Football: Leeds saved by Moses' mistake

Leeds United 2 Hasselbaink 20, Moses og 80 Barnsley 1 Hristov 44 Attendance: 37,749
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The Independent Online
IT WAS perhaps only to be expected, given the events at Stansted Airport in the early hours of Tuesday morning, but Leeds were not a settled side at Elland Road yesterday. For much of the first half they played with a composure which belied their close shave with catastrophe. When it came to the finishing department, though, George Graham's men were afflicted by jitters in a Yorkshire derby they ought to have won with ease.

It was only fitting, considering the catalogue of missed chances, that the game should be won for them by an opposition player. In attempting to clear Ian Harte's left-wing corner, with 11 minutes remaining and a vital point all but in the bag, Adrian Moses succeeded only in heading past his own goalkeeper.

It could prove to be a costly own goal for Barnsley, whose revival has been suddenly struck by points failure. Yesterday's was their third defeat in eight days. They do not need snookers yet, though the name of Steve Davis did appear on their team-sheet - mistakenly so, the celebrated potter having been otherwise engaged and the famously named central defender having graduated from Oakwell to Oxford.

But Danny Wilson is fast approaching the time when he needs players of any name. Already missing the suspended trio sent off against Liverpool last week, the Barnsley manager watched in frustration as another of his men saw red yesterday.

The cause was already lost, with injury time on the clock, when Georgi Hristov chose to harangue a linesman. A yellow card did not persuade the Macedonian to bite his tongue. He was duly dismissed by Keith Burge, having apparently persisted with his pointless protests.

"A stupid sending off," Wilson lamented. "Georgi says he swore at the linesman the first time but just looked at him the second time. I don't know what he was sent off for because the referee won't see me. But I'm not making any excuses. We didn't deserve anything today. We had our backside kicked for 45 minutes."

That much was true. In breaking with pace and precision, the razor-sharp Harry Kewell and Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink cut Barnsley to ribbons. In front of goal, though, they were decidedly blunt. Each was denied by the brilliant David Watson before the break, but Hasselbaink dragged the ball across the face of the gaping Barnsley goal when his attacking accomplice left him with only the target to hit.

Hasselbaink did beat Watson in the 19th minute, stretching to head his 17th goal of the season after David Wetherall caught the Barnsley defence playing set-piece statues from Bruno Ribeiro's right-wing corner. Leeds, though, did not even lead at the break. Barnsley, having ridden their luck, hit on the break two minutes before the interval. Darren Barnard hoisted a ball from deep on the left and Hristov, ghosting behind Robert Molenaar on the far side of the penalty area, scored with a side-footed volley.

Deprived of Ribeiro's driving midfield presence, Leeds were not the same attacking force after the break. They did, though, create two clear chances. First Stephen McPhail, the half-time replacement for the injured Ribeiro, failed to connect when the colliding Chris Morgan and Nicky Eaden left the teenager with only Watson to beat. Then Gunnar Halle, put clear by Kewell, was defied by the diving Barnsley goalkeeper.

However, Watson was powerless when Moses made his decisive, if unwitting, contribution. It left Barnsley still in the mire in the Premiership's nether region and George Graham's men, in fourth place, contemplating - if rather nervously for the time being - midweek trips to Europe next season. "It's been quite a traumatic week for the boys," the Leeds manager said. "The way they've handled it has been tremendous."