Saturday, 22 March 2008

Leeds United leapfrog the Saddlers with a Beckford double

Live on Sky Sports (a 5.20pm, start), Leeds United faced Walsall at Elland Road with just one change to the starting line-up, Alan Sheehan replacing the suspended Andy Hughes.

Using the long ball at every opportunity United looked good. In the second minute a long ball from Neil Kilkenny left Jermaine Beckford with only Clayton Ince, the Saddlers goalie, to beat but he shot wide. One minute later another chance for Beckford went wide.

Walsall, a good footballing side, were proving hard to break down.

A 25 yard shot from David Prutton, after 17 minutes, sailed over the bar.

From the start Dougie Freedman looked a class apart from the rest and he showed a real understanding with Beckford, making three clever flicks through to him in the first 20 minutes, that Becks failed to convert.

In the 22nd minute Prutton edged a good ball through to Becks but he could not make contact in front of goal.

Another good through ball from Kilkenny, in the 28th minute, found Beckford again, who sent the ball over the line from a very difficult angle close to the line, 1-0.

A 30-yard drive, in the 41st minute by Prutton forced a save by Ince.

The Whites started the second half with a chance by Jonathan Howson. Then with a minute gone Freedman twisted past a couple of defenders but his shot from just outside the box was saved by Ince. In the 53rd minute Freedman latched on to a cross from Prutton but his header was also saved by Ince.

The Saddlers best chance came in the 58th minute when striker Tommy Mooney fired over the bar from close range.

In the 64th minute Alan Sheehan sent in a pile driver of a free-kick from 25 yards. It was tipped over the bar for a corner that caused more chaos in the Walsall penalty box. United were well on top and cruising.

Kilkenny had a 30 yard shot on target in the 68th minute and Bradley Johnson came close when his header was cleared off the line.

In the 79th minute a through ball from Kilkenny was picked up outside the box by Beckford who ran in to score with two taps of the ball, 2-0.

Becks had a similar chance two minutes later which sailed over the bar.

Jonathan Douglas made a welcome return to first-team action when he replaced Johnson in the 82nd minute. Freedman walked off to a standing ovation, in the 90th minute, when he was replaced by Tresor Kandol.

In the final minute of injury time Howson made a run with the ball that covered half the length of the pitch. He fired in a shot that was tipped over the bar.

United ran in deserved winners with their best performance since before Christmas. They leapfrog the Saddlers to move up to eighth in the table and two points away from the play-offs.

Attendance 19,095.

Leeds United 2 Walsall 0

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