DEMOTED to train with the Aston Villa youth team after being publicly criticised by manager Steve Bruce, former Leeds United striker Ross McCormack has had better weeks.
One of them came four years ago this coming weekend when the Scot’s second-half strike for Neil Warnock’s Whites sent Tottenham Hotspur crashing out of the FA Cup fourth round.
Leeds will face a very different test in the FA Cup four years on with non-league Sutton United set to host Garry Monk’s men in one of the ties of the fourth round.
United will be strong favourites but the boot was on the other foot this weekend in 2013 when Tottenham arrived at Elland Road sitting fourth in the Premier League with Leeds 11th in the tier below.
Even though they were missing top scorer Luciano Becchio who had handed in a transfer request, Leeds were able to boast of having the likes of McCormack and Sam Byram in their ranks but one star name stuck out like a sore thumb in the Tottenham line-up – Gareth Bale.
Former Whites star Aaron Lennon also started for the north London side as boss Andre Villas-Boas set his clear sights on reaching the next round.
The visitors made a host of early chances but Gylfi Sigurdsson was among those unable to supply the finishing touch.
But Leeds needed no second invitation on their first foray forward as Luke Varney gave the Whites a 15th-minute lead.
Poor Tottenham defending allowed Varney to get away from Kyle Naughton and Stephen Caulker to send Elland Road wild.
Predictably, Spurs came roaring back but Leeds custodian Jamie Ashdown would prove a tough nut to crack and denied Huddlestone, Bale and then Clint Dempsey.
Spurs were then given a scare at the other end as half-time neared as McCormack was only kept at bay by a decent block by Brad Friedel.
But United’s and McCormack’s threat was there for all to see and the Scot then brilliantly doubled the home side’s lead five minutes after the break.
Friedel was left with no chance as McCormack turned inside Caulker before powering a drive past the Spurs keeper whose side looked down and out.
But just six minutes later the tie was very much back alive after ‘magic man’ Bale supplied a cross for Dempsey to nod home, just moments after missing a better chance from six yards out.
Cue the onslaught was the natural thought, but it never arrived and the Londoners were actually indebted to Friedel for keeping out a Leeds third as McCormack looked to finish off a pacy counter attack.
Spurs substitute Jonathan Obika then had a chance to bag an equaliser but Lee Peltier saved the day with a brilliant challenge.
Even Friedel was sent forward as Spurs looked to force a replay but Leeds would not be denied and only the full-time whistle denied the Whites a third when Austin’s long-range effort flew into an empty net.
“I really enjoyed the match,” said Whites boss Warnock.
“It was a typical FA Cup game. They were like that when I was a kid.”
FA Cup 4th round: Leeds United 2 (Varney 15, McCormack 50) Tottenham Hotspur 1 (Dempsey 57)
Leeds United: Ashdown; Byram, Peltier, Lees, White; Green, Austin, Brown, Varney; Diouf (Pearce 90), McCormack (Somma 90). Subs not used: Kenny, Tonge.
Tottenham Hotspur: Friedel; Naughton (Walker 66), Caulker, Vertonghen, Assou-Ekotto; Lennon, Parker, Huddlestone (Obika 58), Bale; Dempsey; Sigurdsson (Dembele 58). Subs not used: Gomes, Dawson, Livermore, Townsend.
Referee: Kevin Friend.