Football: O'Leary's reign starts with a strike of luck

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Leeds United 1 Bradford City 0

YEARS OF playing at the highest level and an apprenticeship at the feet of a master like George Graham were the management qualities David O'Leary cited when he finally accepted the job at Leeds on Sunday.

The one attribute he did not mention was luck, but that was what carried Leeds through to the fourth round of the Worthington Cup in a derby dominated for long spells by their First Division neighbours.

Ironically, they now meet Leicester City, whose Martin O'Neill was Leeds' own first choice as manager.

"We never do well against Leicester. I hope our luck changes," was O'Leary's response.

Last night's stroke of luck arrived in the 28th minute when their Australian striker Harry Kewell, who had not scored for his club since April, hit a speculative shot from more than 20 yards, and his side's first of the match.

Gary Walsh seemed to have it covered until it deflected off Gareth Whalley into the net.

Until then Bradford had dominated, with their captain, Stuart McCall, outstanding in midfield and their wingers, Isiah Rankin and Peter Beagrie, getting behind Leeds' big central defenders with some ease.

Leeds' 19-year-old goalkeeper, Paul Robinson, standing in for the injured Nigel Martyn, denied Rankin with his legs and Gunnar Halle cleared a Lee Mills effort off the line.

Kewell's goal barely ruffled Bradford's composure, but if O'Leary has learned anything from Graham it is how to sit on a one-goal lead, and the longer Bradford's possession failed to produce results, the more they resorted to long balls which the Leeds defenders gratefully swallowed.

It was the Premiership side which came closest to scoring in a tight second half when Lee Bowyer went down in the penalty area under a challenge from Walsh, but the referee saw it as a dive for which Bowyer was booked.

"Our goal was lucky but it was a blatant penalty," said O'Leary. "We know we can play better than this, but Bradford were on a high and had nothing to lose and I am delighted with the result."

Paul Jewell, the Bradford manager, said: "We were the better side in the first half but a bit of luck changes cup games. I didn't see Leeds scoring otherwise. We matched them all over the pitch for 90 minutes although we lacked the cutting edge up front."

Leeds United (5-3-2): Robinson; Halle, Radebe, Molenaar, Woodgate, Granville; Hopkin, Bowyer, McPhail; Hasselbaink, Kewell. Substitutes not used: Haaland, Wetherall, Wijnhard, Santos (gk), Harte.

Bradford City (4-4-2): Walsh; Todd, Dreyer (Lawrence, 83), Moore, Jacobs; Blake, McCall, Whalley, Beagrie; Mills, Rankin (Watson, 75). Substitutes not used: Prudoe (gk), O'Brien, Pepper.

Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield).

n Two goals from Neal Ardley put Wimbledon through to the fourth round of the Worthington Cup last night. Chris Marsden put Birmingham City ahead early in the game, but Robbie Earle set up the equaliser for Ardley and then the Jamaican international created another goal for Ardley which sealed a 2-1 win. Wimbledon are also set to complete the pounds 2m signing of the Port Vale winger, Gareth Ainsworth, today.