How Leeds United have already leapfrogged Crystal Palace ahead of Australia date

Leeds United are awaiting their next battle against Crystal Palace who will present the club’s final opponents upon the summer tour of Australia.

The Whites and Eagles will then lock horns in the first of next season’s two league meetings between the two sides at Selhurst Park over the second weekend in October.

By then, Leeds will be ten games into the new campaign.

But back in mid-January 1992 the Whites were on their way to becoming champions of England, Howard Wilkinson’s side taking another point via a thrilling 1-1 draw against a plucky Palace at Elland Road.

FUTURE AND PRESENT: Eventual Leeds United 'keeper Nigel Martyn towers above Leeds United's Gordon Strachan for Crystal Palace in the First Division clash between the Whites and Eagles of January 1992. Picture by Varleys.

Wilkinson’s side were looking to bounce back from a 1-0 defeat at home to arch rivals Manchester United in a midweek FA Cup clash that came on the back of a 6-1 romp at Sheffield Wednesday in the league.

Prior to the Owls thrashing, Manchester United had also knocked Leeds out of the League Cup through a 3-1 win at Elland Road.

But the Whites were to have the last laugh and the biggest one of all by winning the league and Alex Ferguson’s side were given false hope of Palace causing an upset at Elland Road

Under the care of boss Steve Coppell, the Eagles had finished the previous season in third place behind only champions Arsenal and runners-up Liverpool. Palace had ended up five points clear of fourth placed finishers Leeds who were in their first season back in the country’s top flight.

But Wilko’s Whites went three places better the following year and only the woodwork denied Leeds another win against a Palace side destined to end the season in tenth place.

Ian Wright had left Palace for Arsenal in September but the Eagles side that lined up at Elland Road still featured Mark Bright and Marco Gabbiadini upfront plus Andy Gray in midfield.

Current England boss Gareth Southgate formed part of the Palace back line that also included Lee Sinnott and a future Whites keeper in Nigel Martyn.

For Leeds, Gordon Strachan returned having missed the last two games with a shin injury suffered in the cup clash against title rivals and arch enemies Manchester United.

No doubt to the Red Devils’ delight, Strachan’s side fell behind to Palace in the 17th minute as a free-kick was only headed clear to Geoff Thomas who walloped a ferocious volley past John Lukic from the edge of the box.

The goal sent the visiting Palace contingent into raptures but Leeds produced a strong response with Strachan again pulling the strings.

The Scot played a precise ball down the right hand channel for Gary McAllister to latch on to and the winger’s pull back from the byline set up Steve Hodge who was twice denied by two smart stops from England no 3 Martyn.

Martyn, though, was powerless to prevent the Whites from equalising just before the half hour mark as Gary Speed flicked on a corner which flew across the face of goal and Chris Fairclough arrived at the back post to convert.

Speed was playing upfront for a side who had recently lost Lee Chapman to a broken wrist and Speed came within inches of putting his side in front after the break.

David Batty released Strachan down the right hand side of the box and Strachan sent in a floated cross towards the far post that Speed headed against the bar from close range.

In a case of deja but down the other side, Batty then played in Tony Dorigo down the left and Dorigo’s cross found Fairclough who flicked the ball onto Rod Wallace.

Wallace was presented with just Martyn to beat some six yards out but his attempt at a blockbuster rising volleyed finish was also kept out by the crossbar.

It meant the contest finished all square as Palace extended their unbeaten run against Leeds to six games but Wilko’s Whites were on their way to becoming champions of the land.