PROBLEMS at Derby County cost Steve McClaren his job this week – again.
Nineteen years ago this weekend it was George Graham’s Leeds United giving Jim Smith’s Derby headaches as part of a 5-0 romp at Pride Park.
Gary Rowett – named on Tuesday morning as McClaren’s successor – started the game in Derby’s back four.
High-flying Leeds approached the clash on the back of a 4-0 hammering of Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road and proved even more prolific on a first-ever first to the newly-built Pride Park.
The fixture was County’s first-ever meeting with Leeds at the new stadium following their move from the Baseball Ground in the summer.
Wearing their yellow and blue halved Packard Bell away shirts, United took an eighth-minute lead after Rams defender Jacob Laursen got himself in a pickle from Garry Kelly’s left-flank free kick.
Kelly whipped an inviting ball through the Rams penalty area and Laursen was credited with getting the final touch as the defender and Mart Poom failed to clear under pressure from Alf Inge-Haland.
Derby hit back by going close through Paulo Wanchope whose looping attempt was held safely by Nigel Martyn but Leeds immediately countered and doubled their lead through Gunnar Halle. Jimmy Floyd-Hasselbaink raced away down the left wing, killing Derby for pace, and bisected the defence with a low cross that was raced on to by Halle who fired across Poom into the opposite corner.
Leeds were 2-0 up after just 36 minutes and things got even better just six minutes later after brilliant work from Harry Kewell.
Once again, Derby had no answers to pace as Kewell made giant inroads down the left flank before delivering a cross into the area that the Rams initially cleared.
Halle and then Haaland were both thwarted by desperate defending but the loose ball broke for Lee Bowyer who leathered a powerful effort that was too hot for Poom to handle and went straight through the keeper into the back of the net.
A skin-headed Bowyer raced away to celebrate in front of the delighted travelling away fans behind the same goal and those fans then had two more reasons to celebrate in the second half, and almost three.
A terrific long-range effort from Halle clipped the outside of the post but there was no denying Leeds a fourth goal one minute before the hour when Kewell played a deadly one-two with Hasselbaink before keeping a cool head and firing past Poom from just inside the penalty box.
Kewell was then taken off for a fresh-faced Stephen McPhail with 19 minutes remaining and just one minute later McPhail’s wonder-pass supplied the lethal Hasselbaink with the goal that his performance so richly deserved.
From a Derby free-kick, McPhail received the ball just outside of his own penalty area and delivered a superb raking ball that cleared Derby’s back line and allowed Hasselbaink to stroll in on goal one-one-one before easily beating Poom.
Leeds were surprisingly beaten 3-0 at West Ham in their next game but their clear promise was there for all to see and Graham’s men finished fifth in the Premier League. That was Leeds’ highest finish for three years – qualifying for a return to the UEFA Cup the following term.
Derby County 0
Leeds United 5 (Goals - Laursen (og 8), Halle (36), Bowyer (42), Kewell (59), Hasselbaink (72))
premiership pride park, sunday, march 15, 1998
Derby County: Poom, Stimac, Rowett, Dailly, Laursen (Delap 82), Powell (Powell 46), Eranio (Hunt 33), Carsley, Burton, Wanchope, Baiano. Subs not used: Hoult, Willems.
Leeds United: Martyn, Radebe, Halle, Harte, Kelly, Hiden, Haaland, Molenaar, Bowyer, Kewell (McPahil 71), Hasselbaink. Subs not used: Beeney, Wetherall, Hopkin, Matthews.
Referee: S Lodge.
Leeds United’s League One play-off hopes suffered a setback after they were held to a 3-3 draw at Port Vale. Dougie Freedman scored twice for the Whites but they were thwarted due a stoppage time Luke Rodgers equaliser.
Leeds beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 to go into the draw for the FA Cup semi-final for the first time in 10 years. Two long-range strikes from John Stiles and Micky Adams sealed the win. Leeds went on to lose 3-2 to Coventry in the semi-final at Hillsborough.
Elland Road boasted its largest ever crowd of 57,896 as Leeds and Sunderland met in an FA Cup fifth-round replay. Due to an overflow of fans in the Lowfields Road end, a crush barrier collapsed and fans spilled onto the pitch which caused the game to be paused for 15 minutes as ambulances were called. The game finished 1-1.
Leeds United paid a club record £10,000 to sign centre-half Freddie Goodwin (pictured) from rivals Manchester United. During his time at Elland Road, Goodwin was beset by injuries including a triple leg break which ended his career in 1964.