The third round FA Cup clash that Leeds United will never forget
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Twelve cases of coming down at the first flight from their last 17 attempts, be it in the third round or even round one as a League One side.
Big problems and big upsets with Newport County, Rochdale and Hereford United all sending Leeds out in their first game of that particular year’s competition and Histon and Sutton United doing the same at the second hurdle.
Yet one result in particular ensured the third round still brings back very happy memories with Leeds causing the big upset in 2010 in their arch-enemy’s own back yard.
Eleven years on from the 1-0 success at Manchester United of January 3, 2010, the boot will be on the other foot for Leeds in tomorrow’s FA Cup third-round tie at League Two hosts Crawley Town.
Now Leeds have finally returned to the Premier League, there are 62 places between the two sides, yet 11 years ago the Whites were only one division higher than Crawley are today and set off over the Pennines to face a Manchester United side sitting second in the Premier League table having just thrashed Wigan Athletic 5-0.
Leeds were also flying at the top of their division, in League One that is, a 4-2 triumph at Stockport County giving them their eighth win from their previous 10 league games, the other two ending in draws.
Having also navigated JP Trophy ties against Grimsby Town and Accrington, plus overcoming FA Cup the hurdles of Oldham Athletic and Kettering (via a replay), Simon Grayson’s side lined up at Old Trafford on a 15-game unbeaten run yet still 42 places lower down the pyramid than their hosts who were also the defending champions of England.
What happened next has adorned many pages since, but one more time as third round FA Cup weekend arrives won’t hurt, Jermaine Beckford’s strike on 19 minutes sealing a famous 1-0 victory and a first triumph at Old Trafford since February 1981.
Beckford, though, fired an early warning with a dipping long-range effort in the 12th minute which ’keeper Tomasz Kuszczak saved.
But Kuszczak was then beaten by Beckford’s deft finish from a tight angle after latching on to Jonny Howson’s fine long ball seven minutes later and it was to prove the only goal of the game.
Luciano Becchio headed a good chance over the bar barely one minute later, and the Red Devils then finally produced a response.
Rooney would have drawn the hosts level when lobbing Casper Ankergren but Jason Crowe cleared off the line.
Rooney and Welbeck then fired shots wide with a header from Jonny Evans from a corner also missing the target.
The Red Devils again had their chances after the break but Ankergren produced a fine save to deny Welbeck and Sir Alex Ferguson looked to Antonio Valencia, Ryan Giggs and Michael Owen from the bench in search of a leveller.
Owen should have bagged one when miscuing his effort from Valencia’s cross while Rooney also missed the target from inside the box.
Yet Leeds continued to cause problems at the other end, Beckford firing just wide and Robert Snodgrass smashing a free-kick against the crossbar. Still defending just a 1-0 lead, there were some nervy moments in the final stages and goalmouth scrambles in front of 9,000 away fans.
But Leeds held firm to condemn their arch-enemy to their first third-round exit of Ferguson’s 23-year reign as manager and a first defeat in the competition under Ferguson against a lower-division side.
Leeds know all about suffering that fate but nobody will ever take away the memories of January 3, 2010.
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Thank you Laura Collins