Kampfakta Leeds – Peterborough 24. januar 2009

Leeds 3, Posh 1 – Leeds super-subs steal the show

THIS was a good performance, a bad result and the most blatant proof yet that strength in depth may hold the key to Posh’s promotion prospects.
For an hour Darren Ferguson’s first XI shaded a terrific contest between two quality-laden sides, but there was no contest when re-enforcements were required.

Leeds had Jermaine Beckford and Jonathan Howson to come on and claim three goals between them in the final 30 minutes, while Posh seemingly had no-one the manager trusted to make a difference.

Apparently the funds are in place if new players are wanted, but Ferguson remains stubborn in his refusal to make signings.

It’s an admirable vote of confidence in his preferred line-up, but the boss must hope that he can avoid injuries and suspensions as successfully as Gordon Brown avoids the blame.

If he does, Ferguson may well have nothing to worry about. It remains a joy to watch his emerging side weave pretty patterns against far more experienced opponents, although much of the classy approach work in this clash failed to lead to clear-cut opportunities.

Leeds, probably realising that defeat could have led to the end of their own hopes of an end-of-season elevation, were robust and committed.

Their football was not quite so pure, but it was effective and threatening enough, particularly when Lee Trundle had the ball at his feet, to offer Craig Morgan and Gaby Zakuani one of their sternest tests of the season.

But ultimately it was the arrival off the bench of Beckford following his ill-timed, as far as Posh were concerned, recovery from injury which turned the game.

Posh were enjoying their best spell of pressure in the game when he arrived in the 59th minute and 15 minutes later he’d scored twice to virtually seal the destination of the points.

Posh grumbled at the award of a soft free-kick for a foul by Zakuani on Trundle, but Joe Lewis should have protected the referee by holding on to Bradley Johnson’s free-kick rather than spilling it at Beckford’s feet.

It was a shame for Lewis who had stretched his sinewy frame to thwart Andy Robinsion and Jonathan Douglas in the first half.

Straight after the opening goal he stood firm to stop Trundle adding a second, but keepers are remembered more for their mistakes than their bouts of brilliance.

Trundle’s through-ball, Beckford’s cunning run and some hopeless positioning by Morgan led to a second goal and prompted Fabian Delph to start displaying his extravagant talents, but Posh to their credit kept pushing.

George Boyd had forced Leeds keeper Casper Ankergren into two flying saves from distance in the first half as Posh, boosted by impressive displays by Paul Coutts and Chris Whelpdale, sprayed the ball about in style.

Craig Mackail-Smith headed wide from a difficult angle after Coutts and Charlie Lee had opened up the home defence, but they could never get close enough, often enough to goal to seriously worry Ankergren, mainly thanks to the excellence of Leeds loanee Richard Naylor.

It’s a back-handed compliment that a club the size of Leeds has to borrow players just to be able to compete with Posh and Naylor’s importance was emphasised five minutes from time when he flew across the turf to block Macakail-Smith’s attempt at an equaliser.

Three minutes earlier the Posh top scorer had a simple task to pull a goal back after Boyd had headed Whelpdale’s excellent cross against the crossbar.

Leeds did look anxious in those final moments, but they finally engineered a four-on-one breakaway which enabled Howson to put an undeserved gloss on the final scoreline.

The home side also had a former England Under 21 keeper as well as some experienced outfield players on their substitutes’ bench.

If they fail to go up it will be down to a lack of quality rather than a lack of numbers.

Match facts

Beckford (61 mins & 74 mins), Howson (90 mins).
Mackail-Smith (82 mins).

REFEREE: Anthony Taylor 7.

Yellow cards:
Leeds – Delph (booked).


Casper Ankergren 7
Andrew Hughes 6
Carl Dickinson 6
Rui Marques 6
Richard Naylor 8
Bradley Johnson 6
Fabian Delph 7
Andy Robinson 7
Jonathan Douglas 7
Luciano Becchio 6
Lee Trundle 7

Jermaine Beckford: (for Becchio, 59 mins).
Jonathan Howson: (for Trundle, 83 mins).
Robert Snodgrass: (for Robinson, 90 mins).
David Lucas: (not used).
Lubomir Michalik: (not used).

The ratings

Joe Lewis 7
He was playing so well until he spilled a free-kick to concede crucial opening goal

Russell Martin 7
Linked up with the attack in fine style at times and defended well

Gaby Zakuani 6
Trundle just about shaded a fascinating duel with a highly committed defender

Craig Morgan 6
Totally bemused by Beckford for second goal, played solidly overall though

Charlie Lee 7
He gets better and better by the week, an excellent full-back in the making

Chris Whelpdale 8 (Star man)
Rose to the occasion, created the goal with great cross

Paul Coutts 7
Over-shadowed the highly-rated Delph for an hour, promising display

Dean Keates 7
Outstanding first half when breaking up many Leeds attacks

George Boyd 7
A constant menace first half, shooting got more wayward as game went on

Craig Mackail-Smith 6
Simple goal crowned a typically hard-working performance

Aaron Mclean 6
Some decent link-up play, but no chances falling his way


Shaun Batt: (for Whelpdale, 90 mins).
James McKeown: (not used).
Danny Blanchett: (not used).
Andrew Crofts: (not used).
Sergio Torres: (not used).

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