Football: Whelan's home comforts

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The Independent Online
Leeds United. . . . . . . . . . . .2 Leicester City. . . . . . . . . . .1 Leeds, still scouring the international transfer market for a proven goalscorer, again relied on the homebred talents of Noel Whelan at Elland Road last night. The 19-year-old striker's 67th minute goal, his sixth of the season, brought a welcome three points.

Before this, Leeds had won only once in six weeks, dispelling the assumption that their season would take off following the home victory over Manchester United on 11 September. Mindful of this, perhaps, they seemed more than a little anxious to assert themselves against one of the teams struggling to keep out of danger at the foot of the table.

Gary McAllister's goal ten minutes before half time, therefore, brought tangible relief. It was a beautifully executed strike by the Leeds captain, fashioned from nothing after Nicky Mohan had headed the ball out of the penalty area.

Taking the ball on his chest, McAllister threaded a path into the penalty area, swaying past Simon Grayson, the right back, and curling a delightful shot around another defender and beyond goalkeeper Gavin Ward's reach inside the far post.

Until then, Leeds had held the balance of play and created the majority of openings, only to snatch at their chances. Rod Wallace, none the less, could count himself a shade unlucky not to have beaten McAllister to first on the scoresheet, skimming the bar with one powerful volley, hitting a post with another shot. But Gary Speed's failure to test Ward when he ran cleverly into space to meet Tony Dorigo's cross was a more accurate indicator of Leeds' state of mind.

'We had to have words at half time,' Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, said afterwards. 'We did better after that, playing with less anxiety.'

Even so, they appeared to need Leicester to equalise before they could raise their game, Mark Blake levelling matters eight minutes into the second half.

The Leeds response was not long coming after that. Whelan, who had seen one effort desperately punched away by Ward after rebounding off the bar and the body of Mohan, met another perfectly flighted Dorigo cross with a powerful header which again connected with the woodwork but bounced over the line.

Leicester had been looking for a playmaker of similar stature to McAllister ever since the Scot left them for Leeds in 1990 and feel they may have found one in Mark Draper, their pounds 1.25m capture from Notts County.

Draper, indeed, set up their equaliser, supplying an expertly weighted pass from which Blake, bursting through the Leeds rearguard, chipped the ball deftly over Lukic as the goalkeeper rushed off his line.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Lukic; Kelly, Palmer, Wetherall, Dorigo; Wallace, McAllister, Speed, Worthington; Whelan, Deane. Substitutes not used: Pemberton, Masinga, Beeney (gk).

Leicester City (4-4-2): Ward; Grayson, Mohan, Whitlow, Lewis; Carr, Draper, Blake (Oldfield, 82), Philpot (Lowe, 82); Joachim, Roberts. Substitute not used: Poole (gk).

Referee: K Burge (Tonypandy).