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19 Nov 2018 08:35pm, by Shields53

In memory of Liam Miller, 1981-2018

Southampton 3 (Pahars 27, Quashie 35, 45 pen)
Leeds United 4 (Butler 71, Blake 77, Healy 84 pen, Miller 86)
Saturday, 19 November 2005

When people talk about the greatest comebacks ever, this will rank with the best. When they talk of significant turning points it would also rank high on the list.

To be dead and buried at 3-0 at half time then rise like Lazarus was a miracle indeed. Its significance to Leeds went deeper than that. It showed that fighting spirit and determination can affect matches. It turned around the whole attitude of Leeds United from a bedraggled inconsistent outfit, seemingly going nowhere in another season of mediocrity into a phoenix rising from the ashes of total destruction. In twenty minutes, it gave the team the belief that they could perform consistently at that level and proved a springboard for the resurgence of their push towards regaining their Premier League status.

To put the game in its true context, for seventy minutes Leeds were truly awful and clearly second best to an outfit that had totally dominated the first half and were good value for their 3-0 lead. Marian Pahars, returning after long–term injury, gave Southampton a well deserved lead after twenty-seven minutes in a move straight from the training ground, when scoring from close range. Nigel Quashie, who dominated the midfield for over an hour, made it 2-0 after teenage sensation Theo Walcott had tied Matthew Kilgallon in knots. The third came on the stroke of half-time, when Dan Harding got himself into a panic, after Matt Oakley’s header caught him out and the defender inexplicably blocked it with his hands. The referee was left with no alternative than to point to the spot. Nigel Quashie made no mistake with the penalty kick just on half time and the Leeds fans were left wondering just how humiliating the defeat would be. It was observed that Chairman Ken Bates left at half time but Charity benefited when the Mirror jumped to a wrong conclusion that he had left because he could not bear to see more.

Half-time saw vital changes take place as the reason for Southampton’s first half dominance was disrupted. Their midfield of Matt Oakley, Nigel Quashie, Dennis Wise and Marian Pahars had so dominated, that they were able to pour forward at will through an almost non-existent Leeds engine-room, to exert pressure on an overworked defence. Marian Pahars was replaced by Neil McCann, after running out of steam and Tomasz Hajto and Ricardo Fuller replaced Claus Lundekvam and Dennis Wise, causing Southampton to lose their total dominance. Still there was no sign of things to come as Neil Sullivan was twice called upon to make stunning saves to keep United from total capitulation.

After sixty-seven minutes United made the move that was to be the catalyst for the game being turned on its head. The ineffective Frazer Richardson was withdrawn and David Healy came on and instructed to push up front. His arrival gave United what they had been lacking. He provided inventiveness; and Liam Miller suddenly came to life and became a major influence on the game.

Even when the never-say-die Paul Butler headed home a Gary Kelly cross with nineteen minutes to go, it appeared to be no more than a consolation goal. “We’re going to win 4-3,” chanted the travelling faithful, more in jest than any firm belief.

Six minutes later the tireless Robbie Blake got his reward as David Healy set him up for the second goal. It gave United thoughts of salvaging a draw. Danny Higginbotham, whose confidence had severely wilted in the United onslaught, gave Leeds that chance when he handled a David Healy shot and the Irish International made no mistake from the spot after eighty-four minutes.

It was 3-3 and still six minutes left, the great escape had happened and United would have had every reason to be happy with a draw. Not likely! They just kept on attacking as Southampton defended desperately. Rod Hulse unselfishly laid the ball back into the path of the onrushing Liam Miller and the loan player celebrated his second match by firing the ball unerringly into the Southampton net to make it 4-3 in the eighty-sixth minute.

The comeback was complete, and the Southampton players looked to the heavens for inspiration while the Leeds players celebrated as if they had won the World Cup.

For more great Leeds United games and a comprehensive history of the club visit OzWhite's Leeds United F.C. History.

17 Nov 2018 12:08pm, by Shields53

There is no doubting that we played some fabulous football earlier on in the season, Leeds United were the talk of the Championship. But for all those praising Bielsa ball there were those waiting for the bubble to burst and ‘pop’ there it went with defeat to Birmigham City. It’s fair to say we haven’t hit the same form since then, a mixture of wins, loses and draws due to injury and inconsistent performances.

But this is the Championship and all the early front runners have suffered highs and lows and despite our inconsistent form we remained in the hunt taking top spot back with a win against Wigan. Still in the hunt for promotion, you can hop over to here to back the team to make it to the Premier League. Then came West Brom, four second half goals from the Baggies with only a late consolation from Pablo Hernandez gave us our worst defeat of the season. West Broms own recent form had been poor after the early season high of stuffing QPR seven one.

A reality check some might say. But we are Leeds United fans, fifteen years out of the top flight and a rollercoaster ride of a past means we are generally pretty grounded anyway. A Leeds fan learns never to get too carried away, because it usually ends in tears anyway. Even when we were setting the Championship alight earlier on in the season most people were expecting the inevitable fall from grace just as we did last season.

As has been pointed out many a time the team starting every week is largely the same team that played last season. We have spent nowhere near as much as our rivals, have a small squad size and have been unlucky with injuries but we are still there or there about. The Championship is after all the most competitive of all the celestial gambling related football leagues, everyone is capable of taking points of everyone else and has done so far. There are only 7 points between first and tenth. Norwich, a team we soundly beat earlier on in the season, are now top after a streak of five wins.

The international break gives us time to reflect on our recent results and if any manager in this league is capable of analysing performances it is Marcelo Bielsa. But he must reflect on his own decisions and selections too. It’s clear he favours certain players over others but there has very much been a sense of square pegs in round holes when perhaps more appropriate players have been available in particular positions. This was in particular evidence against West Brom when we were overrun and caught out in several areas of the pitch.

Has the bubble burst? No, it was always going to be a long season. Was West Brom a reality check? Perhaps but we always knew the quality and depth of our squad. Is our season over? Absolutely not, we’ve beaten some of the best teams in this league and can continue to do so. With teams taking points off each other left right and centre any team that goes on a run will find themselves up at the top. There is no reason we can’t still be in contention come the end of the season.