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The BBC's Steve Wilson
"Even suggesting they might steal a point"
 real 28k

Sunday, 26 December, 1999, 16:51 GMT
Leeds march on in style

Goalscorer Bowyer challenges Leicester's Oakes

Leeds 2-1 Leicester

Leeds United came from behind to march on at the top of the Premiership, although this game should never have finished with the sides so close in terms of the scoreline.

Match facts
10 mins: Tony Cottee converts an early chance
29 mins: Michael Bridges grabs an equaliser
45 mins: Lee Bowyer seals the win for Leeds
Tony Cottee put the Foxes ahead after ten minutes, but Michael Bridges and Lee Bowyer gave Leeds a half-time lead, which they carried to the finish.

The second half saw Leeds in complete control, and they should have been out of sight long before a couple of nervous moments towards the end.

The match began with a fierce atmosphere whipped up from the Elland Road stands.

Emile Heskey was at the centre of a "diving" storm after the Worthington Cup fourth-round clash between these clubs at Filbert Street 11 days ago.

Cottee and Bridges both scored
Leeds skipper Lucas Radebe was sent off after a collision between the two players, and the Yorkshire fans did not let Heskey forget the matter.

The England man almost silenced the critics inside the opening five minutes as a delightful ball played behind Radebe picked out the England international for a first-time right-foot drive which flashed a yard wide of Nigel Martyn's post.

The woodwork came to Leicester's rescue less than three minutes later as Harry Kewell headed against the bar from close range, before Muzzy Izzet cleared Lee Bowyer's rebound off the line.

But after 10 minutes Leicester capitalised on poor defending by right-back Gary Kelly to take the lead against the run of play.

Steffen Oakes received the ball on the Leicester left and delivered a cross which was too high for Heskey.

But Leeds will have been hugely annoyed that the diminuitive Cottee was able to rise unchallenged and head into the bottom right-hand corner.

There was further drama in front of the Leeds goal when recent signing Darren Eadie was fouled by Nigel Martyn just outside the area.

The England keeper was given a yellow card, before the free kick from the left only just evaded Leicester heads in the box.

Kewell magic

Leeds' hitman Michael Bridges scored just before the half hour but it was magical play from Harry Kewell which created the goal.

Kelly fed the Australian, who beat Gerry Taggart and crossed for Bowyer - who dummied - before Bridges fired in off the post.

Leeds then grabbed a second in first half injury time, an even better-worked goal with Kewell again the instigator.

A through ball to Bridges allowed the goalscorer to become creator and pick out Bowyer steaming through from the midfield.

The England under-21 international controlled the pass first time, took Taggart out of the game with a little flick, and finished with a venomous right-foot shot into the top right-hand corner.

Leeds increased their control of the match in the second half, as Leicester were pressed further back by the creativity and hard work of the Premiership leaders.

Huckerby and Bridges both had chances to increase the lead, and a third goal for the home side appeared inevitable with the visitors creating nothing and being over-run in midfield.

But too often the young Leeds forwards ignored better-placed team-mates, and Leicester stayed within reach of securing an unlikely point.

They also had French keeper Pegguy Arphexad, in for the injured Tim Flowers, to thank for two marvellous saves.

Kewell's diving header and Ian Harte's free kick were both acrobatically turned aside as Leeds swept forward.

And the home side almost paid for their profligacy when Cottee and Heskey briefly threatened to create an equaliser.

The big young England man was most guilty, placing a header from seven yards straight into Martyn's hands with ten minutes to go.


Leeds: Martyn, Kelly, Radebe, Woodgate, Harte, Bowyer, Bakke, McPhail, Kewell, Bridges, Huckerby. Subs: Wilcox, Mills, Jones, Duberry, Robinson.

Leicester: Arphexad, Elliott, Taggart, Gilchrist, Sinclair, Savage, Izzet, Eadie, Oakes, Cottee, Heskey. Subs: Gunnlaugsson, Campbell, Thomas, Zagorakis, Hodges.

Referee: M Halsey (Welwyn Garden City)

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See also:
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Flo upstages Tiss return
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Spurs bounce back
26 Dec 99 |  FA Carling Premiership
Ardley dents Hammers
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Leeds back on top
Links to other FA Carling Premiership stories are at the foot of the page.