League 1 Match 11: Leeds United vs Charlton
United: Ankergren, Bromby, Naylor, Kisnorbo, Hughes (Robinson 65), Howson, Doyle, Kilkenny (Grella 79), Johnson, Beckford, Becchio (Showunmi 36). Subs: Prutton, Michalik, Kandol, Fielding
Elland Road was sold out for this match with only a handful of empty spaces in the visiting section as both sides looked to strengthen their own positions at the top of League One. Two of Leeds' former players were in the Charlton defence, and an early throw-in from Leigh Bromby caused confusion among the visiting defenders before being scrambled clear. At the other end, Sodje headed wide on seven minutes following a Charlton free-kick. But it was United who carved out the first real chance. Kilkenny found an advancing Beckford with a superb pass and the striker's first-time effort flew just wide. Leeds were an early threat and Nicky Bailey was lucky to escape without a caution when the referee played advantage after cynically he hacked down Luciano Becchio. United's work-rate and pressing made life difficult for a Charlton side that were clearly looking to pass the ball around. But the visitors created a great chance themselves on 25 minutes when Richardson got away down the right to deliver a good cross for Jonjo Shelvey. The striker wasted the chance, though, heading wide.
United's response was immediate and Beckford came within a whisker of latching on to the end of a low ball into the box from Howson. Bradley Johnson also had a shot deflected into the arms of Charlton goalkeeper Rob Elliot. And shortly after the half-hour, Elliot pulled off a good save to deny Johnson who worked himself the opportunity to deliver a goalbound effort. There was more injury concern for Leeds when Becchio caught himself on the ball and landed awkwardly. The stretcher appeared, but the striker was carried off by physio Harvey Sharman and strike partner Beckford before being replaced with Enoch Showunmi. United had enjoyed the better of the opening period and Charlton were again forced into the clearing their lines on 40 minutes when a Kilkenny cross looped into the six-yard box after taking a deflection. But, again, Charlton almost created another opening when a Lloyd Sam cross was deflected across the face of goal for a corner. The visitors also enjoyed a little spell in first half stoppage time that resulted in Spring firing over the bar.
Charlton made a change of their own at half-time with Sam being replaced by Scott Wagstaff. The opening exchanges of the second half were scrappy, the heavy wind which was swirling around was doing little for the game as a spectacle. United mounted an attack of 54 minutes with Showunmi showing good pace on the right to get his cross in and win a corner. As the game entered the final half-hour it was turning something of a war of attrition, but Showunmi forced Elliot into making a low save as he stabbed the ball across the face of goal. With 25 minutes remaining, Grayson introduced Andy Robinson on to the left flank, Johnson reverting to left-back in place of Andrew Hughes. And the substitute's first involvement was to chase down a Beckford flick and win a corner after pressurising Richardson. The game continued to ebb and flow with both sides enjoying brief spells, but chances were few and far between with both defences making timely challenges and blocks. Casper Ankergren made his first real save in the 73rd minute when Shelvey tried his luck from distance. The United goalkeeper also had to deal with a well-hit opportunist strike from outside of the box from Spring. With 11 minutes left, Grayson madce his final change as he looked to find a spark to clinch the game, Mike Grella replacing the industrious Kilkenny. It was threatening to turn into a frustrating afternoon for Leeds as the game entered its final stages, but when Beckford worked himself an opening on the right and sent a shot fizzing just wide, there was still a suggestion that Grayson's men could force the result. Moments later, Showunmi came within a whisker of doing so when his chip from outside of the box went agonisingly wide. Charlton cleared a couple of late free-kicks from Leeds and Richardson headed away a Howson cross when Beckford was waiting to pounce. Micky Doyle tried his luck from distance in stoppage time, as did Robinson, as Leeds looked the most likely to break through, but there were no late dramas as honours ended even.
Grayson Post-Match: "Over the course of the game a draw was the right result.
The conditions made it very hard for both teams. With the wind swirling about so much it made it hard for players to judge passes and things like that.
I think it was always going to be a tight game because neither side wanted to lose the game and the players didn't want to make mistakes.
To keep a clean sheet against a team like Charlton is very pleasing too." JPT Trophy North 2nd Round: Leeds United vs Darlington
United: Ankergren, Bromby, Michalik, Naylor, Hughes (Johnson 80), Robinson, Kilkenny, Prutton, White, Grella (Somma 70), Kandol (Showunmi 46). Subs: R Jones, Beckford
United manager Simon Grayson made a number of changes to his side for the visit of the league's bottom club Darlington in the second round of the Johnstone's Paint Trophy. Andy Robinson, David Prutton, Adie White, Mike Grella, and Tresor Kandol were all named in the starting line-up as the manager dug deep into his squad, following a number of international call-ups and injuries. Teenage goalkeeper Ryan Jones was also named on the subs bench. Robinson started on the right and he created the first chance inside the opening three minutes when Grella headed over the top. Saturday's Elland Road clash against Charlton in the league had been ruined by a swirling wind inside the stadium - the test for this game was the torrential rain that had poured for the biggest part of the afternoon and continued to fall heavily. Darlington have just two league points to their name and arrived with nothing to lose. With new manager, and former Leeds assistant boss, Steve Staunton watching from the stands they carved out an opening inside the opening 10 minutes when Jamie Devitt sent a shot wide.
But Leeds responded immediately, first Kandol had a header saved, then the striker had another attempt deflected wide. Kandol was also denied by a good challenge from Steve Foster after Grella played an intelligent ball in for his strike partner. And on 15 minutes, Nick Liversedge pulled off an acrobatic save to push a Kandol header onto the bar, following good work by Lubo Michalik and Andrew Hughes. Grella was next to test Liversedge, and the early exchanges had proved to be pretty much one-way traffic with Leeds penning Darlington back. When the Quakers did escape their own half, Leeds returned pretty quickly, courtesy of an interception from White which ended with a shot fizzing wide. Robinson also fired wide on 19 minutes after good work by Prutton while Michalik tried his luck from a full 40 yards out with a shot which just went wide. United finally opened the scoring on 24 minutes with a goal that gave a few clues about why Darlington find themselves at the foot of the table. Robinson hit a well-struck free-kick, but with the wall seemingly not protecting the keeper, a small deflection proved enough to leave Liversedge stranded as United made it 1-0. The second goal came within four minutes, courtesy of Kandol. Neil Kilkenny was the provider with a great ball through the middle and Kandol smashed it past Liversedge to double the advantage. Shortly after, Kandol curled a shot over the bar after a good nod on by Grella. Darlington did fashion out an opening shortly after the half-hour, following a quick break, but the end product was an effort wide of the mark from Devitt. With two goals in the bag and United looking very comfortable indeed, Darlington's Gary Smith fired wide following another quick break. But, as the game edged towards half-time, more good build-up play from Leeds resulted in Kandol firing wide. But it was Darlington who had the last word on the stroke of half-time. Devitt again tried his luck with a shot-cum-cross from the edge of the box, and Mark Convery was on hand to stab the ball home from close range to reduce the arrears.
Grayson made a change at half-time, introducing Enoch Showunmi in place of first-half scorer Kandol. As it was, United started the second half in the same manner as the first and after Grella was denied for an infringement, Kilkenny almost got on the end of a teasing cross from Showunmi. Grella was also crowded out after a good ball from Robinson released him with a run at the visiting defence. On 55 minutes, White fed Grella, but the American saw his shot deflected to safety and Naylor's header from the resultant corner was scrambled for another corner. White also forced Liversedge into making a good low save. United were dominant, and Naylor came within a whisker of adding a third when he turned a shot narrowly wide following another Robinson corner. At 2-1, though, the visitors still had something to cling on to on their rare forays forward, and on 62 minutes Convery really should have levelled matters when he arrived unmarked at the far post to meet a cross, but failed to control the ball with the goal at his mercy. With 20 minutes on the clock, Grayson made his second change, handing a debut to striker Somma in place of Grella, who picked up a slight knock. There was little in the way of drama as the game headed towards its final stages, but Darlington were still hanging in there at 2-1, and Kevin Gall served a reminder that they hadn't given up hope of salvaging a leveller when he shot wide. At the other end, Showunmi was denied by Liversedge following a surging run by Kilkenny, and the striker narrowly failed to connect with a good cross from Andrew Hughes. That proved Hughes's last taste of the action with Grayson introducing Bradley Johnson for the final 10 minutes of the contest. United's injury luck of late was summed up on 84 minutes, though, when Somma pulled up while running with what looked like a hamstring injury, and Grayson's men were reduced to 10 for the final moments. United were content to sit on the advantage and, while Darlington toiled in the hope of sending the game to penalties, the game quietly ebbed towards its conclusion. Curtis Main did shoot wide and Naylor made possibly the final of a number of important blocks of the night. Then, in the final minute of stoppage time, Darlington goalkeeper Liversedge was handed a straight red card when he blocked Showunmi in full flow chasing down on goal. Robinson took the free-kick on the edge of the box, lifting it narrowly over the bar, and within 20 seconds the whistle sounded as United progressed through to next month's Area Quarter-Finals.
League 1 Match 12: Leeds United vs Norwich City
United: Higgs (Ankergren 16), Crowe, Bromby, Naylor, Hughes, Snodgrass (Gradel 80), Doyle, Howson, Johnson, Beckford, Vokes (Kandol 74). Subs: Prutton, Kilkenny, Grella, Michalik
Leeds United manager Simon Grayson sprung a few surprises in his starting line-up for the visit of Norwich City. Not only didJason Crowe and Robert Snodgrass make their returns from injury, but the boss also revealed two new loan signings when he named his team with striker Sam Vokes coming into the starting line-up and winger Max Gradel joining the substitutes bench. The Leeds boss had been keen to keep his new signings under wraps until the 11th hour as United looked to spring a surprise on visiting Norwich.
Paul Lambert's side have crept up the table in recent weeks, and it was United's recalled goalkeeper Shane Higgs who was called into action early doors when he pulled off a terrific save, clawing a goalbound effort off the line after a cross from the Norwich right. It was a lively opening and after Vokes tried his luck with an effort from distance, Norwich's Chris Martin fired wide at the other end. The visitors were finding some space and Higgs made another good save to deny Wes Hoolahan, who should have done better from close range. But Leeds were 1-0 up inside the opening 15 minutes. Snodgrass whipped in a corner and Bradley Johnson rose well to power home his sixth goal of the season to give United the advantage. It was the perfect start for Leeds, but the early goal was tempered slightly when Higgs limped out of the game. However, United almost bagged a second while waiting to make the change in goal when Leigh Bromby quickly turned defence into attack, instead of looking to play the ball out to enable to the substitution, and Micky Doyle had a shot blocked after a great break by Snodgrass. Jermaine Beckford also went close on the half-hour. The striker showed great skill to work himself an opening, skipping past two players, but his shot was fractionally wide of the mark. But Norwich were level seven minutes before half-time. A Simon Lappin cross came from deep on the Norwich right and Grant Holt ousted Johnson at the far post to convert from close range.
Half-time gave an opportunity for United to re-group and within minutes of the re-start, Beckford worked himself an opening before firing wide. The visitors were on the front foot once again, though, and Ankergren had to recover quickly to block an effort from Jens Berthel-Askou on the hour-mark. Moments later, Ankergren saved well from Holt, and the Norwich striker was in the thick of the action again when he fired wide on 68 minutes. But it was Norwich goalkeeper Fraser Forster who pulled off the save of the half when he palmed away a powerful free-kick from Snodgrass. With 16 minutes left on the clock, Grayson made his first change, replacing Vokes with Tresor Kandol, who was making his first league appearance for the club since May 2008. The Leeds boss also handed Gradel his debut with 10 minutes remaining, in place of Snodgrass, and his first touch was to deliver a quality ball for Beckford. Gradel wasted little time in lighting up Elland Road. He linked up well with Kandol to provide Beckford with another great ball, but Forster pulled off a terrific save to deny the United striker. And, moments later, Gradel tried his luck from distance after winning the ball in midfield. The loan man was also involved in firing in a low cross which Beckford almost converted in the dying moments. But the winning goal in stoppage time was a solo effort. Norwich goalkeeper Forster delivered a weak clearance, and not to be outdone, Beckford was rewarded for all his hard work as he returned the kick down field before delivering a superb finish to win it at the death. Elland Road erupted and chants of "top of the league" echoed around at the final whistle as Leeds regained leadership of the division.
Grayson Post-Match: "I thought Norwich were excellent and that's the hardest game we've had this season.
We played Liverpool a few weeks ago and they didn't give us the problems Norwich did.
We knew they would cause us problems but we have got a desire at this club to keep going and get results when we haven't played as well as we can do."
Leeds started the month with issues over the ownership looming large. An attempt to open discussions into purchasing Thorp Arch back were thrown into question when Leeds Council questioned whether the ownership were "fit and proper" people to be dealing with. The Football League were quick to act on this news and announced that they were investigating Kan Bates with regards to their fit and proper person test.
Ben Parkers attempt to recover from the hamstring strain earlier on the season was once again setback, the injury was a longer continuation from an injury received in the final game of the previous season and Leeds ad not set a timeframe on his return.
In transfer news, Paul Huntington had his loan contract with Stockport extended for another 28 days. The loan move was due to expire but with Huntington gaining good experience as an ever present in the Stockport side it was decided by both clubs to extend the deal. Perhaps the biggest transfer news came at the start of this month with two big new arrivals. Sam Vokes agreed to come on loan from Wolves to Leeds until January showing ambition to help Leeds achieve promotion with the striker rejecting three championship clubs to join the League 1 high flyers. That wasn't the only deal completed in the beginning of this month however, Max Gradel also arrived on loan from Leicester. The exciting young winger arrived on a 1-month loan deal with the option to extend it if both clubs had the desire to do so.
Finally in positive news, Robert Snodgrass capped off a great September by claiming the PFA Fans Player of the month. He also in this same timeframe earned his first call-up to the Scotland international side.