Football: Warhurst leads Palace coup

Leeds United 0 Crystal Palace 2 Warhurst 22, Lombardo 51 Atten dance: 29,076
Click to follow
The Independent Online
Suddenly, the idea that Leeds are about to re-emerge as a force in the land does not seem quite so convincing. No sooner had George Graham begun crowing about a new dawn of successful, attacking football at Elland Road than he was shaken from his perch by a bold and assertive Palace for whom Paul Warhurst and Attilio Lombardo secured the points with a goal in each half.

Palace had the look of the winners, testing Nigel Martyn's alertness twice in the opening 90 seconds through Dean Gordon's dipping cross and Simon Rodger's low drive, both of which required decisive action by the Leeds goalkeeper.

Steve Coppell's side played with more confidence than might have been expected after a defeat at home to Barnsley and with discipline, too, although not of the kind that referee David Rennie was looking for. David Tuttle, Marc Edworthy, Bruce Dyer and Andy Linighan were all cautioned.

With Edworthy holding things together impressively, almost in a sweeper's role, Palace defended with efficiency and attacked with penetration. It was no surprise when they took the lead during a phase in which Leeds were unable to escape their own half.

Receiving the ball from Lombardo, Gordon raced away along the left flank and delivered a splendid cross that found Warhurst moving in unmarked behind Robert Molenaar. The former Blackburn striker placed his header expertly.

The goal brought Leeds out of their shell and they at least ended the first half strongly, with Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink offering the greatest threat to Palace security, shooting just over the top from a free-kick on the right and then bringing a useful save from Kevin Miller after powering past Linighan.

But Palace responded by doubling their advantage within six minutes of the second half. Warhurst deftly nodded the ball into the path of Lombardo at the edge of the Leeds penalty area and the Italian accepted the invitation clinically, bursting between two defenders before rounding Martyn for his second goal in three matches.

Leeds were twice thwarted by the bravery of Miller, who denied Rod Wallace and Harry Kewell to preserve a scoreline that, as Graham acknowledged, was thoroughly justified. "After two good performances this was very disappointing," Graham said, "but we were beaten by the better side."

Comments