Date: Saturday, 1st April 2006.
Coca-Cola Football League Championship.
City 1 Leeds
Leeds United: Nil.
Hull City: Myhill; Thelwell, Cort, Delaney, Rogers; Green (Paynter),
Welsh, Andrews, Ellison (Elliott); Parkin, Fagan.
Unused Subs: Duffy, Wiseman, Duke.
Leeds United: Sullivan; Kelly, Butler, Gregan, Crainey; Miller (Healy), Derry, Douglas; Blake (Richardson), Hulse,
Lewis (Graham). Unused Subs: Kilgallon, Bennett.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton
(Tyne & Wear).
Leeds Unitedís hopes of clinching an automatic return
to the Premiership were all over bar the shouting. Kevin Blackwell's side
effectively saw their last chance pass them by when they slipped meekly to a
1-0 defeat at the hands of Hull City on April Fools' Day. The single
goal reverse left Leeds
trailing second-placed Sheffield United by seven points with just five games
left to claw back the deficit. Leeds would have needed the Blades to lose at least
three of their remaining fixtures and would have had to win the equivalent
amount to stand any chance, and on their recent form alone that would have
appeared to be a remote prospect. Blackwell's men still looked like certain
play-off contenders, they needed just two points to guarantee themselves their
place in the end of season lottery, but of more concern to the Leeds manager would be his side's form
ahead of such a competition.
now gone five games without a win, three without a goal, and had to look back
four hundred and thirty minutes for the last they had scored from open play.
Worryingly, it was two hundred and seventy-two minutes since they last found
the target at all and the efforts of the past few weeks are threatening to
undermine United's season. At Hull that Saturday, there was another
worrying facet about United's display, and that was
that the home side looked like they wanted it more. From the first whistle, Hull gave Leeds little space and showed added grit
and determination. It was a throwback to the derby displays of the
not-too-distant past with Leeds
again coming second to a side who were clearly
desperate to put one over on them and claim their scalp.
Peter Taylor admitted afterwards that his players were fuelled up by an article
from the morning newspapers in which Leeds manager Kevin Blackwell had said United
"annihilated" Hull when the two sides met at
Christmas. Apparently, the usually vocal Taylor said little to his players ahead of
Saturday's game, aside from reading out the article, and they responded in a
manner their supporters should have been proud of. As a contest, the game was
best summed up by the two defensive battles. At one end, Paul Butler and Sean Gregan, neither a shrinking violet, were given their most
physical workout of the season by burly former York striker Jon Parkin.
Not renowned for his silky footballing skills, Parkin was compared to a "bouncer" by Ipswich boss Joe Royle
the previous weekend, the Hull forward was a big uncompromising
bruiser who just kept going back for more.
While Jon Parkin, Paul Butler and Sean Gregan
fought out an intriguing battle, the nippy Craig Fagan complemented his Hull strike partner well,
the same couldn't be said at the other end where Tigers defenders Damien
Delaney and Leon Cort were rarely troubled by Rob Hulse. The Leeds front man was outnumbered again and was well
shackled, and he endured another frustrating ninety minutes where little went
his way. Unlike the previous couple of weeks, Leeds did create enough chances to take
something from that Saturday game, but when push came to shove they failed to
seriously test home goalkeeper Bo Myhill. While Neil
Sullivan made a handful of tremendous blocks to keep Leeds in the contest, Bo Myhill had little to do after pushing an Eddie Lewis
free-kick around the post in the third minute of the game.
Aston Villa youngster would have been well-beaten when Robbie Blake fired over
the bar from close range in the first half and he would have been tested to the
full had Liam Miller found the target after the break when he had a great
chance, but both efforts were off target. They represented United's
best chances in a game which never hit the heights in terms of quality. It was
more of a blood and thunder clash with plenty of guts and effort from the home
side and little in the way of a cutting edge from Leeds. The nicety of United's
approach was evident during the opening period when they contrived to string a
good twenty or so passes together in the middle third of the field, playing a lovely
spell of keep-ball, yet when you really wanted someone to put their foot on it
and seize the initiative, no-one stepped forward. That had been United's single biggest failing in recent weeks and went
hand in hand with the fact they are struggling for goals.
Leeds had a handful of potential
match-winners in their ranks at the KC Stadium yet other than the odd flash,
the occasional glimmer of hope, no-one went that extra mile to seize the day
and stand up and be counted. That early Eddie Lewis free-kick was the closest Leeds came to scoring, but the harsh
truth was that United could have been at least 1-0 down at half-time. Jon Parkin had a goal disallowed for offside when Stephen Crainey appeared to head it in to his path, while Kevin
Ellison and Stuart Green both tested the impressive Neil Sullivan in the Leeds goal. Neil Sullivan also did well
to deny Jon Parkin on the stroke of half-time and,
other than Eddie Lewis's free-kick, United's only
other decent chance had come when Liam Miller played in an intelligent cross
and Robbie Blake hammered over the top from close range.
Given United's habit of being able to move up a gear at half-time
and their ability to pick up points away from home, the game still looked very
much in their favour at the break, but Hull stuck to
their task well and denied Leeds any time or space in the middle of the park.
Stuart Green shot over the bar for Hull and Jon Parkin
and Craig Fagan continued to cause problems, but Jonathan Douglas hooked an
effort over the top and Liam Miller fired wide following a Robbie Blake cross
as Leeds gave a rare glimpse of their
quality. It all went wrong on seventy-six minutes, though, when the Leeds defence
gave the ball away cheaply. Stuart Green found space on the Hull right, delivered a high ball into
the box and Jon Parkin, known as "the
beast" by Tigers fans, muscled his way in at the far post to head home. It
was a killer blow for Leeds
and it wasn't until the final minutes that United actually looked shaken and
stirred and mounted a couple of last-gasp raids of their own.
David Healy sent a free-kick skidding wide of the mark and Rob Hulse turned and shot over the bar, following good work by
debutant substitute Danny Graham. But it was too little too late, and United's poor run of form extended to five games without a
win. Kevin Blackwell said afterwards he was facing a week of assessment in the
hope of addressing the mini-slump. Changes might have well been afoot before Plymouth rolled into town the next weekend
because it was vital that Leeds
re-discovered a level of confidence before the play-offs came around. On
current form they didn't look to be an appealing prospect.
Rob Hulse is foiled
by a brave Bo Myhill
Alton Thelwell tries
to close down Eddie Lewis†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Liam Miller skies the ball over from close
Jon Parkin celebrates
the Hull goal††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††Paul Butler is crowded out by Leon Cort†† ††††Paul
Butler joins Rob Hulse in attack
Danny Graham shows his pace††††††††††††††††††††† †††††Jonathan Douglas and John Welsh clash††††††††† ††††††Rob
Hulse shields the ball from Leon Cort
Gary Kelly looks for an opening††††† †††David
Healy just gets his pass in†††††† †††Eddie Lewis holds his head as the game slips
Paul Butler knows the easy promotion†† ††††††††††††††Kevin
Blackwell sees his direct
option has gone††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
†††††chance for promotion vanish
Jon Parkin got the
winner for Hull City††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††††Paul Butler and Sean Gregan
were given a torrid†††††††††† ††††††Neil Sullivan made several
††††††††††time by Jon Parkin† †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††tremendous
Rob Hulse rarely
troubled the†††††††††††††† ††††Eddie Lewis forced a save from his††† †††Robbie Blake fired over with an easy††††††† ††Stephen Crainey
Hull defence††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††early free-kick††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† ††††††chance from close range†††††††††††††††††††††††††† †††††lucky the referee
†††††††††††††††††††††††missed his header
David Healyís free-kick††††††††††††††††††† ††††††Danny
Graham good work to†††††††††††††††††††††††
Douglas hooked an effort over the top
Rob Hulse a chance
Liam Miller also missed the target††††††††††††††††††††† Jon Parkin,
Kevin Ellison, Alan Rogers,
Alton Thelwell and John Welsh came into the Hull City line-up from the game
at Elland Road. ††††††Darryl
Duffy came on as a substitute