ST JAMES’ Park awaits Leeds United on Friday as the Whites prepare for their first league game at Newcastle United’s famous home since January 2004.
But the fixture was a regular occurrence for 11 consecutive seasons before United’s relegation, with Tony Yeboah firing Howard Wilkinson’s Whites to a 2-1 victory over Kevin Keegan’s Magpies 22 years ago this weekend.
The victory provided the platform for Leeds to return to Europe the following season, with the Whites finishing one point ahead of the Magpies in fifth.
United had finished fifth the previous season, moving swiftly on from the effort of 17th as defending champions in the previous campaign.
The Magpies – who had been promoted back to the Premier League in 1993 – had quickly established themselves as a top flight force and finished third the previous season.
Both sides were on course for a top six finish the following term but it was Leeds who approached the April clash at St James’ Park with the bigger spring in their step having won five of their last eight.
Newcastle had won only one of their last four, a far cry to their blistering start to the campaign which began with a record-breaking six straight wins and then nine wins from their first 11 games. The sale of Andy Cole to Manchester United in January had started a downward spiral and Newcastle’s frustrations continued in the 24th minute against Leeds when defender Steve Watson produced his own ‘hand of God’ moment in an attempt to clear a left-flank cross from Tony Dorigo.
The defender dived through the air with an outstretched hand to clear just inside the penalty area and referee Paul Danson pulled out a straight red-card whilst awarding Leeds a penalty.
Gary McAllister stepped up to take the spot kick and confidently slammed the ball home past Pavel Srnicek into the bottom right corner.
But Newcastle took just five minutes to equalise through a stunning strike from Robbie Elliot.
Leeds looked to have cleared Peter Beardsley’s right-sided corner and there appeared little danger as the ball fell to Elliot some 25 yards out but the left-back produced a splendid low shot that whizzed through the Whites’ area and beat John Lukic at his left hand post.
Yet Leeds bagged what would prove the game’s winning goal just one minute later when a through ball allowed Tony Yeboah to race past the Magpies defence and caused Srnicek to take evasive and extreme action.
The goalkeeper raced some 35 yards off his line in a bid to clear the loose ball but Yeboah got there first and simply tapped the ball past Srnicek to give himself the easy task of walking the ball into an empty net. The striker raised his arms in celebration even before passing the ball over the line and there was no way back for Keegan’s Magpies.
Leeds went on to win their next three games, finishing the season with a nine game unbeaten run that saw Wilko’s troops return to Europe through UEFA Cup qualification by finishing fifth, one place and one point above Newcastle in sixth.
The Magpies then began the following campaign in devastating fashion – but famously lost out to Manchester United as part of an epic title race.
Newcastle Utd 1
Leeds Utd 2 (McAllister 25, pen, Yeboah 31)
Premiership, April 17, 1995
Newcastle United: Srnicek, Hottiger, Watson, Howey, Elliot (Neilson 50), Bracewell, Fox, Gillespie, Lee, Beardsley, Kitson. Subs not used: Hooper, Clark.
Leeds United: Lukic, Kelly, Pemberton, Wetherall, Dorigo, Palmer, McAllister, Speed, White (Worthington 73), Deane, Yeboah (Mainga 88). Subs not used: Beeney.
Referee: Paul Danson.
Attendance: 35, 626.
Leeds United recorded their first victory under new owner Massimo Cellino when they defeated Blackpool 2-0 in the Championship. Summer signing Luke Murphy opening the scoring from close range in the first half and then doubled the advantage when he dinked the ball over goalkeeper Matt Gilks after the break.
Striker Dougie Freedman scored twice as Leeds United came from behind to boost their promotion hopes by beating high-flying Carlisle United 3-2 in League One. Scott Dobie gave Carlisle the lead before Freedman bundled in an equaliser. Jonathan Howson then fired United into the lead only for Danny Graham to equalise before Freedman grabbed the winner from eight yards.
Leeds United were agonisingly dumped out of the FA Cup semi-final by Coventry City following a five-goal thriller at Hillsborough. David Rennie and Keith Edwards scored for Billy Bremner’s Whites but the Sky Blues booked their place at Wembley as they triumphed 3-2 thanks to an extra-time goal from Dave Bennett.
Goals from Allan Clarke and Norman Hunter earned Leeds United a 2-1 victory over Arsenal.