchio as he was pushed to the turf. Seconds later,
a last ditch block by Dawson was required to deny Bromby's strike
a clear route to the net.
A minute later, Leeds had another opportunity when Howson's chip
into the area was headed goalwards by Johnson, but there was no
power in the effort which floated gently into the hands of Gomes.
Defoe had another opportunity when a Crouch header found him
just outside the Leeds box. Replays confirmed he was offside,
but the referee let him play on and the striker tried a cheeky
instant chip from 20 yards but spooned it up for Ankergren to
gather and send the home side away again.
A couple of Snodgrass crosses from the right increased the crowd's
volume, though Spurs defenders dealt with them confidently enough.
Leeds kept the pressure hard on the back four, however, and were
pushing with some success as Johnson's low effort called Gomes
into action with Becchio and Beckford waiting for any mistake.
As the game inched towards half time, they were unlucky not to
get a penalty when Snodgrass was
tackled as he went outside Bale. He refused to go down but did
earn the corner.
Snodgrass' centre was worked back out to the Scot on the right
and when it came out, Howson hurled a ball forward to Beckford
on the edge of the goal area. He spun into a wonderful shot from
the right which was parried by Gomes but Becchio slid in to make
no mistake at the back post and Leeds were back on terms.
It had been such an impressive response, and at that moment Spurs
were rocking. The visitors could point justifiably to all their
missed chances, but Leeds were suddenly in the ascendancy as the
half time whistle went.
Tottenham came out having had a flea in the ear from manager
Harry Redknapp and had the first chance of the second half, though
Defoe's shot from the left sailed harmlessly out beyond the far
post. He was closer in the fiftieth minute when he ran across
the Leeds defence to fire in a shot that worried Ankergren before
it dropped inches over his bar.
The visitors were laying siege to the United box now as they
held good possession, probing carefully for a weakness.
Crouch should have done much better after 51 minutes when he
reached Kranjcar's driven cross shot from the left. He slid in
with the goal at his mercy but could only flick the ball wide
of the post.
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There was a now rare Leeds opportunity in the 54th minute when
the ball found Beckford five yards outside the Tottenham box.
He held it well, got into a shooting chance and struck a low shot
goalwards. Dawson deflected it narrowly wide of
Gomes' left hand upright for a corner. The flag kick brought some
anxious moments in the Spurs area before it was scrambled away.
Then good approach play by Snodgrass and a back flick from Beckford
set up Becchio for an effort from the edge of the area, which
Dawson deflected for another corner, though there were claims
of handball. Michalik missed a clear opportunity at a header from
the corner which dropped tamely to Gomes.
After 58 minutes, Dawson headed a Bentley corner goalwards only
for Ankergren to tip over one handed. From the second flag kick,
Bentley became the first man booked for a late challenge on Naylor
as he sought to clear.
On the hour Defoe ran beyond the Leeds rearguard onto a through
ball and was disappointed when he was adjudged offside. Television
replays substantiated his feelings.
It was a clearer decision a few seconds later when Becchio chased
a high ball down the other end of the field.
Crouch won another aerial challenge in the 63rd minute and Jenas
set up Huddlestone just outside the area, but his power drive
A minute later, Bentley was fortunate when a rebound from Hughes
fell into his path, but he capitalised wonderfully well, driving
on for goal and his cracking shot forced Ankergren into a touch
over the bar.
After 67 minutes, Tottenham broke forward in numbers after a
Leeds attack broke down. Kranjcar played the ball on to Bale overlapping
down the left. His low cross was slid home by Defoe, but the goal
was chalked off for offside to the relieved cheers of the home
Within a minute Defoe had yet another opportunity. A high ball
was touched down by Crouch on the edge of the area but Ankergren
smothered Defoe's strike. The succession of wasted opportunities
was becoming embarrassing for the England striker.
Becchio was chasing all the lost causes, keeping up United hopes
and after Johnson intercepted a ball
down the left after 70 minutes, the Argentinian had an opportunity
to give Leeds the lead. Johnson fed the ball on to Beckford, who
turned inside Dawson and slipped the ball forward to Becchio,
inside Bassong on the penalty spot. He tried to check to buy time,
but with that the chance was lost as Dawson smashed the ball into
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Finally, with just over a quarter of an hour remaining, Tottenham's
pressing brought them more reward. A through ball into the area
for Defoe looked inviting, but he hesitated a little, allowing
Michalik to slide in and concede the corner. The flag kick was
fed deep to Jenas, who worked it back to Bentley on the right.
His telling ball, low across the goal area, was flicked by Defoe
into the net to give Tottenham the lead.
In the 76th minute, Simon Grayson made his first change, bringing
on Aidan White for Andy Hughes, with Johnson dropping to left-back.
Bale's low cross to the far post was meant for Crouch but Michalik
did wonders to get to it first and allow Leeds to clear their
lines. But it was anxious stuff now with tired Leeds legs giving
way as Tottenham had them chasing shadows in midfield.
After 81 minutes, Johnson was booked for a late foul on Bentley
as he cut inside him. A minute later, Beckford slid in to block
a Corluka clearance and was also cautioned.
Bale's lofted cross to the back post saw Crouch soar above Michalik
to nod the ball onto the crossbar. He had been leaning on the
defender but got away with it.
With four minutes remaining, Jason Crowe and Mike Grella came
off the bench for Johnson and Becchio in a last throw of the dice
for Simon Grayson.
The 89th minute brought a Leeds free kick out on the right after
Beckford had held play up and forced a Kranjcar handball. Bromby
got his head to it in a crowded area but couldn't keep it down.
It was a wonderful opportunity of an equaliser.
Four minutes of added time gave Leeds hope but Tottenham were
retaining possession wonderfully well to run the clock down.
In the 92nd minute a ball down the left gave White the
chance to run at the Spurs defence, but Corluka dealt expertly
with him and Bentley was given the opportunity for another drive.
Naylor crunched into a tackle on Crouch just outside the box to
regain possession for Leeds.
Grella turned skillfully away from Corluka and Jenas to buy a
free kick around halfway with 90 seconds remaining. Ankergren
launched it deep into the Tottenham box with everybody forward
but Dawson got it out of immediate danger and then Bale hammered
it downfield. Defoe had a couple of yards on Doyle in the centre
circle and kept his head, heading straight for goal. He moved
the ball wide of Ankergren as the goalkeeper came out, effectively
blocking any chance of a Doyle challenge and slotted home his
third goal of the night to end the contest.
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It was a cruel finish to a memorable Cup run, but there was no
disputing Tottenham's clear superiority on the night, their midfield
players far too knowing.
Harry Polkey in the Guardian: "Beating Hartlepool away next Saturday
is, in the greater scheme of things, more important to Leeds United
than knocking Tottenham Hotspur out of the FA Cup, but no-one
who saw this hugely committed and at times frantic Cup-tie could
accuse the United players of harbouring their resources. As at
Manchester United in the third round, and 10 days ago at White
Hart Lane, the Yorkshire side produced a performance which both
belied their League One status and suggested that if they do not
get promoted this season, something at Elland Road will have gone
very wrong. After all, they are not going to come up against finishers
of the quality of Jermain Defoe, whose hat trick was his third
of the season. The Spurs manager, Harry Redknapp, suggested afterwards
that the England striker could have scored six and Bolton, their
opponents in the next round, will be wary. But United created
plenty of chances, and the result was in doubt until Defoe's third,
deep into stoppage time."
Simon Grayson was understandably proud of his players' efforts
when he said afterwards, "We were very good again. We passed the
ball around well and competed ever so well against a top team
in the Premier League. That's all we said to the players - give
a good account of yourself and do yourselves justice. Nobody expected
us to win apart from maybe 33,000 inside the ground and the players,
but we like to think we've come out of it with a lot of credit.
"We've been to Old Trafford and won there, we had a great performance
at White Hart Lane and again on Wednesday against Tottenham. The
players have to take a lot from it, and the fans were outstanding
"The players can take a lot of heart and use it as inspiration
to get better and better. I have a group of players who can play
in the Championship and beyond. A lot are young and they are only
going to get better. The infrastructure here is ready to go and
the fan base is there to take off so we have every incentive.
"We said before the game 'Do yourselves justice and give the
fans something to shout about' and they did that. I thought we
were outstanding. We tried to get an equaliser at 2-1, and put
up a real fight.
"Tottenham are a great team and we've given them two great games.
Casper made some good saves and in the first half we caused them
problems with the way we passed it. It was a great response from
the players and the fans and we got back into it. We gave it a
go in the second and the players can be proud of themselves."
Harry Redknapp was understandably pleased to be through, and
acknowledged the fight put up by Leeds: "This is a massive football
club, the atmosphere was absolutely incredible, but they have
been getting 25,000 and 26,000 every week. It is a club that belongs
in the Premier League, and they need to get back to where they
should be. They will certainly get promoted this year, and I think
they will be back in the top flight in the next few years."
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