Bridges in full flight as Leeds are denied

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The more you see of Leeds United the more your admiration grows for this remarkable young side. Yesterday they were behind three times and it still required a goal in stoppage time to hold them to a breathless draw. If only football was always played at this rarefied level.

The more you see of Leeds United the more your admiration grows for this remarkable young side. Yesterday they were behind three times and it still required a goal in stoppage time to hold them to a breathless draw. If only football was always played at this rarefied level.

David Weir provided the denouement in an unpredictable tale when he rose to head in David Unsworth's free-kick. As the ball entered the net via the post, Leeds record run of 10 successive victories came to an end, although they remain top of the Premiership and look likelier to stay there almost with every outing.

Particularly as Michael Bridges blossoms as a striker. The 21-year-old looked expensive when David O'Leary paid Sunderland £5.5m for him, but he has become the focal point of an attack that appears to have endless options. Yesterday, he struck twice to take his tally for the season to nine.

The first half alone was as good a piece of entertainment as you could expect from football. Five goals, two clearances off the line and a sequence of near misses and pieces of invention - the impresario and Everton's would-be owner Bill Kenwright, must have wished he could have transferred the whole production to the West End.

Within a minute a shot from John Collins grazed a Leeds post, but if that was only a near-miss, Goodison needed to wait until the fifth minute for the real thing. Collins slipped a pass to Kevin Campbell, who looked up to assess where Nigel Martyn was and then curled a shot of masterful precision into the top corner.

First blow to Everton, but Leeds were so dangerous the scoreline was unlikely to remain static, and after 13 minutes they equalised. Harry Kewell left Weir lunging at thin air, whipped in a low cross and, after Alan Smith had swung and missed, Bridges nipped in behind him.

The pattern had been set for a shoot-out. Campbell, finishing with the panache of a French polisher, made it 2-1 when he was put clear by Don Hutchison and chipped over Martyn and Kewell restored parity from wide on the left and 40 yards out. If it was intentional it was magnificent but the likelihood was it was a miscued cross.

If there was some doubt about the quality of that goal, there was absolutely none about Everton's third: it was as scruffy as a picture portfolio of Neville Southall's nights out. Not that the home side were complaining as the ball bounced off Nick Barmby and Jonathon Woodgate before landing invitingly for Hutchison.

Just about the only ingredient missing from that half was controversy, and that arrived after 57 minutes when Hutchison hared after a long ball only to be tripped by Lucas Radebe. the referee waved play on - to the fury of Walter Smith, whose deadpan mask slipped so much he had to coaxed back into the technical area.

How vital that moment was became apparent when Leeds scored twice in four minutes. The first, after 68 minutes, was arguably the best of the game as Bridges turned 25 yards out and, with an elegant swing of his right foot, delicately lobbed it over Paul Gerrard. Worse was to follow for Everton when Woodgate rose above his markers to head in Ian Harte's corner.

It appeared to be Leeds' day until Weir intervened in stoppage time. "A terrific game," was Smith's verdict and one that will be shared by anyone who saw it.

Goals: Campbell (4) 1-0; Bridges (13) 1-1; Campbell (28) 2-1; Kewell (34) 2-2; Hutchison (37) 3-2; Bridges (68) 3-3; Woodgate (72) 3-4; Weir (90) 4-4.

Everton (4-4-2): Gerrard; Weir, Watson, Gough, Ball (Johnson, 77); Barmby, Collins, Gemmill (Pembridge, 27), Unsworth; Hutchison, Campbell. Substitutes not used: Cadamarteri, Ward, Simonsen (gk).

Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Kelly, Woodgate, Radebe, Harte; Bowyer, McPhail, Batty, Kewell; Bridges, Smith (Huckerby, 67). Substitutes not used: Hopkin, Haaland, Mills, Robinson (gk).

Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury).

Man of the match: Bridges.

Attendance: 37,355.

Comments