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Leeds United 2, Norwich City 1

PUBLISHED: 23:54 19 October 2009 | UPDATED: 08:43 01 August 2010

Stunned City players wonder how they let a point slip away after gifting Jermaine Beckford an injury-time Leeds winner. Picture: Paul Thomas / Focus Images

Stunned City players wonder how they let a point slip away after gifting Jermaine Beckford an injury-time Leeds winner. Picture: Paul Thomas / Focus Images

Chris Lakey

City slugged it out with the best that League One has to offer - and only one moment's dreadful lapse in concentration cost them a well-deserved point.

City slugged it out with the best that League One has to offer - and only one moment's dreadful lapse in concentration cost them a well-deserved point.

Goalkeeper Fraser Forster had made a string of quality late saves, including one superb stop to deny Jermaine Beckford.

But as the game moved into injury time and City looked headed for a deserved point, the on-loan Newcastle keeper made a complete hash of a goal kick. The ball went only as far as Beckford, who headed goalswards and made no mistake to put Leeds back on top of League One.

Forster left the field shaking his head - the blame was fairly and squarely on his shoulders as City's three-match winning streak came to an end.

City deserved at least a point against a side which just doesn't lose games at home - unless it's against Liverpool.

It was Grant Holt's 10th win of the season which looked like securing the point after Bradley Johnson put the home side ahead.

And when Forster made a magnificent one-handed save from the usually lethal Beckford, who then stabbed one wide from close in, it was the travelling City fans who were rejoicing.

But then fate intervened and dealt City a cruel, cruel blow.

City boss Paul Lambert made two changes, with Jon Otsemobor returning after a four-match injury absence to replace teenager George Francomb and midfielder Stephen Hughes replacing Korey Smith, whose thigh injury identified him as the mystery player whose fitness had been worrying the manager.

Leeds boss Simon Grayson named new loan signing from Wolves Sam Vokes, 19, alongside Beckford in attack, while another newcomer, Leicester winger Max Gradel, 21, was on the bench. Both were once team-mates at Bournemouth.

With just 33 seconds on the clock, Leeds' former Ipswich defender Richard Naylor had made his intentions known, smashing into Wes Hoolahan as they went for an aerial ball - and going straight into referee Lee Mason's book before disappearing for eight minutes for treatment to a head injury.

Mr Mason was busy early on, with Hughes booked for a late challenge on Jason Crowe before four minutes had passed.

For a game that promised so much in terms of quality, the early signs weren't good - but it burst into life on six minutes when City swept the ball from left to right and Darel Russell caught Otsemobor's cross from the right perfectly on the edge of the area. Keeper Shane Higgs didn't catch it cleanly and the ball popped up and almost went over the line before he clawed it away.

Vokes was given too much time at the other end, but his shot was poor and Forster watched it sail over his bar.

Chris Martin fired wide as City refused to be unnerved by the occasion, but it was Hoolahan who had the best chance on 12 minutes when Simon Lappin found Holt on the left edge of the area. Holt squared it left footed to Hoolahan who was unmarked eight yards out, but fired straight at the keeper, who again appeared unsure and somehow beat it away.

Just as City were finding their feet they were dealt a blow on 15 minutes when they went behind. Robert Snodgrass' corner from the right curled towards the back post and Johnson buried his header into the net - the assumption was that it was Otsemobor who should have prevented it.

Two good chances wasted by City - and when Leeds were presented with one they took it.

Leeds were forced to change their keeper on 17 minutes, Casper Ankergren coming on - presumably a clue as to why Higgs' had looked unsteady although his problem wasn't immediately apparent.

City now had to weather something of a storm, but Holt was lucky to escape with nothing worse than a talking to on 23 minutes after he hauled Naylor down as they jostled for position at a corner - a penalty looked more likely.

At the other end Holt headed wide as City pressed, but a poor clearance by Forster should have been punished by Vokes, who again shot high - as did Jonathan Howson moments later, although rather more impressively off target.

Beckford left Doherty for dead and showed a superb turn of pace, but his right foot shot was inches wide of Forster's right-hand post - the first real sign of the marksman's undoubted skills.

City might have been down, but they were by no means out and were playing their fair share of the good football - and on 38 minutes they got their reward. It was the result of some patient play by City, who had possession around a packed Leeds area, but waited for the right opening. Hoolahan couldn't find it, but Lappin could, sending in a curling left foot cross from the right. Holt muscled his way in front of Johnson at the back post some six yards out and forced it over the line.

“There's only one Keano” sang the City fans as their team established supremacy: the home fans in contrast were clearly frustrated.

There were anxious looks towards Forster in the early stages of the second half, with the keeper appearing to have problems with his back - although the signal to goalkeeping coach Paul Crichton who sprinted round towards his end of the pitch, was that he was okay.

City were still making a good fist of it, Doherty heading wide from a corner and then Jens Berthel Askou seeing a shot blocked by the keeper as City gained good territorial advantage.

City were getting the rub of the green as far as refereeing decisions were concerned - further frustrating the Leeds fans who were seeing their team come off second best all over.

All that was needed was a goal, which Holt almost provided on 67 minutes when Ankergren had to parry his shot from the edge of the box and moments later put a shot in the side netting after a Lappin corner. Russell was winning the running feud with Michael Doyle in midfield, while Holt was becoming increasingly difficult to cope with up front.

Forster was called into some rare action when he did well to beat away Robert Snodgrass' free-kick on 73 minutes, before Leeds doubled their aerial threat when Tresor Kandol replaced the ineffective Vokes.

City may be forever indebted to Forster, who preserved the status quo with a magnificent save to his right when Beckford broke clear on 84 minutes - and without fuss stretched full length to his left to deny sub Gradel.

Beckford wasted one three minutes from time when he poked it straight at the City keeper.

It was nail-biting stuff for the travelling City fans -and when Beckford slid in and poked Gradel's low cross wide of the post, it looked like it would be a happy ride home.

Then Forster made his mistake - and Beckford didn't need a second invitation.

t Leeds: Higgs (Ankergren, 17), Crowe, Naylor, Bromby, Hughes, Howson, Doyle, Snodgrass (Gradel, 80), Johnson, Beckford, Vokes (Kandol 74). Subs: Ankergren, Prutton, Kilkenny, Grella, Michalik.

Goals: Johnson (15)

Bookings: Naylor (foul on Hoolahan, 1), Doyle (foul on Russell, 64), Johnson (foul on Otsemobor, 70), Crowe (foul on Drury, 85)

t Norwich City: Forster 7, Otsemobor 6, Doherty 6, Askou 7, Drury 6, Russell 8, Lappin 6, Hughes 7 (Gill, 90), Hoolahan 7, Martin 6, Holt 7. Subs: Rudd, Gill, Cureton, Adeyemi, McVeigh, Daley, McDonald.

Goals: Holt (38)

Bookings: Hughes (foul on Crowe, 4), Russell (foul on Snodgrass, 59), Holt (90)

t EDP Man of the match: Darel Russell

t Att: 19,912

t Time added on: 2 mins / 4 mins

t Referee: Lee Mason (Lancashire)

t Stats

Shots on: Leeds 6, Norwich 3

Shots off: Leeds 7, Norwich 4

Fouls: Leeds 15, Norwich 15

Corners: Leeds 4, Norwich 8

Offsides: Leeds 6, Norwich 2

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