Football: Swales 'ready to sell' as Deane catches out City

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. .3

Wallace 11, Speed 22, Deane 85

Manchester City. .2

Sheron 54, Griffiths 60

Attendance: 33,821

MANCHESTER City fans had got their way, up to a point. Peter Swales was out, at least as chairman, and talking of selling his shares, but City's run of Premiership games without a win extended to nine, and with Niall Quinn out for months with a knee injury, the problems on the field are as oppressive as ever. After conceding two first- half goals, they almost saved the day, only to fall to a late blow by Brian Deane. Leeds' annoyed manager, Howard Wilkinson, said: 'I don't know how many times we've dug out a result in the last 10 minutes.' But at least the gap between Leeds and Manchester United was marginally narrower.

Yesterday, events beyond the control of those who actually kick the ball overshadowed everything. For Swales - who in 1973 said he would only stay if City were successful after two years - 20 seasons and 12 managers had disappeared with only one League Cup in the trophy cupboard, and still he stayed.

When he stepped down as chairman last Monday he and his partner, Stephen Boler, still had 60 per cent of the shares, effectively blocking Francis Lee's chance of taking control.

No one would condone the behaviour of threatening oafs who had tried to pay an unwanted visit to his 87-year-old mother in her nursing home, but you would have thought that two decades of hostility would have persuaded Swales to back down altogether.

The irony of the week's events was that they ended at Elland Road. Rumours that a prosperous Leeds fan, Paul Sykes, would be offered the City shares held by Swales and Boler had been circulating almost as quickly as those that Sheikh Mohammed - he of the big hand-out to Don Revie back in 1977 - was interested in taking over Leeds.

As for the side issue of the match itself, Quinn's absence was clearly going to be a hardship for City, one made more evident when Leeds smartly grasped an 11th-minute lead that reflected the current scoring form of Rod Wallace.

His sixth goal in six games came as Alan Kernaghan tried to chest down a free-kick into the City penalty area from Gordon Strachan, but lost control to Wallace, who drove in a well- directed shot.

City's difficulties were underlined by the fact that they had not achieved a significant shot by the time Leeds took their second goal, after 22 minutes. Again Strachan curled a free-kick just into the City penalty area, and while defenders lost concentration, David Wetherall gained possession, allowing Gary Speed to find room to turn on the ball and hit a high shot beyond Tony Coton.

City had no alternative but to concede numbers in midfield and at half-time send on Carl Griffiths in place of Fitzroy Simpson, forming a three-man attack. Although the change enlivened them enormously, they had to survive an alarming lob from Gary McAllister that Kernaghan headed off the line before David White slid his first serious shot narrowly wide. At least City were moving forward more positively, and in a six-minute period annulled their deficit.

Griffiths, yet to play a full match, contributed to both goals. The first, after 54 minutes, he instigated by pulling the ball back to Mike Sheron as he approached the penalty area. Sheron's instant shot flew beyond Mark Beeney, who had hardly composed himself before Chris Fairclough was exposing him to more danger with a back-header that Griffiths intercepted before comfortably beating the goalkeeper.

Leeds lived dangerously for the rest of the game, conceding ground and possession, but five minutes from the end their lively substitute, Noel Whelan, whipped the ball across the penalty area and Deane headed in from a yard.