Times rather different as Leeds United await forthcoming Tranmere Rovers trip
LEEDS United will face an early trip to Tranmere Rovers at the start of the forthcoming campaign.
Leeds United’s under-21s that is.
United’s youngsters will head to Prenton Park for the first of their Papa John’s Trophy games against the League Two Merseyside outfit on Tuesday September 14.
Yet, 14 years ago, Leeds were locking horns with Tranmere in the league and United needed a late winner from Tresor Kandol to seal a victory that took the first chunk off the club’s 15-point deduction.
Leeds were taking in their first ever league fixture against Rovers, having previously only met the Merseyside outfit in two FA Cup and two League Cup clashes.
But United’s relegation from the Championship in the 2006-07 campaign meant the two clubs were now league rivals for the very first time, and a trip to Prenton Park served up United’s first test of the season on Saturday August 11, 2007.
Even without kicking a ball, Tranmere also lined up 15 points ahead of Leeds, who were forced to start the season with a huge points deduction for exiting administration incorrectly ahead of the new campaign.
Tranmere’s side featured former Whites youngster Shane Cansdell-Sheriff as well as Zola – Calvin Zola that is, not Gianfranco.
This was all very different to what Leeds had been used to in the Premier League, and after three years in the Championship the Whites were now faced with the doldrums of League One.
A crowd of 11,008 witnessed the club’s first ever game in the third tier of English football and matters for the Whites did not begin well.
Rovers threatened even before they took the lead when Zola controlled a knock-down at the edge of the box and unleashed a rising drive which flew narrowly wide past a diving Casper Ankergren.
United’s Danish ’keeper was then forced to make a smart double save amidst hesitant defending to a long ball.
But Tranmere would not be denied the opening goal, which arrived in the 22nd minute as Chris Greenacre tapped home from close range following a Chris Shuker cross and a flowing Rovers move which began deep in the Whites half.
The hosts then pushed for a second and Shuker saw his claims for a penalty waved away after his mazy run into the box.
The Merseyside outfit looked to have doubled their lead when netting from close range early in the second half, only for Leeds to be saved by an offside flag.
Leeds then went close as Alan Thompson’s free-kick from the edge of the box was deflected just wide.
But it was from another Thompson free kick soon after that United drew level, Thompson’s floated delivery from the corner of the box being guided home via a close-range header from Matt Heath.
Back came Tranmere and Cansdell-Sheriff went close when firing wide following a one-two with Zola, who proved a menace throughout.
Both sides then pushed for a winner and Whites boss Wise sent on Tore Andre Flo to replace Curtis Weston as part of a frantic fixture that featured seven bookings.
As Whites stopper Ankergren and Tranmere ’keeper Danny Coyne pulled off further saves, the contest looked destined to end all square.
Yet Leeds were to provide one final twist, and it arrived in the 89th minute as Kandol converted from close range.
A throw-in on the right touchline led to an opportunity for Andy Hughes to send in a cross and the Whites midfielder’s delivery sailed all the way to the back post.
Tranmere were unable to clear and Kandol pounced with the most unorthodox of finishes via a stooped header from a stationary position from close range.
A spectacular somersault celebration in front of the ecstatic away end followed and Leeds in League One were up and running.
Down to minus 12, that is.
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Thank you Laura Collins