Foootball: Booth's bonanza

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 1

Pembridge og 63

Sheffield Wednesday 2

Newsome 51, Booth 83

Attendance: 33,166

BEFORE the game, George Graham called Mark Beeney "one of the unluckiest players in football" and, after making only his second appearance in 20 months, the reserve goalkeeper will agree.

After a moment of misfortune when he parried his first real save perfectly into the path of Jon Newsome, who scored, his blushes appeared to have been saved when Mark Pembridge accidentally turned the ball into his own net to equalise. But then, with seven minutes left, Beeney was powerless as Andy Booth ran unmarked from off the pitch to power the winner from close range. The defeat by their bitter Yorkshire rivals was Leeds' first at home since September.

If a costly mistake were to occur in any rearguard, it seemed it would be in Wednesday's. Their offside trap was porous and there was a huge leak down their right-hand side early in the first half. Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink was the first to burst through in the seventh minute, followed by Harry Kewell and David Hopkin, but their shooting let them down. Gradually Wednesday plugged the gaps and began playing the slicker football. Eager for the ball, Paolo Di Canio was the fulcrum, although his neat touches often encouraged his team-mates only to run into the barn door that is Robert Molenaar.

A double substitution by Graham at half-time had two results. First, it released Di Canio from the shackles of Molenaar and, in the 51st minute, the Italian's quick free-kick allowed Pembridge to cross and Newsome eventually scored.

The second was that Kewell was withdrawn into midfield as Rod Wallace - who, after seven years at Leeds, is now on the transfer list for failing to co- operate in contract talks - came on up front. From midfield, the teenage Australian began surging into the penalty area and, in the 63rd minute, his run took him past Newsome and his shot from a tight angle was turned in by the unfortunate Pembridge.

After Booth turned in the winner from Ian Nolan's good deep cross, Beeney was left to reflect on his luck and that Nigel Martyn's return from a one-match ban would surely see him adding to the 152 times he has sat on the Leeds bench in his five years at Elland Road.