GARRY Monk has made a point of highlighting Leeds United’s ability to bounce back from defeat this term.
Head coach Monk’s Leeds United men have lost two games in a row just once this term and in nine losses since September, Leeds have followed a defeat with victory on seven occasions out of eight.
Following Saturday’s loss at Huddersfield Town, victory at home to Cardiff on Saturday would extend that sequence to eight perftect responses out of nine.
The weekend visit of the Bluebirds is a key game to United’s play-off prospects.
Bouncing back, though, was not something United found easy back in their Premier League relegation season of 2004 when 15 defeats between August and January were followed by victory just twice.
But Eddie Gray’s men at least offered some sort of hope 13 years ago this week when a 4-1 midweek in at home to Wolves ended a wretched run of seven-straight losses.
United’s woeful start to the season had already cost Peter Reid his job in November and an initial change in fortunes under club legend Eddie Gray was looking short-lived as the Whites entered February.
Come the Elland Road hosting of Wolves on Tuesday, February 10, Leeds were sitting bottom of the table having lost their previous six league games and having not won in eight.
Wolves, though, were having a wretched campaign themselves and approached the Elland Road clash just three points above Leeds at the bottom of the table.
The Tuesday-night fixture presented a true six-pointer and 36,867 fans packed into Elland Road to witness game that started at a frenetic pace.
Erik Bakke headed a Jermaine Pennant cross over as Leeds threatened to take an early lead before Jody Craddock squandered an opportunity for Wolves.
And it was Leeds who drew first blood after 14 minutes when Pennant’s cross was knocked down by Steven Caldwell to Alan Smith who squeezed the ball past Paul Jones.
Wolves took just seven minutes to equalise as a long-range effort from Viorel Ganea tied matters 1-1 and Colin Cameron then blazed an effort over the bar.
But Smith in particular was in determined mood for Leeds and his header led to Dominic Matteo putting the Whites back in front four minutes before the break.
Wolves almost levelled again when Bakke’s header went just wide of his own post but Leeds finally took control two minutes after the hour through an 18-year-old James Milner who was set up by Smith (who squandered two good chances soon after).
But United were now home and hosed and 3-1 became 4-1 in the 90th minute when Mark Viduka netted to make absolutely sure that Leeds jumped above Wolves on goal difference at the bottom of the league.
Finally, United regained that winning feeling yet only three of the club’s next 13 games followed suit.
The Whites stayed above Wolves on goal difference but the Tuesday-night clash of 13 years ago this week proved immaterial with both teams finishing in the dropzone and losing their proud place in the Premier League.
Leeds have not been back since, but a ‘bounceback-ability’ has Monk threatening to change that 13 years on.
Tuesday, February 10, 2004
FA Premier League
Leeds United 4 Wolves 1. Goals: Leeds - Smith (14), Matteo (41), Milner (62), Viduka (90). Wolves - Ganea (21).
Leeds: Robinson, Kelly, Caldwell, Matteo, Domi (Harte 45), Pennant, Bakke, Seth Johnson, Milner, Smith, Viduka. Subs Not Used: Carson, McPhail, Lennon, Richardson.
Wolverhampton: Jones, Irwin, Butler, Craddock, Naylor, Miller (Silas 62), Rae, Cameron, Kennedy, Cort (Iversen 77), Ganea. Subs Not Used: Oakes, Clyde, Gudjonsson.
Referee: M Dean (Wirral).