Leeds United 2 Norwich City 1
Report of match 19th October 2009
Reporter Michael Walker - Mail Online
Jermaine Beckford produced one of those good, bad and ugly performances, presumably of the sort that has stopped anyone taking him away from Leeds United.But, like a showman, Beckford saved the good until last with a composed finish in injury-time that gave Leeds a win their previous 90 minutes and more did not deserve.
They did not care at Elland Road about that. Less than 60 seconds after Beckford had missed an open goal, Norwich goalkeeper Fraser Forster scuffed his clearance straight to the Leeds talisman.
Beckford raced 20 yards into the area and chipped the advanced goalkeeper. The ground erupted like the old times.
On the touchline, Norwich manager Paul Lambert could not believe it. His side had pushed and pulled Leeds all over their home turf with a creative, energetic performance, but once Simon Grayson introduced Max Gradel late on, the game's momentum changed.
Gradel, a sprightly 21-year-old attacker, only arrived on loan from Leicester yesterday, but his vim lifted Leeds.
Instead of a worrying draw, they had a morale-boosting win that took them two points clear at the top of League One with a game in hand.
As a consequence, Leeds remain the only unbeaten club in England's top four divisions.
They take that record to Millwall on Saturday. 'We looked dangerous in the second half,' Grayson said, 'but I thought Norwich were excellent. We played Liverpool a few weeks ago and weren't given those problems.
'But we were better in the second half and one thing we have got is the desire to keep going. And one thing Jermaine doesn't do is shy away from chances.'
Lambert said: 'I might be biased but we deserved to win it. We never deserved to lose it. I thought we were brilliant. I'm pretty sure Leeds had a fright tonight.'
Norwich's long journey home will have felt sickening, but once the pain dims there will be the consolation that they played with confidence and fluidity.
Wes Hoolahan and Darel Russell were prominent throughout, while Grant Holt's equaliser shortly before half-time was his fifth goal in six games.
Norwich were undefeated in six games beforehand and they could have taken the lead on two occasions before Bradley Johnson scored for Leeds in the 15th minute.
Hoolahan and Russell had the shots. Both efforts were saved by Shane Higgs, but not particularly comfortably, and Higgs, who has just returned from a thigh injury, was replaced on 17 minutes.
That was two minutes after Johnson had headed the home team in front. Beckford's spirited run earned Leeds a corner which was struck by Robert Snodgrass to the far post.
Johnson climbed highest to nod in from two yards. Beckford was close to doubling the lead on the half-hour and Leeds could have done with it.
Norwich were unperturbed by their deficit and continued to probe. It was no less than they deserved when Holt ran on to Stephen Hughes's sweeping inswinger six minutes before half-time to poke a shot beyond Higgs's stand-in Casper Ankergren.
The goalkeeper was rooted to his line. Ankergren redeemed himself with a save from Holt on 67 minutes but then Leeds began to drag themselves back.
Forster made a flying save from Snodgrass's free-kick, then blocked superbly from Beckford when one-on-one. Then came Beckford's glaring late miss. It seemed that Leeds just could not win. Then Beckford came again.