Captain Beckford rewards manager's gamble
Leeds United 2 Bristol Rovers 1
Monday 10 May 2010
Jermaine Beckford has been called many things during four goal-strewn years at Leeds United – not all of them flattering – but never "responsible". Except, perhaps, in the sense that many observers held him responsible for the fade-out which threatened to deny Leeds the promotion they finally achieved with a tortuous last-day triumph over Bristol Rovers.
In January, with Leeds basking in his decisive FA Cup goal at Manchester United and seemingly cruising to the League One title, Beckford demanded a transfer. Results deteriorated, his scoring rate slowed even after he agreed to stay, and manager Simon Grayson had relegated him to substitute for the four games before Saturday.
Recalled as captain for the injured Richard Naylor, Beckford performed like a man possessed in what will have been his farewell to Elland Road if reports of a summer switch to Everton prove correct. As well as showing unexpected maturity, he hit the winning goal, his 31st this season, demonstrating why Leeds will fight to keep him.
When their Ivorian winger Max Gradel was dismissed for butting Rovers' Daniel Jones with barely half an hour played, Beckford forcibly stopped him physically confronting referee Graham Salisbury. And after the 10 men tenaciously nullified Darryl Duffy's numbing opener with a fine equaliser by substitute Jonny Howson, the Londoner pounced to ensure Leeds avoided the play-offs. Grayson said: "My objective in giving him the captaincy was to give him added responsibility. I looked around and thought 'why not Jermaine?' I felt the responsibility might give him an extra spring in his step. I thought it worked. As he led out the team I noticed he was very vocal, which isn't his usual manner. He was also the one trying to get Max off, which wasn't an easy situation. He led by example, even when he had to drop to left midfield.
"Jermaine's out of contract now but if we can offer him the right deal, I'd love him to stay. If you're competing against Premier League clubs, it's a different ball game, but we'll do as much as we can. We offered him contracts last summer because we know what he can do. If he moves on, he'll go with my best wishes. If he stays then I have one hell of a player on my hands.
"We turned down good money for him in January because we wanted to win promotion. His goals have proved that was the right decision. I thought he was badly advised then. We had a chat and tried to resolve it but that wasn't possible.
"Someone who can score you 30 goals a season is a rare commodity. I'm sure he wants to be tested at the next level. The proof will be in the pudding as to whether Jermaine or any of the players can achieve that."
Leeds United (4-4-2): Higgs; A Hughes, Bromby, Collins, Lowry (Howson, 54); Gradel, Kilkenny, Doyle, Johnson; Beckford (Snodgrass, 90), Becchio (Watt, 88). Substitutes not used: Ankergren (gk), Grella, McSheffrey, Michalik.
Bristol Rovers (4-4-2): Andersen; Regan, Coles, Anthony, Jones; Reece (Williams, 72), Lines, Campbell, J Hughes; Kuffour, Duffy (Richards, 79). Substitutes not used: Evans (gk), Wright, Blizzard, Clough, Swallow.
Referee: G Salisbury (Lancashire).
Booked: Leeds Doyle, Becchio. Bristol Rovers Jones, Duffy. Sent off: Leeds Gradel.
Man of the match: Beckford.
Latest in Sport
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao live: Mayweather puts on defensive masterclass to win by unanimous decision
What time does Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao begin on Sky Sports Box Office?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does the fight start and what channel is it on?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Only 132 pubs in the United Kingdom will show the fight - so where can you watch it?
- 1 Which country would be hardest to invade?
- 3 The man who filmed the Freddie Gray video has been arrested at gunpoint
- 4 How the language you speak changes your view of the world
- 5 Royal baby girl born: Duchess of Cambridge's second child will be a princess thanks to Queen
Over 50,000 families shipped out of London boroughs in the past three years due to welfare cuts and soaring rents
EU asylum policy is 'a direct threat to our civilisation', says Nigel Farage
Indonesia executions live: 'Hysterical' families heard prisoners being shot dead by firing squad
The Rothschild Libel: Why has it taken 200 years for an anti-Semitic slur that emerged from the Battle of Waterloo to be dismissed?
General Election 2015: SNP and its activists 'openly racist' towards the English, Farage says
EU exit would hit UK economy much harder than neighbouring countries, study finds