LEEDS UNITED’S relationship with the play-offs is not a particularly enriching one, but the mention of two words is bound to bring a smile of satisfaction to Whites supporters, however fleeting.
They were uttered by an impassioned Scot nine years ago in May 2006 after his Preston North End side drew 1-1 in the first leg of their Championship play-off semi-final at Elland Road.
The man in question being Billy Davies, with his fateful two words being: ‘Job done.’
Those two words came to haunt Davies and Preston in the second instalment at Deepdale and also the club’s tannoy announcer who, ahead of kick-off, said: “Welcome to our penultimate game before we reach the Premiership.”
An unlikely source in Frazer Richardson provided one of the goals, with the other coming from more familiar outlet in Rob Hulse, with Leeds getting over the line in stand-out fashion – despite finishing the game with nine men with Stephen Crainey and Richard Cresswell dismissed.
Richardson and Jonathan Douglas were restored to the side in place of David Healy and Eirik Bakke who dropped to the bench, with captain Paul Butler again unavailable.
A feisty clash prevailed from the kick-off, although the first significant action proved a wholly wretched moment for Brett Ormerod, who caught his foot in the turf and broke a fibia – with Preston’s night subsequently going from bad to worse.
Hulse and Claude Davis soon clashed as tempers got frayed, with feuds started to be played out across the pitch.
It was somewhat surprising that it took half an hour for the first caution with Shaun Derry yellow-carded for a challenge on Marcus Stewart and in the final minutes of the half, the names of Kilgallon and David Nugent were added to Mike Thorpe’s notebook.
As Thorpe blew for half-time, Deepdale and the surrounding streets were plunged into darkness due to a sub station failure that took 25 minutes to resolve. To the relief of everyone, the fault was fixed and the team came out at 9.10pm for the second half, although in hindsight, the hosts would have been forgiven for wishing the game was abandoned.
United came out with increased tempo and attacking intent and shocked the hosts by taking the lead on 56 minutes.
United won a corner on the right, taken by Gary Kelly and while appeals by Derry for a foul on him took the attention for a couple of seconds, Hulse stayed alert at the back post to flick the ball past Carlo Nash.
Liam Miller then sent Hulse clear on the left of the penalty area and his low cross reached Richardson at the far post and he fired the ball past Nash to make it 2-0.
North End soon received a more welcome development when Crainey was sent off after 69 minutes for a second bookable offence for hauling down Nugent.
Preston thought they had pulled one back when Tye Mears headed home a Graham Alexander corner, but the effort was disallowed after it was ruled that the ball curled out of play.
Not long before the end, a mass brawl in the penalty area led to Kelly and Douglas being booked after a clash between ex-Preston man Cresswell and Nash.
Substitute Cresswell then received his second booking and left the fray early but the visitors were not to be denied as they enjoyed the last laugh at the expense of Davies, with Blackwell and his players basking in the glow of victory.