Dennis Wise would not realistically have expected Leeds United to take him to his sixth FA Cup final. But the winning captain from the competition's last Wembley showpiece barely even saw any backbone, with West Bromwich Albion's complacency the only threat to their sixth successive home victory.
Leeds created decent chances, but for all the "names'' on their team-sheet, they look a relegation-haunted side. "The first half let us down," said Wise. "We didn't start right and I gave them some right stick at half-time."
Every Albion attack carried a threat and the respite from Robbie Elliott's goal-line clearance from Jason Koumas on six minutes was brief. Leeds dealt poorly with Neil Clement's corner and Paul McShane side-footed his first Albion goal.
After Diomansy Kamara had dispossessed Elliott and blazed wide, clear daylight emerged on the quarter-hour thanks to defending that prematurely ages managers even as baby-faced as Wise. Matt Heath horribly misjudged Russell Hoult's drop-kick, leaving John Hartson to out-muscle him and drive through the legs of Neil Sullivan. Wise made a triple half-time substitution, including new signings Tore Andre Flo and Miguel Armando Sa, but is tiring of what he calls "entertaining defeats".
Richard Chaplow was denied by Sullivan before Kamara hit the bar from McShane's excellent marauding and Flo and Shaun Derry further tested Hoult. Kevin Phillips then ran in number three and a gung-ho contest was deep in stoppage-time when Leeds got lucky with Paul Robinson's in-off as Flo challenged.
"We have no problems at home, although we can be too open at times," said the Albion manager, Tony Mowbray.Reuse content