Leeds United eyeing a repeat of history on top-flight derby return

LEEDS United did not let Sheffield United get away for long.
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After a six-year absence of Whites/Blades Yorkshire derby, the two sides slugged it out four times during the 2017-18 and 2018-19 Championship campaigns.

Chris Wilder’s outfit had by far the better of things, boasting three wins to United’s one and then ultimately promoted to the Premier League in May 2019 as Championship runners-up.

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As Leeds faltered late and fell from second to third, it meant the Yorkshire derby was again off the agenda last season with the Blades enjoying their first season back in the country’s top flight.

DERBY DELIGHT: Gary Speed and John Pearson celebrate during Leeds United's 2-0 victory at Sheffield United in September 1990 - the first top-flight clash between the two sides since 1976. Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images.DERBY DELIGHT: Gary Speed and John Pearson celebrate during Leeds United's 2-0 victory at Sheffield United in September 1990 - the first top-flight clash between the two sides since 1976. Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images.
DERBY DELIGHT: Gary Speed and John Pearson celebrate during Leeds United's 2-0 victory at Sheffield United in September 1990 - the first top-flight clash between the two sides since 1976. Photo by Ben Radford/Allsport/Getty Images.

Yet one year on, White Rose rivalries will again be renewed at Bramall Lane tomorrow for what will be the first top-flight derby between the duo in 26 years.

The two sides battled it out eight times in the country’s top division at the turn of the 90s with Leeds’s 2-0 win in Sheffield in September 1990 providing the aperitif for sealing the First Division title at Bramall Lane the following season.

Three decades have passed since Sheffield United and Leeds United renewed a top-flight rivalry that had been frequent during various eras in the two clubs’ histories.

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It all began in the old Division One with a 1-1 draw between the two sides at Bramall Lane back in November 1924.

Ninety six years later, the two sides will now lock horns for what will be their 81st competitive Yorkshire derby in tomorrow’s high noon showdown at Bramall Lane.

And while Leeds went eight games at Bramall Lane without a victory between 1993 and 2018, the turn of the 90s was definitely the Whites’ time.

Up until the Bramall Lane showdown of September 23, 1990, the two sides had not met in a top flight fixture since April 1976 when the Blades had left Elland Road with a 1-0 triumph, the season Sheffield United were relegated.

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By 1981 the Blades were down in Division Four but the Steel City outfit quickly worked their way back up with the two sides then resuming regular meetings in the second tier following the Whites’ relegation in 1982.

The Blades then went down in 1988 only to come back up the following season and in May 1990 the Yorkshire rivals went up to the top flight together with Howard Wilkinson’s Whites sealing the Second Division title on goal difference but with Dave Bassett’s Blades also promoted as runners-up.

It meant the top flight Yorkshire derby was back on the following season and goals from John Pearson and Gordon Strachan sealed Leeds a 2-0 victory en route to a fourth-placed finish which laid the foundations to becoming champions of England the following year – sealed with another win at Bramall Lane.

The Blades line-up featured a player who had helped Leeds to promotion the previous season in Vinnie Jones who then made his Sheffield United home debut against the Whites following his transfer for £700,000.Jones then went mightily close to giving his new side the lead when heading against the crossbar from a corner taken by another new recruit in Brian Marwood.

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But Wilkinson’s Whites went ahead with 20 minutes remaining when Gary McAllister’s cross from the right flank was converted by substitute Pearson with a header that looped into the net.

And Leeds doubled their lead with a bizarre yet fine goal that began with a Blades corner but ended up in a Whites attack as Carl Bradshaw was caught in possession on the edge of the Whites’ box.

Strachan then found himself in on goal but with half the pitch in front of him, yet the 33-year-old Scot raced in on goal, turned his man and then produced a neat, though possibly mis-hit finish, that led to the ball nestling in the bottom right corner with the derby spoils sealed.

Leeds were back in the big time, bragging rights were theirs and one year later the title would be theirs too.

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Thank you Laura Collins