Football: Whelan makes Palace pay

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The Independent Online
Crystal Palace. . . . .1

Leeds United. . . . . .2

BRIAN DEANE, Leeds' record pounds 2.7m signing, ought to be a worried man this morning. The injured striker's reputation for prolifigacy was put sharply into perspective last night by Noel Whelan, his 19- year-old deputy, whose third goal in three games secured Leeds their second win of the season at Selhurst Park.

Irish though he may sound, the teenage Whelan is, in fact, an England Youth international. If he produces many more performances like this one Howard Wilkinson, his manager, might feel encouraged to show Deane the door.

Lack of punch in attack has cost Leeds dearly - in more ways than one - these past two seasons. It seems they may have stumbled across the remedy without having had to fork out a penny. It is early days, of course, but Wilkinson conceded the signs were 'promising', not only with regard to Whelan but also Phil Masinga.

A Leeds away win, a rarity at the best of times, is a positive collector's piece when Crystal Palace provide the opposition. This was only Leeds' third win on their opponent's ground in 73 years.

Palace, returning to the scene of their opening-day disaster after two hard-earned away draws, did well to remain in contention after conceding a 17th-minute goal in which the Palace defenders did a fair impersonation of rabbits caught in a headlight as David White strolled among them to score as easy as you please - and with his left foot of all things.

Only Nigel Martyn's outstretched foot kept out a shot from Masinga and kept Palace in the game. But Alan Smith's team rallied gamely and Nigel Worthington was twice required to clear headers from Chris Coleman and Gareth Southgate off his goal line.

The left-back, Dean Gordon, was their driving force, and, after having a swirling 25-yarder pushed over the bar by John Lukic, he dragged Palace up by their bootlaces after 55 minutes when, taking a return pass from Ricky Newman, he scored after a storming run through the heart of the Leeds defence.

Palace's pleasure, however, was brief. Seven minutes later, Whelan headed home the winner after Martyn had parried another header from David Wetherall. It was not quite in the class of his stunning strike against Chelsea last Saturday, but it was good enough to make it seven points out of 12 in four matches with London opposition this season. Captial stuff indeed.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Martyn; Patterson, Shaw, Coleman, Gordon; Preece, Southgate, Rodger (Newman, h-t), Salako; Dyer, Armstrong. Substitutes not used: Cox, Wilmot (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Lukic; Kelly, Palmer, Wetherall, Worthington; White, McAllister, Speed, Wallace; Whelan, Masinga (Fairclough, 89). Substitutes not used: Strachan, Beeney (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

(Photograph omitted)