Competition: First Division.
Referee: D.H. Allison (
When Leeds United found goals difficult to come by in the 1980-81 campaign manager Allan Clarke turned to winger Carl Harris to solve the problem and the Welshman answered the SOS call with a fair degree of success. United had been hoping to rely on Welsh striker Alan Curtis, experienced Scottish international Derek Parlane and home grown Terry Connor for the bulk of their goals but for various reasons this trio failed to deliver the goods.
Curtis, who had risen to prominence when
Derek Parlane, who managed just five goals in twenty-six league appearances, and Terry Connor, who chipped in with four from twenty-seven, were not consistent enough so Allan Clarke was left with little alternative but to explore other avenues of increasing his side’s goal output.
Carl Harris was the player he turned to and the quiet Welshman responded with a return of ten goals in thirty-three appearances and that made him the club’s top marksman that season, with Derek Parlane’s five goal tally making him the second best striker. Three players finished the campaign with a four goal tally, Terry Connor, Kevin Hird and central defender Paul Hart. With such low goal tallies it was not, perhaps, all that surprising that for much of the season United were looking over their shoulder and casting a wary eye in the direction of the relegation zone.
took a turn for the better after Christmas with a productive run and when
relegation fears having been dispelled, United came out of their shell when
they scored three goals for the first time in the season to beat
these three players were, arguably, the three players most often critised by supporters so this particular weekend must have
been one of the most satisfying of the season for them. There was much more to
the respective performances of Brian Flynn, Derek Parlane
and Byron Stevenson than the goals that delighted a meager
Byron Stevenson opened the scoring for United midway through the first half when he beat Les Sealy with a twenty yard shot after Arthur Graham had knocked the ball back to him, but United had to wait until the later stages of the game to put their superiority onto the score-sheet. Brian Flynn did the spadework to provide Derek Parlane with the chance to hammer it into the net from eighteen yards after seventy-two minutes, rapping the ball in from Brian Greenhoff’s well flighted centre.
Not so long
before Gordon Milne’s
Leeds United made it twelve points out of the last fourteen available to them, when they followed up a midweek thrashing of First Division high-riders Ipswich Town with a convincing victory over Coventry City at Elland Road on 4th April 1981, As anticipated United manager Allan Clarke made only one change from the side that had knocked three past Ipswich without reply in midweek, bringing in six foot four inch reserve defender Neil Firm in place of the suspended Trevor Cherry.
were looking to young Welshman Carl Harris, who had responded to Clarke’s
decision to switch him from his usual winger’s role to that of striker by
knocking in six goals, including a cracker against Ipswich, in nine games to
continue his rich vein of form. It had taken his tally for the season to ten
goals, which was already double what he had achieved in any other season. He
was unable to add to that tally against
However, Welshmen still figured on the score-sheet, Byron Stevenson and Brian Flynn both scoring, with Derek Parlane getting the other as United recorded their sixth win in the last seven games. Byron Stevenson opened the scoring mid-way through the first half when Kevin Hird’s corner, which had too much height on it for skipper Paul Hart to reach, dropped the ball at Arthur Graham’s feet and he knocked it back for Stevenson to drill a twenty yard shot past Les Sealey.
United had to wait until the sixty-fourth minute to increase their advantage. The battling Brian Flynn did the spadework controlling a high bouncing ball to put Parlane through on the right and the much improved Scottish striker finished in fine style by hammering an eighteen-yard angled shot into the net for his third goal in five games. The growing authority apparent in United’s game was placed on the score-sheet in the seventy-second minute when Brian Flynn met Brian Greenhoff’s low cross, following good work by Eddie Gray and Carl Harris, to turn the ball into the net from five yards.
have been particularly pleasing for the three goal-scorers, Stevenson, Parlane and Flynn, as they had often come in for criticism
from United fans and they had the satisfaction of
knowing their goals pushed United into tenth place in the First Division. With
just a handful of games to go to the end of the season, United were a point
behind Manchester United with a game in hand. Aston Villa were
leading the race for the title, a point ahead of
Further comments from the YEP (Courtesy of Mark Ledgard):
Leeds United had thought they had been sent to
Clarke, the Leeds Manager, believed that the balance of his midfield was now
far better with Stevenson filling the hole between the defence
and the attacking midfield besides using his ability to release the ball early
One player who had certainly benefited from Stevenson’s move had been Brian Flynn, who was getting the chance to buzz with more freedom and had fewer worries about his defensive responsibilities. It came across strongly in this match when rounded off a fine afternoon with a late close-in goal worked in much the same way as the winner he had got three weeks earlier at Old Trafford. Stevenson himself had put United on their way in the first half so boring that one could hardly blame the Director who left his seat to watch the Grand National for a while. The twenty-third minute goal, struck from twenty yards with the same touch on the ball Stevenson applies to many of his passes was the first by the twenty-four-year-old Welshman since the second minute of the season.
little bit of pressure off and they are beginning to enjoy it and you can see
it in their game,” said Martin Wilkinson, Allan Clarke’s deputy. But to be fair
Derek Parlane fires home United’s second goal
A wider view of Derek Parlane scoring United’s second goal
Brian Flynn notches United’s third goal watched by Derek Parlane.
Brian Flynn beats Les Sealey to score United’s third goal
(Above match action photos Courtesy of Mark Ledgard)
The details of the day (Courtesy Mark Ledgard)
Byron Stevenson, Derek Parlane and Brian Flynn
Big Neil Firm stood in for Trevor Cherry Alan Curtis and Terry Connor, Allan Clarke’s first choice strikers did not play
Carl Harris was asked to do the striking Eddie Gray and Paul Hart both played their parts in United’s goals
Kevin Hird, Arthur Graham and Brian Greenhoff each made telling contributions in the goal build ups
Les Sealey had no chance with the goals