When Leeds United just held on in seven-goal thriller but poignant clash against Glenn Roeder's West Ham

ANOTHER week, another Whites Premier League first.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 7th March 2021, 5:36 pm

This time, on Monday night, comes Leeds United’s first ever fixture against West Ham United at the London Stadium.

Up until May 2016, the Hammers took in their home fixtures at the historic Boleyn Ground – also known as Upton Park and the club’s home since 1904.

And Leeds have every right to miss it given that the Whites were unbeaten in their last seven visits there, including a frantic 4-3 triumph in November 2002 as part of the season in which West Ham went down.

HEATED: Leeds United striker Mark Viduka, right, argues with West Ham's Tomas Repka, third from left, as Ian Pearce and Paolo Di Canio also become involved in the seven-goal epic of November 2003. Photo By Ben Radford/Getty Images.

The pressure was mounting on both Whites boss Terry Venables and Hammers manager Glenn Roeder, who sadly passed away last weekend.

Leeds were four months into the tenure of Venables, who had replaced David O’Leary in the summer.

West Ham had finished seventh the previous season and were only two places behind the Whites – although 13 points adrift of them.

But the Hammers had got off to a dreadful start to the 2002-03 campaign, kicking off with just two draws and four defeats from their first six games.

Away wins at Chelsea, Sunderland and Fulham gave the Hammers hope, but a 1-0 loss at home to Everton and a 2-0 reverse at Liverpool followed before the Hammers lined up against the Whites.

Leeds, meanwhile, were juggling their league bid with a UEFA Cup run and started the season by amassing 12 points from a possible 18 through four victories – including a 1-0 success at home to arch-rivals Manchester United.

But the Whites then went six league games without a win only taking three points via three draws in the games that followed the Red Devils success.

West Ham lined up with a side hardly befitting relegation fodder with the likes of David James in goal, Michael Carrick and Joe Cole in midfield and Jermaine Defoe and Paulo Di Canio up front.

Defoe, still in action today for Rangers, was just 20 years old.

Leeds, though, drew first blood when Harry Kewell latched on to a poor back-header from Ian Pearce and lobbed James to leave Nick Barmby with an open goal and head United into an 11th-minute lead.

The Hammers came roaring back, and a low 30-yard drive from Michael Carrick was saved by Paul Robinson but only parried into the path of Di Canio, who smashed the ball home from close range in the 21st minute.

The Italian whipped off his shirt in celebration but Leeds went back ahead just seven minutes later as Kewell was left all alone to rise high and head home Ian Harte’s corner at the near post.

Harte then played a pivotal role as United went 3-1 up four minutes before the break as his cross was flicked by Eirik Bakke into the path of Kewell, who smashed home a volley into the bottom left corner.

Things got even worse for the Hammers four minutes later as a Christian Dailly back pass was intercepted by Mark Viduka and the Australian rounded the onrushing James before slotting home into an empty net.

Viduka celebrated with his arms wide open in front of furious Hammers fans to a chorus of loud boos – but the hosts then threatened to pull off an amazing comeback.

The second half was only five minutes old when Gary Kelly caught Di Canio for a stone wall penalty – which the Italian striker blasted into the bottom left.

Then, with 16 minutes still on the clock, Trevor Sinclair headed home a Sebastien Schemmel corner to bring the Hammers to within one goal of the Whites.

And Leeds had to survive some very nervy final moments, particularly when Pearce sent a header just wide when looking to make an epic game 4-4.

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Thank you Laura Collins