Football: Leeds United 0 Derby County 0 - Leeds' lack of firepower exposed
Monday 09 August 1999
His team had quite a dangerous one until Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink's grubby departure left them with only the lightweight, unproven Michael Bridges and Alan Smith, neither of whom, according to O'Leary, were fully fit.
Leeds missed Hasselbaink's niggly, muscular aggression terribly. Bridges, pounds 5 from Sunderland, but overshadowed last season by Niall Quinn, was a peripheral influence, despite O'Leary's praise for some "lovely touches", while Derby's Spencer Prior and Jacob Laursen had far too much strength and guile for Smith.
It had all began so well. An impressive statue of Billy Bremner was unveiled outside the ground, while inside, in a private ceremony, the old warhorse's ashes were scattered on the Elland Road pitch. Even the cloudy humidity which ensured there would be no traditional first-day- of-the-season sunshine, could not assuage the crowd's not entirely unjustified optimism that O'Leary's young team of great, white-shirted hopes might just be serious title contenders. Then, the match began.
At the end of this mean-spirited, hard-fought dour draw, where Nigel Martyn was simply an interested bystander, the optimism had all but evaporated. "Look," said O'Leary, "people are getting carried away. I don't think even Brian Clough could have won the title in his first year."
So bereft of striking firepower were Leeds that their only real chance was a gift from Derby's dozing Rory Delap, whose sloppy back-pass put Harry Kewell through on Mart Poom. Kewell froze and Poom collected with ease. Derby, often defending with eight men behind the ball, restricted Leeds to long-range drives from Lee Bowyer and the impressive Danny Mills, both of which Poom fumbled, and a crafty Ian Harte free-kick which whistled past the left-hand post.
The Derby manager, Jim Smith, rightly praised his team's "work-rate, endeavour and aggression", before explaining that Dean Sturridge had played with an injured hamstring and had been substituted at half-time for being "frightened". They stuck to their grim task with relish, especially Seth Johnson, a pounds 3m signing from Crewe, whose shocking lunge through Lee Bowyer was the only unquestionable caution in a staccato contest which somehow saw eight.
O'Leary can take heart from Mills's bright debut and a reasonably solid defence. "At least we didn't lose," he shrugged. True, but the lingering suspicion is that his team had lost two points and Derby County had proven one.
Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn, Mills, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte; Bowyer, Batty, Hopkin, Kewell; Bridges, Smith (McPhail, 52). Substitutes not used: Haaland, Robinson (gk), Hiden, Duberry.
Derby County (5-3-2): Poom; Carbonari, Laursen, Prior, Dorigo, Delap; Powell, Johnson, Eranio (Borbokis, 77); Baiano (Beck, 67), Sturridge (Burton, h-t). Substitutes not used: Schnoor, Hoult (gk).
Referee: G Barber (Tring). Bookings: Leeds: Batty, Kewell, Bowyer. Derby: Dorigo, Johnson, Powell, Delap, Eranio
Man of the match: Mills.
Geoffrey Macnab reviews American Hustle, also starring Christian Bale and Bradley Cooper
newsFormer soldier taped 33 of the animals to the floor and then stamped on them one by one
Michelle Nijhuis' daughter insists (s)he is, and she learnt a valuable lesson on gender in books
news Opponents claim it would stop performers such as Beyonce and Madonna appearing on TV
It takes a platoon of chefs, litres of brandy and rum, and almost 100kg of dried fruit
food + drink
Latest in Sport
- 1 America's 'virgin births'? One in 200 mothers 'became pregnant without having sex'
- 2 Sun will 'flip upside down' within weeks, says Nasa
- 3 Christmas comes early: Justin Bieber is 'retiring from music'
- 4 Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
- 5 Children evacuated from swimming pool after prosthetic leg mistaken for paedophile
Exclusive: Young people ‘want UK to stay in Europe’: Four in 10 adults aged 18 to 24 are ‘firmly in favour’ of membership, poll shows
Tom Daley ‘is gay because his father died’ says UK evangelist
Iain Duncan Smith leaves Commons food banks debate early
Kiss and yell: Italian protester charged with sexual assault after kissing riot police officer
PM denies two child limit for benefits is part of Tory welfare policy
Anachronistic and iniquitous, grammar schools are a blot on the British education system
£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: QA .NET Agile UNIX LIN...
£35000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# ASP.NET SQL Develop...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET SQL Developer (Software Developer, Softw...
£500 - £650 per day: Harrington Starr: Excellent opportunity for Murex Subject...