Date: Tuesday, 26th August 2003.
Venue: Elland Road, Leeds.
English Premier League.
United 0 Southampton 0
United: Nil. Southampton: Nil.
Leeds United: Robinson; Kelly, Camara, Matteo, Harte (Richardson);
Pennant (Wilcox), Morris (Batty), Johnson, Sakho;
Smith, Viduka. Unused Subs: Lennon, Martyn.
Southampton: Jones; Dodd, Svensson,
Lundekvam, Le Saux; Fernandes, Oakley, Delap
(Telfer), Prutton (McCann); Beattie, Phillips (Ormerod). Unused Subs: Higginbotham, Blayney.
Referee: Mr P. Durkin (Portland, Dorset).
enjoying the upper hand when Lamine Sakho arrived at the far post to score with a superbly
headed goal. The TV replays showed Sakho was onside
when he moved to meet Gary Kelly’s in-swinging cross, but the goal was ruled
out by an offside flag. “It was a goal,” said United
manager Peter Reid, “But it was one of those decisions that sometimes they go
for you and at other times they don’t. We’ll take it because these things even
themselves out over a season.”
were beginning to fit together in Peter Reid's Leeds United jigsaw, the only
thing that was missing was a win. The goalless draw with Southampton only served to emphasise what the United
boss, and the fans, were looking for from the team. Peter Reid had assembled a
side who would work hard, fight for each other, track
back and defend when needed. He had even found a right-winger who could deliver
the crosses for his strikers. But for all that effort and guile, Reid had
failed to charm Lady Luck and United were unable to polish off Southampton and gain the three points they so
richly deserved. Once again there were impressive performances throughout the
side and Reid's new signings were really beginning to come to the fore.
Centre-back Zoumana Camara
looked better and better by the game while Lamine Sakho, playing wide on the left, had tremendous pace and
boasted the ability to frighten opposing defences. Jody Morris was a workhorse in midfield and
was looking good, but one of the stars of the show was on the right flank where
Jermaine Pennant gave the Saints a torrid evening.
Not since Gordon Strachan,
now manager of Southampton, have United boasted an out and out right-sided midfielder who could
cross a ball and supply the strikers with the service they required. But Jermaine Pennant had that ability and what he lacked in
experience he more than made up for with his willingness to take defenders on
and he too should have become better and better as he progressed. There were
also useful performances from some of the 'old guard' on the night. Skipper
Dominic Matteo again played through the pain barrier,
his ankle was heavily strapped, and he worked well with Zoumana
Camara in snuffing out the threat of James Beattie
and Kevin Phillips. Paul Robinson did what he had to do. He made two outstanding
saves at the end of either half, but otherwise had a very quiet evening as the
visitors struggled to make an impact.
Robinson had had so little to do during United's
opening three matches that he may well considered a part-time switch to Aston
Villa just to keep his hand in, because teams were just not getting the
opportunities against Leeds.
That was down to solid defending, Gary Kelly was again at his reliable best,
and a midfield engine room that chugged around as though boosted by Duracell
batteries. Along with Jody Morris, Seth Johnson was at the heart of the
midfield and he was outstanding on the night. Johnson, who had not started
three games in a row since his arrival at Elland Road two years previous, was
inspirational and some of his passing was a delight to watch. He frequently fed
Jermaine Pennant and Lamine
Sakho on the flanks and United bossed the game in the
middle of the park against a side who weren't
over-blessed with ideas. Up front, Alan Smith again got himself in some good
positions and he was a constant menace as United looked the hungrier of the two
took less than two minutes for United to find the net, but Lamine
Sakho's diving header was ruled out by an offside
flag after the Frenchman converted a Gary Kelly free-kick. That really set the
tone and Leeds dominated the opening period. Mark Viduka narrowly headed wide from a Jermaine
Pennant cross and Paul Jones pulled off a save to deny Alan Smith. Jones also
had to be at his best to deny Jermaine Pennant after Lamine Sakho turned provider with
a neat through-ball. Ian Harte caught Jones napping
with a free-kick, and the Saints’ keeper could only watch as another Alan Smith
effort flew wide. His opposite number Paul Robinson was also a spectator and it
took forty-one minutes before the visitors finally mustered an effort worthy of
him saving. When called upon he did well to deny Jason Dodd.
half was not as exciting as the first but United continued to play the better
football. Alan Smith was again unlucky while Seth Johnson shot wide from
distance. Unfortunately the half-time break did little for referee Paul Durkin
and he continued to blow his whistle for almost every challenge that he
noticed. Durkin was pedantic throughout and needlessly penalised
both sides on numerous occasions, yet still contrived to miss a couple of
incidents that were actually worthy of stopping proceedings for. Lamine Sakho and Dominic Matteo were booked for innocuous offences as Durkin
struggled to differentiate between fair and foul play. As the clock wound down,
Alan Smith narrowly missed with a hooked effort after good work by Lamine Sakho while Dominic Matteo almost connected with his head from close range.
Southampton did show good spirit in the dying
moments and they had probably the best chance of the game deep into injury
time. Substitute Brett Ormerod found himself with a great opportunity but the ever-alert Paul
Robinson proved his ability by pulling off a superb reflex save to ensure honours ended even. A draw certainly favoured a Saints side who
only really came to life after the break and were well shackled by a determined
United. Peter Reid was quick to point out afterwards that it was United's worst start to a campaign for fifteen years, but
there were few complaints from the fans on the night. Two points from a
possible nine was not the best haul, but this was a new-look United
side and expectations were not as high as they were.
disgruntled supporters needed to look no further than the reaction at the final
whistle when most of those fans remaining gave the side a standing ovation. The
Leeds team had again given their all and
while there was still a distinct lack of quality, no-one inside Elland Road could fault the effort and
commitment. Peter Reid had long said he was searching for some consistency and,
in terms of effort, he had definitely found that. It was the first time for
almost eighteen months that United had turned in three consecutive performances
where the work-rate and commitment levels could not be faulted. Now he had to
find that added quality needed to secure United a first win of the season. A
win would bring extra confidence to the ranks and United knew they had nothing
to fear when they travelled to Middlesbrough on the following Saturday. The only
frustrating thing was that if Leeds collect all three
points at the Riverside Stadium they would have to wait over two weeks to build
on that, such was the stupidity of the fixture list.
Lamine Sakho heads the ball into the Southampton net but it is disallowed for
Mark Viduka rises
high but his header is off target
Ian Harte tries to
bend a free-kick round the Southampton wall.
Zoumana Camara tries to dispossess Kevin Phillips Alan Smith
challenges Claus Lundekvam Alan Smith holds his head
for a high ball after
Jermaine Pennant tussles with Matt Oakley
Lamine Sahko had a superb Gary Kelly had provided Peter Reid’s jigsaw pieces
the cross to be
coming into place
better and better
Jody Morris was a work-horse Jermaine
Pennant was the star Dominic Matteo
played Paul Robinson made
through the pain two brilliant saves
Seth Johnson was outstanding Alan Smith was denied by keeper Ian Harte caught keeper napping
Jones was the Saints keeper
Jason Dodd and Graeme Le Saux were the
full-backs Michael Svensson and Claus Lundekvam were
in central defence
Felice Fernandes, Matthew Oakley, Rory Delap and future United player, David Prutton,
formed the starting midfield
and Kevin Phillips were the strikers Danny
Higginbotham and Alan Blayney were unused substitutes
Neil McCann and, future United player Paul Telfer, and loanee, Brett Ormerod, were the used substitutes