Beckford keeps his cool to earn replay for Leeds
Tottenham Hotspur 2 Leeds United 2: Hero of Old Trafford proves his worth again with a brace of goals to punish Tottenham's sloppiness
Sunday 24 January 2010
From a Champions League semi-final nine years ago to League One, Leeds United have not got where they are now without some disastrous financial decisions along the way. Yet apparently sense has now set in, and the £1.5 million possible transfer fee they have forsaken this month for Jermaine Beckford, the scorer of both their goals last night, including holding his nerve for a penalty five minutes into stoppage time, looks like some of the best business in the club's recent history.
A replay at Elland Road next week, after all, will go some way to recouping that seven-figure sum they lost by not selling their prize asset to Newcastle United, among other suitors. It is a replay they earned thanks not only to Beckford's display of the arts of goal-poaching and penalty-taking – although it was a spot-kick that should not have been given after Michael Dawson just about won the ball fairly off Beckford – but a brilliant display from Casper Ankergren in the Leeds goal.
The Dane, once of Brondby, produced the saves in the first 20 minutes that ensured Beckford's goals were still relevant. In the opening phase, Tottenham were rampant, intent on putting Leeds in their place – which is second in League One – and were attempting to show they were not worried by the Yorkshiremen's giant-killing in round three.
That was three weeks ago, against Manchester United, when Beckford scored the only goal and then put in his transfer request. It was an ill-timed and hasty attempt by Beckford to cash in and he retracted the decision last week. All being well he will help his club out of the third tier of English football by the end of the season.
The key to Leeds' survival was three interventions by Ankergren. First up, the 30-year-old tipped a long-range dipping lob from Jermain Defoe over the crossbar after six minutes and then blocked a powerful shot from Niko Kranjcar 60 seconds later. When Defoe then stepped up to take a penalty, for a foul by Michael Doyle on Danny Rose after eight minutes, Ankergren could not have imagined Defoe would strike his effort so tamely. The goalkeeper guessed correctly, low to his left.
With their energy, Spurs were not feeling the effects of either the defeat at Liverpool on Wednesday – which dented their push for a Champions' League spot – or the effects of changes made by Harry Redknapp. With Defoe and Peter Crouch in attack the manager could rightfully imagine he had enough firepower to see off Leeds. Rose in for Wilson Palacios was not a game-changer.
Simon Grayson, the Leeds manager, was expecting an onslaught but he was hoping for his players to occasionally produce what they showed at Old Trafford. Robert Snodgrass almost delivered after 27 minutes but Heurelho Gomes dived full length to his left to save. The Brazilian repeated the feat from Beckford's first-time effort five minutes later.
However, three minutes before the interval Bale pulled his cross back for Kranjcar, the Croat's shot was blocked, but Crouch tucked away the rebound. Having gone close in the first half, Beckford equalised seven minutes after the interval. Spurs were sloppy and allowed a corner to bounce into the six-yard box and off Jermaine Jenas, with Beckford turning to squeeze his shot under Gomes. The momentum had always been with Spurs in what was a vintage cup tie, and Roman Pavlyuchenko seemed to have ensured their passage. Yet everything the Russian does seems destined to remain a footnote, despite scoring just four minutes after coming on, latching on to Defoe's through ball.
Instead of winding the clock down, Spurs allowed Leeds to push them back, leading to Beckford taking on Dawson and the penalty that Redknapp generously didn't quibble with. His complaint was more in his team lacking ruthlessness.
He said: "We should have settled it at the end and just kept the ball as we were looking to score. That's shutting games out and winning games. With a minute to go we should have closed it out. I'm disappointed to have thrown the game away."
Grayson felt Defoe's penalty miss was the turning point. He said: "Saving a penalty in the first 10 minutes was a great boost to us all and Darren showed good mental strength with his penalty as he has missed a few."
Referee: Alan Wiley
Man of the match: Ankergren
Match rating: 8/10
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