Leeds at a loss

Leeds United 0 Middlesbrough 1 Kavanagh 4 pen Attendance: 31,778
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The Independent Online
MORE GLOOM for Leeds, whose attempt to salvage some Premiership pride from the wreckage of their Cup campaigns came to nothing against Bryan Robson's team, whose first away victory in the league since mid- October and their first win since December, has probably removed any lingering doubts about their staying in the top division.

Leeds went behind to a penalty after only three minutes, lost their goalkeeper at half-time and missed a penalty of their own moments into the second half. Lucas Radebe, whose foul on Nick Barmby allowed Graham Kavanagh to stroke home the only goal, redeemed himself with a highly competent performance when he took John Lukic's place in goal.

As Lukic went to hospital with concussion after a 36th-minute collision with John Hendrie, Boro attacked Radebe but found he had not forgotten his early life as a goalkeeper in South Africa. Had Gary McAllister not squandered the chance to equalise, sending his penalty over the bar, his efforts would have counted for something too.

Thus ended a bad week for Leeds, one which began with a miserable performance in the Coca-Cola Cup final against Aston Villa and in which their manager Howard Wilkinson contemplated offering his resignation before vowing to carry on.

One suspects this pledge of loyalty has been received with mixed feelings by some Leeds' fans, although they gave Wilkinson rather less of a rough ride than he had been bracing himself for after the abuse he received at Wembley.

Boro left both the jet-lagged Juninho, who had played for Brazil during the week, and his compatriot Branco on the bench and looked intent on grinding out a point, lining up with five across the back. The early goal, then, came as an enormous bonus and faced Leeds, missing Tony Yeboah, with a difficult task.

They scored heavily for effort, and their two teenage debutants, left- back Harry Kewell and midfielder Jason Blunt, who came on for Lukic, offered much. But Leeds rarely threatened. All the more cause for McAllister to hold his head in his hands when he failed to accept the chance created by Derek Whyte's foul on Brian Deane; indeed Leeds hardly have any reasons to hold their heads up at all these days.