Leeds United spot on to beat promotion hopefuls

Sam Byram, who won an early penalty for Leeds United. Picture: IAN HARBER
Sam Byram, who won an early penalty for Leeds United. Picture: IAN HARBER
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MANAGER Neil Warnock was proud of the efforts of his players as Leeds United narrowly beat Leicester City to end their year-long run without a Tuesday night league win.

It was ugly at times, but the Whites defended superbly to cling onto the early lead given them by Luciano Becchio’s penalty to record a second successive victory over promotion hopefuls.

The 1-0 success had fans looking upwards again with United moving to within six points of a play-off place.

Delighted boss Warnock felt the result and performance paid a fitting tribute to Gary Speed on the first anniversary of the great player’s death.

He said: “Gary would have loved that, us getting stuck in, I thought it was fitting. It was a Gary Speed game, roll your sleeves up and not shirking a tackle.

“We beat the top of the league on Saturday, but Leicester are the best squad and you can tell that with the subs they made.

“But in both games we have deserved it. We played some good stuff, with flair, but also putting bodies on the line when we needed. We weren’t going to get beat.”

Leeds started where they left off in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace as they surged forward from the kick-off and were awarded a penalty only 96 seconds into the contest.

Right-back Sam Byram burst into the box and was brought down by Jeff Schlupp as he took on the left-back. Up stepped Becchio to send former team-mate Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way from the spot and his 12th goal of the season had given the Whites a dream start.

What followed was a game full of grit and honest play, but without much in the way of goalmouth incidents. Leeds did have one more decent chance in the opening half when Paul Green controlled a left foot volley well to bring a save out of Schmeichel, while Jerome Thomas went clear from an El Hadji Diouf pass only to allow Leicester defender Richie De Laet to recover and make a saving tackle in the box.

Leicester came within inches of an equaliser when Martyn Waghorn struck the crossbar with a powerfully struck volley from an acute angle. Paddy Kenny made easy saves to deny De Laet, Danny Drinkwater and Lloyd Dyer while Jamie Vardy sliced a shot wide when well placed in the area.

Thomas sent a curling shot wide for Leeds early in the second half, but a strong period of pressure saw the visitors dominate for a spell with Wes Morgan’s header saved by Kenny and Anthony Knockaert forcing another save with a well struck long range shot.

Substitute Michael Brown – on for Thomas – came within inches of a second United goal with a shot from the edge of the box, but for the most part the hosts settled for seeing the game out and they did it successfully with only one late alarm as Schmeichel’s long punt downfield bounced awkwardly and needed to be tipped over by Kenny.

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Becchio 3, pen)

Leicester City 0

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Npower Championship

Att: 17,717

Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Tate, Peltier, Green, Norris, Tonge, Thomas (Brown 61), Diouf, Becchio.

Leicester: Schmeichel, De Laet, Morgan, Whitbread, Schlupp, Marshall (Knockaert 56), Drinkwater, King, Dyer, Waghorn (Lingard 77), Vardy (Futacs 56).

Referee: Mick Russell.