Football: Shaken Leeds in credit

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. . .0

Norwich City. . .2

(Leeds win 4-3 on aggregate)

ANY final between Leeds and Manchester United is calculated to set pulses racing, and the FA Youth Cup double-header between the Roses rivals next month will be no exception.

Nevertheless, Leeds made hard work of their semi-final second leg at Elland Road last night. Despite starting with a three-goal advantage, and dominating the match, they had to endure a nerve-racking second half after Norwich, counter-attacking cleverly, had hit them with two goals before half-time.

Whereas Old Trafford currently houses the trophy, Leeds have never previously progressed beyond the quarter-final stage, even when the likes of Hunter, Reaney, Cooper, Greenhoff and Madeley emerged together. But under the guidance of the club's former centre-half Paul Hart, Leeds' juniors have scored freely in league and cup.

Four of Hart's squad - Rob Bowman, Mark Tinkler, Jamie Forrester and Kevin Sharp - have already appeared in the Premier League, and first-team calls for the latter pair meant they missed last Friday's first leg and started the second on the bench. Despite going a goal down at Carrow Road, Leeds built a 4-1 lead to encourage a respectable turn-out of 7,054.

Norwich soon disabused them of any complacency, taking an 11th-minute lead. Darren Eadie had already achieved what Lee Sharpe failed to do at senior level by getting goal-side of Bowman in the seventh minute. He rolled his shot tamely at Paul Pettinger but when Jamie Cureton's low cross gave him a second chance, Eadie was more ruthless.

Leeds stuck admirably to their close-passing game and two headers by Tinkler forced a fine double save from Andy Marshall before Norwich struck again in the 41st minute. Eadie was the provider, Ade Akinbiyi supplying the side-footed finish from point-blank range.

Forrester and Sharp, the two FA National School graduates signed by Howard Wilkinson from the French club, Auxerre, joined the fray after the interval. Leeds continued to make most of the running and Noel Whelan dragged his shot wide after Mark Ford had sent him clear in the 50th minute.

When Whelan's 64th-minute drive hit the post and Mark Tobin skied the rebound into the Kop, Leeds may have begun to fear the worst. Norwich needed to score only once more to force extra time and the touchline trickery of Eadie and pace of Akinbiyi always offered hope of a breakaway goal which, in spite of a few close calls, did not come.

Leeds United: Pettinger; Couzens, Oliver, Daly, Bowman, Byrne (Sharp, h/t), Tinkler, Ford, Whelan, Tobin, Lynam (Forrester, h/t).

Norwich City: Marshall; Snowling, Aldbury, Carey, Liffen, Mellon, Ewins, Cureton (Simpson, 79), Akinbiyi, Roberts, Eadie. Subsstitute not used: Mills.

Referee: I Cruikshanks (Hartlepool).

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