Leon Wobschall looks back at the final part of six great Leeds United games of the 80s and 90s to celebrate the Elland Road career of Gary Speed.
Leeds United 4 Sheffield United 0
Divison Two, Elland Road, Monday, April 16, 1990
FULL Speed Ahead was the joyous YEP headline following United’s seismic victory over their White Rose promotion rivals, with the hosts happy bunnies following an Easter Monday to savour in front of a bumper crowd of 32,727.
United recorded their biggest victory of a thrilling campaign and the emphatic triumph over Dave Bassett’s Blades was made all the sweeter after a worrying haul heading into the game of two points taken from the previous 12 available.
A turbo-charged finish which saw United plunder three goals in the last 16 minutes got their promotion bandwagon back on track, with Speed providing the coup de grace by way of a memorable fourth in front of a packed Kop.
Legions of supporters have been recalling that memorable moment in their tributes to the Welshman this week, with the legendary line uttered by United’s club commentator John Boyd when Speed hared away to fire home an angled strike – “Go on Gary Speed, get one yourself, son” – remembered with fondness.
That strike crowned a superlative month for Speed, whose star was shining in a big way, so much so that he went on to receive the Barclay’s Young Eagle Of The Month award for April after netting in back-to-back home derbies against Bradford and the Blades and in the away draw at Brighton.
The Whites drew first blood on 18 minutes when the irrepressible Gordon Strachan settled the nerves, firing in after Paul Stancliffe blocked Chris Kamara’s shot almost on the line. But the game remained in the balance until the 76th minute when Leeds got a two-goal cushion, and it owed much to the fastidious homework of boss Howard Wilkinson.
Renowned for his meticulous planning, Wilkinson had ordered his strikers to pressurise Blades keeper Simon Tracey at every opportunity. And it worked a treat when Tracey, concerned after another of his attempted kick-outs was charged down by Chapman, elected to throw the ball.
From that, Leeds quickly regained possession and Speed’s cross resulted in Chapman firing his 11th goal in 18 outings following his £400,000 move from Nottingham Forest.
It knocked the stuffing out of the Blades, with United going 3-0 up on 82 minutes when a flustered Tracey kicked the ball unwittingly against Bobby Davison, who was promptly brought down with Strachan coolly converting from the spot.
Speed provided the icing when a gutsy challenge from Kamara sent the midfielder clear and after a 70-yard dash, he sweetly struck the ball low past Tracey – an iconic moment in a vintage season.
United: Day, Sterland, Beglin, Jones, Fairclough, McClelland, Strachan, Kamara, Chapman, Davison (Shutt), Speed.