When Leeds United were too good for Leicester City on another Monday night in Autumn

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LEICESTER City went the same way as Leeds United in 2004. Down.

It means that Monday evening’s clash between the Whites and Foxes will be another top-flight clash not experienced for 16 years.

Up until then, league battles between the duo had been relatively frequent with Leicester’s two relegations of that era both followed by immediate promotion.

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But on another Monday night in Autumn back in 1994, the two sides met in the top division for the first time in 23 years with goals from Gary McAllister and Noel Whelan sinking Leicester on the last ‘first game back’ against the Foxes.

MAGICAL: Gary McAllister, above, fired Leeds United in front against Leicester City in November 1994. Picture by Varleys.MAGICAL: Gary McAllister, above, fired Leeds United in front against Leicester City in November 1994. Picture by Varleys.
MAGICAL: Gary McAllister, above, fired Leeds United in front against Leicester City in November 1994. Picture by Varleys.

It was a season in which newly-promoted Leicester were immediately relegated with Howard Wilkinson’s Whites qualifying for Europe in finishing fifth, edging out sixth-placed Newcastle United by a single point.

Twenty six years later, the Foxes and Whites are both approaching Monday’s clash at Elland Road sat in the division’s top six with newly-promoted Leeds already looking like a side capable of rather more than the clear first aim of staying in the division.

Any improvement on last season’s finishing efforts for Leicester, meanwhile, would see Brendan Rodgers’ side qualify for the Champions League having sealed another Europa League place last term in coming fifth.

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Things were rather different the last time the two sides came together for the first top-flight clash after a long absence in October 1994 which presented the first top division league meeting between the two since United’s 1-0 win at Filbert Street in January 1981.

Both sides had then been down to the second tier since but it was United who had established themselves as one of the country’s leading top flight forces since having been crowned champions of England in 1992 with Leicester down in Division One.

Two years later, the Foxes were back as the previous season’s play-offs winners and Leicester arrived at Elland Road under the care of Brian Little and with Ripon-born former Whites youngster and future Leeds manager Simon Grayson lining up in defence.

Yet a Leeds side featuring a blend of experience and youth proved too good with the Whites drawing first blood in the 35th minute through McAllister.

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The Whites captain attempted to float in a cross from the edge of the box which was cleared by Mike Whitlow but straight to McAllister who then darted into the area before producing a fine curling finish into the bottom right corner to net against his former side.

Rod Wallace then almost doubled United’s advantage when firing just wide on the turn from a Brian Deane knock down and Leicester then drew level nine minutes after the break as Mark Blake was played in and neatly chipped the ball over the onrushing John Lukic.

But back came Leeds and after Gary Speed had fired just wide, Noel Whelan netted what proved the winner after finally getting the better of the crossbar.

Whelan was at first left frustrated as his shot cannoned back off the bar after latching on to a Deane header from a McAllister cross.

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But the United onslaught continued and from another cross from the left but this time from Tony Dorigo, Whelan rose high in the box before again heading against the bar but this time with the ball bouncing down over the line before Wallace netted the rebound.

With Leeds winning 20 of their 42 games in what was then a 22-team Premier League, the Whites again finished fifth but this time headed to Europe.

In finishing 21st, Leicester went straight back down, only to once again come up again.

The Whites and Foxes then had another 14 clashes in the top flight before both went down in 2004.

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Both have even experienced the doldrums of English football’s third tier since but those days are now long gone ahead of a top-flight top six battle on Monday night.

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Thank you Laura Collins

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