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

Last updated : 29 October 2003 By Kevin Markey
This is what Paul Dews in the Yorkshire Evening Post wrote;

Nothing is going right for Leeds United.

On a day when the club announced record losses - the worst ever by a British side - it came as no real surprise to see arch-rivals Manchester United rub salt into the wound by stealing a Carling Cup victory.

Thirty seconds of madness settled what, for the most part, was an evenly- matched contest between two sides struggling to hit top gear.

It may sound like another catalogue of excuses, but two back-to-back decisions proved crucial to the game.

Leeds had a clear penalty appeal waved away and, in typical fashion, the visitors raced away to score what looked like an offside goal.

At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, it just seems that good fortune has deserted Leeds United in a rather drastic manner and, when the chips are down they are well and truly down.

They say you make your own luck in life, but Peter Reid and his troops do deserve something better than they are getting at the moment.

It wasn't the best performance in the world last night and, maybe, the visitors held the upper hand by the slenderest of margins, but the cruel way in which Leeds were condemned to defeat left another sour taste.

When French debutant Cyril Chapuis was wrestled to the ground by Quentin Fortune deep in extra time a certain penalty looked on the cards.

But, no. Referee Paul Durkin waved play on, the visitors broke free and Diego Forlan was on hand, in an offside position, to tap home Darren Fletcher's cross.

It was a crazy 30 seconds and one which set up a tense finale. Instead of a potential 2-1 lead, United were trailing and the clock was ticking down.

In keeping with their hard-working effort, Leeds summed up one last bit of energy to snatch an equaliser, but that was cancelled out at the death when the previously ineffective Eric Djemba-Djemba grabbed a late winner.

It was a case of so near so far once again - Leeds have now lost three on the trot and things don't look like getting any easier.

Most fans would have settled for a 1-0 win with the goal coming off someone's backside last night, yet the fates are conspiring against Leeds and it just doesn't look like happening.

With more quality they would have punished their arch-rivals in this Carling Cup showdown, but they are relying on graft rather than craft and every game is a real tester.

Leeds had more goal attempts than their opponents and were marginally the better side for an hour but, after Roque Junior scored his first goal for the club, heading home a Seth Johnson corner early in the second half, Manchester United found their feet and looked the sharper of the two sides.

Even so, it took them 78 minutes to prise open the Leeds defence when David Bellion beat the offside trap to level things up. It was harsh on Leeds, but was no more than Manchester United deserved.

The champions had looked inadequate for much of the contest, but Nicky Butt woke up and showed why he is an England international.

Butt had a real battle on his hands with United teenager James Milner in the middle of the park and the home-grown Leeds star was the best player on the pitch.

He epitomised the effort and work-rate required and, while Roque Junior will take the plaudits for scoring his first goals for the club, Milner was undoubtedly the man.

Both sides tired as the game drifted into extra time and a 1-1 draw looked the most likely outcome until the crazy 30-second spell that changed the game.

Leeds still managed to claw their way back into the contest when the lively Milner crossed and Roque tapped home from six yards out.

A draw was definitely on the cards then, but with three minutes remaining Manchester United struck again to snatch the win.

Djemba-Djemba came racing into the box and his mis-cued shot hit the ground and flew up to leave Paul Robinson stranded.

It was a frenetic and dramatic ending to a contest which offered very little during the opening 45 minutes.

At times it looked like two poor sides struggling to get out of first gear and even the rousing support of the home fans failed to lift what seemed to be an unusually flat atmosphere for a Roses battle.

Maybe events earlier in the day contributed to it, but the whole night appeared to be surreal and it should have been no real surprise that the game ended in the way it did.

It's becoming an all-too familiar tale now and, whatever factors are hindering Leeds, results are fast becoming a priority because the longer the barren run goes on, the harder it will be to break free.

Once again, there was no faulting the effort and commitment on show. Leeds worked their socks off in the hope of pulling off the win they so badly need.

The cynics will argue that their opponents were under strength last night, but one quick look at the Leeds line-up that finished the game will show that neither side was at their strongest.

Leeds should have more bodies back in the fold for Saturday's crucial clash with Arsenal when Reid must, once again, concentrate on lifting his players for another tough test.