Football: Leeds revival slowed by lack of urgency: Rocastle enjoys rare moment in the limelight

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The Independent Online
Ipswich Town. . .0

Leeds United. . .0

MANCHESTER UNITED'S comforting weekend was completed yesterday when Leeds United's run of five Premiership wins ended with a dreary performance at Portman Road that offered little threat to the leaders.

Revival time for Leeds had already been slightly upset by their Coca-Cola Cup defeat by Sunderland. Who knows, if Howard Wilkinson is offered the England job, he may accept only if such encumbrances are removed. For the moment, though, his task, and that of his pursuers, is to see that United are not handed the Premiership gift-wrapped before Christmas.

Ipswich's loss through injury of Ian Marshall and Geraint Williams came as a considerable blow that Leeds failed to see as a sign of weakness. Instead, they chose to knock long balls aimlessly while at the same time taking risks in defence.

The whole game was often compressed into the centre of the field and no one seemed prepared to broaden the horizons. David Rocastle, making only his 12th start for Leeds, made attempts to avoid the obvious but to no avail.

John Wark eventually thought he had seen enough of the frustration and tore through the Leeds defence as fast as his old legs could carry him but when Chris Kiwomya's centre arrived he could only head directly at Mark Beeney. Perhaps that was justice since David Linighan had earlier handled in the Ipswich penalty area out of sight of the referee.

When Gary McAllister began to move forward and spread some ambitious long passes to the wings, the match as a whole picked up. Rocastle took the cue and his good touch led to Rod Wallace almost making scoring contact with the final ball across the penalty area before McAllister's delightful control out on the left side allowed him to centre dangerously. David Wetherell headed in but Brian Deane was offside.

Stuart Slater's home debut for Ipswich was unspectacular. Indeed he should have brought them victory when clear in front of Beeney but took an age to decide what to do by which time the goalkeeper had covered the situation.

Any danger of a positive outcome ended when Deane was brought down on the edge of the area by Neil Thompson but Tony Dorigo hit the free-kick against the wall.

Ipswich Town (4-4-2): Forrest; Stockwell, Whelan, Linighan, Thompson; Palmer, Wark (Whitton, 80), Milton, Mason; Kiwomya, Slater. Substitutes not used: Baker (gk), Yallop.

Leeds United (4-1-3-2): Beeney; Kelly, Newsome, Wetherell, Dorigo; Fairclough; Rocastle (Strandli, 82), McAllister, Speed; Deane, Wallace. Substitutes not used: Lukic (gk), Batty.

Referee: M Bodenham (Looe).