Memorial match: Liverpool 0-1 Leeds United
Ahead of Saturday night’s trip to Anfield to face Liverpool, Ben Scott returns to Saturday 9th April 1995 to relive a classic encounter against the Reds.
Six days after lifting the League Cup, Liverpool suffered a home defeat against Howard Wilkinson’s organized and resilient Leeds United side.
A healthy crowd of 37,454 saw a Brian Deane goal on 29 minutes which ensured Leeds would venture back onto the M62 with all three points, in game 36 of the 42-game season.
Leeds had easily seen off Ipswich 4-0 at Elland Road in midweek and set themselves up well for this game, which would be much harder work.
The level of scoring chances in the clash ended fairly evenly, with both teams having a couple each in what had become a low-scoring game – just 13 goals conceded in total over the last seven league meetings, with Leeds having taken a respectable eight. point.
On the day, Whites goalkeeper John Lukic started and finished the match as the busiest of the goalkeepers. David James was the man between the sticks for the Reds.
Lukic was first called upon when he tried to clear a dangerous ball that fell invitingly for Robbie Fowler, but the striker saw Lukic respond brilliantly and push his effort over the bar. Great reflexes by Lukic, who showed the skills that had made him league champion three Aprils earlier.
Liverpool introduced debutant Mark Kennedy in the 72nd minute but he was denied a goal by a superb Lukic save after the former Millwall winger sent in a threatening, long-range drive.
With Lukic showing such quality, it was easy to understand how this was the 15th time this season Leeds had not conceded a game. They would win 20 games and achieve a total of 73 points. The reward for that was fifth place and entry into next season’s UEFA Cup.
High praise must also go beyond Leeds’ goalkeeper. His full-backs, the ever-present Gary Kelly on the right and Tony Dorigo on the left, did a good job of containing the danger posed by the likes of John Barnes, Steve McManaman and Mark Walters.
Further up the pitch, Gary McAllister ran the central midfield area with an assured and classy presence. The Scot was a key link in Leeds’ attacking play, helping his younger team-mates Carlton Palmer and David Wetherall contain the potential danger of strikers Ian Rush and Fowler. Of course, in 2001 Fowler and Rush had played for Leeds and McCallister with the Reds!
The visitors’ attack was a constant annoyance to Liverpool defenders, none more so than Harrogate-born John Scales and his defensive partner Neil Ruddock. “Razor” Ruddock was clearly aware of the danger his father Tony Yeboah, Leeds’ goal machine, posed.
The African striker had just scored eight goals in six games and Ruddock at one point hacked Yeboah with a cynical challenge which Keith Burger, the referee of the day, quickly punished – one of the more glaring mistakes he will have witnessed in his career. .
The only goal of the game saw Yeboah kick the ball forward for Gary Speed, in a central role. His quick thinking and quick feet put him ahead of Scales and Ruddock and he aimed for the finish. His low right-footed shot rebounded off the post and, with the qualities of any good striker, Deane was already looking for rebounds. He was entitled to do so and from seven yards he smashed the ball past James with a low and hard effort.
That wasn’t the only panic Deane and Leeds caused the hosts during the game. The striker also narrowly missed a header near the post from a Rod Wallace cross. Palmer and Speed also had efforts and McAllister hit the crossbar after early build-up with Yeboah.
But one was enough, as the Whites ran out winners at Anfield.