Leeds United 2 Crystal Palace 1: Team sheet treachery ruins crucial win for Wise

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Leeds United manager Dennis Wise's immediate reaction after this crucial victory in his side's bid to avoid the embarrassment of third tier football next season was not delight or relief as would have been expected.

Instead burning rage was coursing through the veins of the former Chelsea player after he discovered a traitor in his ranks shortly before kick-off. "It was a fantastic result for us today, but, unfortunately, I am disappointed," Wise said.

"One player gave my team [sheet] to the opposition and I found that out and it disappoints me immensely. I told the players before and he won't be playing for this football club again. It hurts a lot and they responded to me and I'm chuffed to bits with them. The player also said a couple of other things and it's not acceptable."

The identity of the guilty party remains a mystery and several players admitted to being kept in the dark. Centre back Matthew Heath said after the game: "No one really knows anything about it at the moment so it's hard to comment. We'll find out in due course."

The Professional Footballers' Association chief executive, Gordon Taylor, yesterday weighed in with his views, warning all media to be cautious in their expected delving to find the perpetrator: "These are very serious accusations. It will impact very badly," said Taylor. "The problem now is that there will be a witch-hunt by the media. It's really too soon to comment before an inquiry. Experience tells me not to jump to conclusions until we know exactly what has happened."

The incident, the latest chapter in the somewhat astonishing recent history of this once illustrious club, took the attention of what in truth was an impressive Leeds display. Heath capitalised on slack marking to head Leeds in front in the first half. Then substitute Richard Cresswell made an immediate impression on his return to the side.

With his first contribution, he laid on a pass for Robbie Blake to score Leeds' second and effectively the winning goal. A first clean sheet in eight games was beyond Leeds, though, Crystal Palace forward Leon Cort ghosting in to head home a quickly taken Mark Kennedy free-kick to expose the defensive frailties that have been all too prominent this season.

A nervous denouement followed but Leeds held on.

Goals: Heath (27) 1-0; Blake (72) 2-0; Cort (83) 2-1.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Ankergren; Richardson, Heath, Rui Marques, Lewis (Armando Sa, 64); Blake (Foxe, 87), Nicholls, Douglas, Westlake; Moore, Kandol (Cresswell, 68). Substitutes not used: Sullivan (gk), Howson.

Crystal Palace (4-4-2): Kiraly; Butterfield (Spence, 73), Hudson, Cort, Borrowdale; Ifill (Freedman, 60), Lawrence, Fletcher, Kennedy; Scowcroft (Kuqi, 60), Morrison. Substitutes not used: Speroni (gk), Ward.

Referee: C Oliver (Northumberland).

Booked: Crystal Palace Butterfield.

Man of the match: Heath.

Attendance: 19,228.

Comments