Lita sparks Clark's party while Bates moves nearer exit

Leeds United 0 Birmingham City 1

elland road

As is so often the way with Leeds United, events at Elland Road were overshadowed by dealings off the pitch despite the home side falling to a demoralising home defeat to struggling Birmingham City.

With the United chairman Ken Bates confirming that a takeover by Bahrain-based investment bank GFH is likely to happen within a matter of days, Leeds fans could be forgiven for yet again daring to envisage a brighter future.

But if the mood in the stands has improved because Bates's departure may be imminent, on the pitch the team itself remains very much a work in progress was clearly evident during a dour performance which will have absolutely done nothing to revive Leeds' hopes of a return to the Premier League this season.

In truth, neither side deserved to win a disappointing match, but Birmingham triumphed thanks to a remarkable goal powered in by Leroy Lita from a distance of more than 30 yards in the 76th minute.

It was the perfect gift for Lee Clark, the Birmingham manager, on his 40th birthday and set the tone for the party at his Midlands home last night.

Clark said: "My birthday seems a lot sweeter now. I've got my family and friends coming down tonight and they wanted us to get a good result. They didn't want a soppy-faced 40-year-old hanging around the party."

Birmingham were content to rely on solid defence and to play on the break and manager Clark's tactics almost worked in the 10th minute when the defender Curtis Davies headed just wide from a tempting Nathan Redmond cross.

For Leeds, Rodolph Austin's strong drive was beaten away well by England goalkeeper Jack Butland on the half-hour, but a lack of fire-power, which has seen them have fewer attempts on goal than any other team in the Championship, remains a major concern for the Yorkshire club.

Neil Warnock, the Leeds manager, will point to a recent run of six unbeaten league games and a spot just outside the play-off positions and his side did at least show a renewed urgency in the second-half.

After 70 minutes El-Hadji Diouf went close and the former Liverpool striker saw his goal- bound header from Michael Tonge's superb right-wing cross saved spectacularly by Butland.

But it was Lita who provided Leeds fans with the perfect excuse to descend back into despondency when he decided the match from long range.

His delighted manager Clark said: "I was shouting for him to pass, but it was a goal once it left his foot. It went like a rocket. I'm delighted because getting any result here is difficult because Neil Warnock's teams play in-your-face football.

"We tried to nullify the effect of the crowd by being in control of the match and keeping possession. But they came at us more in the second-half and we defended well.

"Jack Butland made a good save, but we expect that of him because he's that good. It was run-of-the-mill stuff for him."

For Warnock, this was further evidence that he needs at least two new players, which explains why he wants the takeover to go through as soon as possible. But he was in a philosophical mood after the match: "That's football. We didn't deserve to lose, but they got a world-beater of a goal and it won them the game.

"The players didn't expect him to shoot from there, but they should have done.

"The league is such that you will get beat when fans expect you to win and win games when nobody expects you to win. It's up and down.

"I can't fault my players. I thought they gave everything, although we may not be good enough in certain areas.

"We need a bit of help now. Hopefully the takeover will come to the fore shortly and we can bring in a couple of players."

Leeds (4-4-2): Kenny; Byram, Pearce, Lees (White, 82), Peltier; Norris (Hall, 82), Tonge, Austin, Pugh; Becchio; Diouf.

Birmingham (4-4-2): Butland; Robinson, Davies, Caldwell, Murphy; Redmond (Burke, 67), Morrison, Mullins, Elliott; Lita, King (Spector, 90).

Referee Graham Salisbury.

Man of the match King (Birmingham).

Match rating 5/10.

Attendance 22,152.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before