Leeds United 0 Southampton 3: Ferret wrestling and poor marking hit Leeds

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The Independent Football

Blame it on the ferrets. According to his column in Saturday's programme, Ken Bates, the Leeds United chairman, has been in correspondence with one Kevin Wilson, the Grand Master of the Ferrets at the Yorkshire Federation of Ferret Wrestlers. Wilson took offence at Bates' recent contention that the twin delights of Yorkshire puddings and ferrets were not enough, in themselves, to attract top-class players to Elland Road.

Now Bates stands corrected but it has given him a new theory on dwindling attendances - namely that Leeds fans are spending their weekends watching ferrets rather than football.

Others would conclude that ticket prices starting at £26 for adults have more to do with it, not to mention the six home League defeats this season.

The 19,000 or so die-hard Leeds fans who did turn up had to watch a painful final 15 minutes with the only remaining incentive for the players being to convince Dennis Wise, the manager, they had not "jacked it in".

Wise drew small consolation by insisting, with some justification, that until midway through the second half when Rudi Skacel supplemented Grzegorz Rasiak's opener for Southampton, Leeds had actually been the better side.

Nevertheless, sub-standard defending saw Skacel presented with the freedom of Elland Road to score, while Rasiak's second was a free header from a corner.

Wise blamed "silly errors" and his players' "positional sense being a bit skew-whiff" - a polite way of saying he has not yet managed to instil in his new team the art of defending.

In such circumstances, come the next home game, perhaps a few more Leeds fans will decided to sample an afternoon of ferret wrestling instead.

Goals: Rasiak (29) 0-1; Skacel (69) 0-2; Rasiak (75) 0-3.

Leeds United (4-3-1-2): Stack; Foxe, Heath, Kilgallon, Crainey; Douglas, Derry, Lewis (Beckford, 70); Blake; Horsfield (Moore, 55), Healy. Substitutes not used: Warner (gk), Westlake, Johnson.

Southampton (4-4-2): Davis; Makin, Lundekvam, Baird, Bale; Surman, Wright, Pele, Skacel; Rasiak (McGoldrick, 81), Wright-Phillips (Viafara, 64). Substitutes not used: Bialkowski (gk), Ostlund, Licka.

Referee: S Mathieson (Cheshire).

Booked: Southampton Wright-Phillips.

Man of the match: Pele.

Attendance: 19,647.

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