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Page last updated at 20:51 GMT, Monday, 12 May 2008 21:51 UK

Leeds 1-2 Carlisle

By Mandeep Sanghera

Leeds striker Dougie Freedman (left) scores a late goal in the 2-1 defeat to Carlisle in the first leg of their League One sem-final play-off
Freedman (left) finally beats Carlisle's inspirational keeper Westwood

Dougie Freedman's late first-leg strike gave Leeds hope in their League One semi-final play-off against Carlisle.

Carlisle took the lead after Simon Hackney's volley was deflected in off the back of Danny Graham.

Visitors keeper Keiren Westwood was in heroic form and he superbly denied Freedman and Jermaine Beckford.

Marc Bridge-Wilkinson slotted home to extend Carlisle's lead but Freedman scrambled in on 95 minutes to pull one back ahead of Thursday's second leg.

Leeds still face an uphill task if they are to make the final as Carlisle have the best home record in the division this season.

The Elland Road side should have made more of their own home advantage with a passionate crowd behind them.


But Carlisle put on an impressive performance and Leeds were given an early scare when a tame headed clearance resulted in Bridge-Wilkinson volleying against the outside of the post from a Graham cross.

Manager Gary McAllister's side responded with Freedman almost putting them ahead only for Carlisle keeper Westwood to excellently palm away his curling shot at full-stretch.

The home side looked uncertain at the back and Graham had a far post header saved before Westwood bettered his earlier save by getting his fingertips to Beckford's goalbound shot.

It proved a crucial save as Carlisle immediately went up the other end to rock their rivals by deservedly taking the lead from a corner which should have been a goal-kick.

Leeds defender Bradley Johnson (left) tackles Carlisle midfielder Marc Bridge-Wilkinson
Bridge-Wilkinson (right) scored Carlisle's second at Elland Road

The corner piece was only cleared to Hackney and he unleashed a volley from the edge of the area which took a deflection off Graham's back to leave Casper Ankergren rooted to the spot.

Westwood was playing a pivotal part in the game and he again denied Beckford by saving the striker's close range angled shot.

Carlisle showed more energy and movement than their rivals and Bridge-Wilkinson pounced on some sloppy Leeds play only for Ankergren to save his effort.

But, almost immediately, the Carlisle midfielder was on hand to sidefoot in from Evan Horwood's low cross to extend his side's lead.

Carlisle grew more intent on protecting their lead as the game progressed and Westwood again foiled Leeds as he tipped over a looping header which came off team-mate Paul Arnison.

Westwood was finally beaten when a long-diagonal free-kick deep into stoppage time fell to Freedman and the Leeds forward put a close-range shot through the keeper's legs.

  • Leeds boss Gary McAllister:
    "It (Freedman's goal) keeps us in the tie.

    "The goal just puts a different picture on the game.

    "I've got to applaud my players for their effort. They kept going way past the 90 minutes."

  • Carlisle manager John Ward:
    "We've come to Leeds with a 40,000 crowd baying for blood and have stood up to it exceptionally well.

    "Not only that but we have played some good football. Both teams have tried to attack, go forward and provide entertainment as well as try to win.

    "I've got to be happy with a goal lead as things could be a lot worse."

    Leeds: Ankergren, Richardson, Huntington, Michalik, Johnson, Prutton (Carole 78), Douglas, Howson (Hughes 90), Kilkenny, Beckford (Kandol 58), Freedman.
    Subs Not Used: Lucas, Marques.

    Booked: Hughes.

    Goals: Freedman 90.

    Carlisle: Westwood, Arnison, Livesey, Murphy, Horwood, Dobie, Lumsdon, Bridge-Wilkinson, Grant Smith (Thirlwell 79), Hackney (Taylor 69), Graham (Madine 90).
    Subs Not Used: Howarth, Campion.

    Booked: Dobie, Arnison.

    Goals: Graham 32, Bridge-Wilkinson 50.

    Att: 36,297

    Ref: Tony Bates (Staffordshire).

    see also
    Who will make play-off finals?
    08 May 08 |  Football

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