Grayson now eyeing one over the eight
Leeds United 2 Stockport County 0
Sunday 06 September 2009
Mike Grella and Lubomir Michalik might not have been names synonymous with Leeds United's great history, but they are now after Simon Grayson's side recorded their eighth straight victory to rewrite the Elland Road record books.
This comfortable win, courtesy of first half goals from Grella and Michalik, secured Leeds' best start to a season, the previous best being in 1973 when the late Don Revie was in charge. Back then Leeds went on to claim their second championship title and on this evidence the current team could well finish top of their respective tree, albeit League One and not the old First Division.
There was a sense of anticipation among home supporters before kick off. The feeling of expectancy turned to relief when Grella took just seven minutes to put Leeds ahead. It was quite an impact from the American, who was given his full debut following a hamstring injury to leading forward Jermaine Beckford – and how he took his chance.
The move was instigated by some determined and skilful play from Jonny Howson in midfield. Bradley Johnson drove the play forward before Grella stepped in to take the initiative and curl a delightful shot beyond Owain Fon Williams in Stockport's goal and into the bottom corner. A rout was then expected but Leeds failed to capitalise on their dominance.
Robert Snodgrass and Grella both failed to connect with a loose ball flashed across County's goal after 26 minutes but, this apart, Leeds struggled to fashion good chances as Gary Ablett's men soaked up the pressure to remain in the contest. The sucker-punch for County came eight minutes before half-time though, when Williams spilled Snodgrass's free-kick under pressure from debutant Leigh Bromby, allowing Michalik, on his first start for nine months, to bundle the ball into an open goal and double his side's advantage.
Ablett's misery was compounded at half-time when referee Danny McDermid sent him to the stands following his aggressive reaction to Michalik's goal. It is no exaggeration to suggest the highlight of Ablett's afternoon was when Williams saved Snodgrass's penalty on the hour mark, but the day belonged to Leeds and Grayson following a 14th straight win at home, eclipsing another record set by Leeds under Revie in 1969.
Grayson said: "The overall performance wasn't that great but you can't be too critical. We have set new records and that is fantastic. The players have worked hard and deserve it. There have been some great players to play here down the years so it's a great achievement. Records are there to be broken and now we want to go on and extend these records if we can."
Ablett said: "The referee should have favoured the goalkeeper. There was contact on the goalkeeper and I was disappointed. I told him down the tunnel and was then informed I had been sent off by a third party."
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