Football: Leeds' labour pays off

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The Independent Online
Leeds United 2

Manchester City 0

PERHAPS the Leeds United manager, Howard Wilkinson, was being economical with the truth in describing his side's performance as honest. It was also largely bland, unenterprising and ineffectual but he neglected to mention such minor matters.

Manchester City were a team ravaged by injury, illness and a fear of leaving home which would make a hermit seem adventurous. They invited defeat, yet Leeds had neither the wit nor rhythm to muster much of an advantage.

Both sides are in the top 10 of the Premiership and in its way the contest was the perfect antidote to those too easily prepared to assume that glittering stadia necessarily nurture football to match.

There was hardly an authoritative figure on either team, though the captains, Gary McAllister of Leeds and City's goalkeeper Tony Coton, came closest. McAllister is short of his peak form but his energy, not quite sustained to the end, usually makes him worth watching.

Coton made his habitual two or three significant saves, though he was powerless to prevent the goals, both from Noel Whelan. The 19- year-old forward made impressive ground to meet a cross from Gary Kelly, whose wonderful surge up the left after a City corner was to be a deceptively exciting moment, and in the final minute turned and shot alertly in the area.

Wilkinson was objective enough to observe that his side were not firing on all cylinders. The City manager, Brian Horton, said: 'It was just frustrating. We've got injuries. Half the lads have had flu, some of them did well to get through the game.' It was tempting to wish that some of them had stayed in bed.

Goals: Whelan (27) 1-0; Whelan (90) 2-0.

Leeds United (4-3-3): Lukic; Kelly, Palmer, Wetherall, Worthington; McAllister, Fairclough, Speed; Wallace, Whelan, Deane (Pemberton, 75). Substitutes not used: Radebe, Beeney (gk).

Manchester City (4-4-2): Coton, Hill (McMahon, 46), Vonk, I Brightwell, Phelan; Summerbee, Flitcroft, Lomas, Beagrie; Quinn, Mike (Griffiths, 66). Substitute not used: Dibble (gk).

Referee: T Holbrook (Walsall).

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