What The Locals Say.........

Last updated : 29 October 2003 By Kevin Markey
This is what Martin Jarred in the York Evening Press wrote;

One of the darkest days in Leeds United's history also turned out to be one of the longest.

It began with a 7am announcement to the Stock Market that the club had made a record £49.5million loss.

At around 10.15pm they suffered yet another loss - this time on the pitch at the hands of Manchester United in the Carling Cup at Elland Road.

Eric Djemba-Djemba's late goal was a real sickener for Leeds as penalties were looming. There was even a touch of the bizarre about the Manchester winner three minutes from the end of extra time as the Cameroon international's mistimed volley thudded into the turf and span high over Paul Robinson's head into the net.

Scruffy, maybe, but it was enough to send Sir Alex Ferguson's side through to the last 16 of a much-maligned competition, while closing another revenue-generating avenue for battered Leeds.

Both sides were missing key players, either by choice or injury, and for the most part the match was of a poor standard, littered with mistakes.

After a forgettable first half, the match was ignited when Roque Junior, restored to the centre of defence for the injured Dominic Matteo, headed in Seth Johnson's right-wing corner.

Within minutes Peter Reid's team lost the influential Salomon Olembe and Leeds' hopes of hanging on to victory seemed to limp down the tunnel with him.

Manchester United are the best team in the country when they are chasing a game and seized control for the rest of the tie.

They quickened the pace and chances came, and went, their way with Diego Forlan, in particular, suffering in front of goal.

Just when Leeds appeared to have ridden the storm, David Bellion, who played at Sunderland under Leeds boss Peter Reid, took Djemba-Djemba's pass and steered the ball through Robinson's legs for the equaliser.

Leeds were rocking and only a brilliant reflex save by Robinson from a deflection from a weary Roque Junior enabled the home side to drag the match into extra time.

Leeds were looking weary and the force was with the visitors who seemed to be home and hosed when Forlan tapped in from close-range on 108 minutes after good work down the right by 17-year-old substitute David Eagles.

Somehow Leeds summoned a response, Brazilian Roque Junior knocking in James Milner's cross with his knee with just seven minutes remaining.

A match of poor quality was now running high on excitement, but Leeds switched off at a corner and afforded Djemba-Djemba too much space in the area.

Although the execution of his volley was hardly perfection it was good enough to give the Red Devils a victory their overall display merited.

It seems Leeds simply can't buy a result these days - and it won't get any easier.

They next tackle Arsenal on Saturday with Dominic Matteo already ruled out through injury, while Mark Viduka, injured in training yesterday, and now Olembe are also doubts.

To cap a bad day Alan Smith picked up a needless booking in the final minute and faces a bout of suspension - just about the last thing Reid needs as he struggles to operate with his threadbare squad.

Leeds United 2 Manchester United 3 (after extra time) (Carling Cup, third round)at Elland Road.

Leeds United: Robinson, Kelly, Camara, Roque Junior, Harte, Milner, Olembe (Lennon 57), Johnson, Sakho (Chapuis 80), Smith, Bridges (Domi 71).

Subs (not used): Carson, Duberry.

Caution: Smith.

Goals: Roque Junior 49, 114.

Manchester United: Carroll, P Neville, G Neville, O'Shea, Fortune, Fletcher (Eagles 62), Butt, Djemba-Djemba, Richardson (Eagles 62), Bellion, Forlan.

Subs (not used): Howard, Pugh, Lynch.

Cautions: G Neville, P Neville.

Goals: Bellion 78, Forlan 108, Djemba-Djemba 117.

Referee: Paul Durkin (Dorset).

Attendance: 37,546.