Football: Palmer saves day

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The Independent Online
West Ham United . . 0

Leeds United . . . .0

Attendance: 18,610

AMONG the more overlooked of the summer's expensive signings was Carlton Palmer. At pounds 2.6m, Leeds's new central defender managed to escape much of the attention which has been the fate of the Suttons and Klinsmanns of this world.

For all his lack of finesse during what is probably now a dead international career, Palmer may emerge as one of Howard Wilkinson's more astute buys. The rangy former apple of Graham Taylor's eye could never have a faultless game, but he saved a certain goal from Trevor Morley in an even first half with a perfectly timed tackle worthy of Upton Park's finest ever defender. And Bobby Moore never made surging upfield runs as effectively as Palmer did.

With six minutes left, Palmer's crunching tackle on substitute Mike Marsh left the Leeds defender hobbling but earned his side the draw they well deserved.

West Ham had momentum but few ideas. After 20 minutes of frenzied action, the tempo slackened and Leeds grew in stature. Palmer's solidity enabled the full-backs Gary Kelly and the newcomer Nigel Worthington, in for the injured Tony Dorigo, to push up. Worthington and Gordon Strachan combined well on the left and Dorigo may struggle to get his place back.

In midfield, Leeds still ooze sophistication, with Strachan, now 37, still jinking and passing to decisive effect and the Garys McAllister and Speed sending in damaging passes. Up front, Wilkinson kept faith with Brian Deane, who repaid the manager's confidence by blazing over from Rod Wallace's flick-on.

The second period was played almost entirely in West Ham's half, but Leeds could create only half-chances until, with a minute left, David White beat Ludek Miklosko to a loose ball but lifted his shot wide. 'You can't fault effort,' Harry Redknapp, the new West Ham manager following Billy Bonds's controversial departure, said of his game but lightweight team. 'I'll be given a civic reception if we're not relegated,' he joked before hinting at a couple of signings.

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