Stoke City 3 Leeds United 1: Stoke heap misery on Wise

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The Independent Online

The reality may be grim, but it is something that Leeds United's supporters are slowly beginning to accept. Their troubles continued at the Britannia Stadium yesterday as they sunk further into the relegation mire following defeat at Stoke City.

Hope is fast fading and for Leeds, 2007 is set to be the darkest chapter in their history if they drop out of the top two divisions of English football for the first time after they extended their winless run to eight matches.

"It is difficult to deal with but that is the way that it is," said Gustavo Poyet, the Leeds assistant manager, after Stoke were gifted two second half goals, one, an own-goal, and the other a defensive blunder. "It is hard when you concede goals that you shouldn't. The quality and ability is there from our players but we need to be mentally strong now. Everyone at the club is involved in this battle."

Stoke went ahead on 11 minutes through Mamady Sidibe after he converted a corner from the on-loan midfielder Lee Hendrie. Five minutes before the interval, Leeds found the equaliser. David Healy supplied the cross for Ian Moore to head home at the back post.

The home side retook the lead on 54 minutes, somewhat fortuitously as substitute Patrik Berger's 20-yard shot deflected off Ugo Ehiogu and pastTony Warner. It was hard to swallow for the Leeds players, who looked totally demoralised.

Their misery was complete on 76 minutes as a defensive mix-up between Ehiogu and Warner allowed in Stoke's Ricardo Fuller to tap into an empty goal.

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