The class of Gary Speed – a topic of discussion revisited in Leeds during past fortnight – was the difference between Leeds United's appearance in round three of the League Cup in 1995 and elimination at the hands of Notts County.
Notts County 2
Leeds United 3
League Cup round two, second leg
Meadow Lane, Wednesday, Oct 3, 1995
United were pleased to see the back of their third division opponents after a narrow victory in the second leg at Meadow Lane followed a goalless draw at Elland Road.
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Only through Speed's 90th-minute goal did Leeds avoid the unwanted tension of extra-time in front of an away crowd.
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His outstanding winner was his second strike in successive games, coming on the back of the effort which helped to settle a Yorkshire derby against Sheffield Wednesday four days earlier.
Howard Wilkinson cut a relieved figure after his team set in motion a cup run which would carry them to the final at Wembley.
"You're going to make hard work of winning matches if you defend like clowns," Wilkinson said with his usual frankness.
"We had enough possession to win two games but each time we got our noses in front we committed crucial errors.
"But there've been occasions in this competition in the past when we've played much better than this and lost.
"At the end of the day, we got the result."
County's goalless draw in Leeds on September 19 made an upset possible, if not likely, at Meadow Lane but twice United appeared to have fought them off.
Gary McAllister scored in the 16th minute, running onto Brian Deane's header and beating County goalkeeper Darren Ward, and Andy Couzens struck late in the second half.
But United's persistent hosts found a means of replying on both occasions.
Devon White levelled McAllister's finish within six minutes when he picked himself up from a foul by David Wetherall and dispatched a penalty with supreme confidence.
Less than 60 seconds after Couzens converted Tony Yeboah's cross, White struck again by latching onto a through ball from Tony Agana and angling the ball beyond a helpless John Lukic.
It did not aid Leeds to see County captain Gary Strodder sent off on the hour for a second bookable offence, and the game was heading in the direction of extra-time when Speed had his say.
The midfielder collected possession close to the halfway line and broke towards County's box before guiding a left-footed effort past Ward.
With seconds remaining, County had no chance of responding for a third time.
"We gave them a good run for their money," said Colin Murphy, County's manager.
Wilkinson agreed, remembering well the defeat to Mansfield Town which had eliminated Leeds from the same competition 12 months earlier.
He consoled himself with a place in the third-round draw which
presented United with a visit to Derby County.
United: Lukic, Wetherall, Kelly, Beesley, Palmer, McAllister (Wallace 46), Tinkler (Worthington 84), Speed, Couzens, Yeboah, Deane. Sub (not used): Masinga.