TWO DISALLOWED first-half goals for Leeds United`s Jermaine Beckford did not deter him from scoring the eventual winner at the Community Stadium, as this narrow 2-1 reverse proved a very lucky seven indeed for the visitors.
Profiting from some slack Alan Maybury defending, a weak backheader ushered in Beckford, who found the net with all the aplomb of someone getting goals for fun in League One.
Their victory, a seventh in succession for Leeds, came uncannily in the two sides` seventh all-time meaning, and helped the Yorkshire side keep pace with fellow pull-away leaders, Charlton Athletic.
Not even a U`s equaliser to Leeds` opening goal in the game, a fine header from Bradley Johnson, could derail the runaway train that they are fast becoming.
The slight Maybury and sub striker, Clive Platt, both returnees to the home squad, had any impact dimmed at the expense of a successful, if at times physical, approach. Was it passionate play or an underhand attitude? A case of dirt-tactics or pure determination?
Indeed, Maybury`s yellow card, during an incident which provoked a push from eventual gaolscoer Johnson, came amid a flurry of cautions from the referee. This either proved, since Colchester had more, that they couldn`t cope – and Maybury although working hard didn`t handle his direct opponent`s sheer size – or that Leeds physical style was recognised as underhanded and curbed as such through adequate punishment.
Whichever, Leeds got the result which vindicated their methods and to suggest that the officiating was less than charitable on Colchester is wrong, since Lisbie`s foul after contact with defender, Rui Marques, was a touch fortunate, although justly won through a goal-threatening turn on the inside. However, it was perhaps less of a penalty claim than when Lisbie was later felled again in an almost identical position. On both occasions though, he was denied a clear goalscoring opportunity.
Midfielder David Fox had Colchester`s first chance, following a Robert Snodgrass effort via a free-kick and the first of Beckford`s non-goals, which saw Leeds challenge Ben Williams` net. But for a fine intervention from Shane Higgs, a pinging shot from Fox could have capitalised on a speedy Colchester breakaway by giving them the lead.
Leeds` Beckford, already troubling imposing defender, Magnus Okuonghae, profited from a pinpoint pass from strike-partner, Luciano Becchio, but was again victim of the offside flag, seeing to no avail the ball bobble at the back of the net.
Williams faced the prowling Beckford again as the U`s stopper pulled-off a reaction save after twenty-five minuets; taken unawares by an Okuonghae half-clearance, Williams used his legs to skilfully avert the renewed danger. Beckford however showed his fiery said when he was booked for pushing U`s skipper, Pat Baldwin following yellows for both Maybury and Johnson during their near-touchline fracas.
Both speedy U`s winger, Ashley Vincent and Snodgrass had decent efforts before the break, but with Leeds just shading the opening exchanges, the scoreline stayed blank at the interval.
Half-time: U`s 0 Leeds 0
Snodgrass, tipped by Leeds fans before the match as a Scotland international in waiting, helped Leeds finally break the deadlock just after the restart. Another free-kick from him was delivered to Johnson, who beat Baldwin to give his team an early-half advantage and his third goal in as many games.
Simon Hackney and Fox fought in out for the right to test Higgs shortly after conceding. Hackney, who scored a late set-piece during a recent League Cup loss, won out and almost repeated the feat, forcing his opponent into a fine save in the middle of the goal. It fizzed up and over the bar for a corner. An inch either way towards the corner of the goalmouth, though, and Colchester could have been celebrating an instant leveller.
Colchester`s renewed perseverance was rewarded when Lisbie converted his penalty just before the hour-mark. U`s fans deliriously drowned out the charts of ‘Super Leeds United` with the own almost identical version for the man of the moment.
A pumped-up Lisbie continued to make those darting runs which are his trademark and cause Leeds more problems – the U`s were unlucky not to win a second penalty as he again tested the referee`s resolve after being hauled down – and also fired over a good chance from inside the area, having harnessed possession just inside the
Leeds however came again as defensive confusion and a half-header from Maybury allowed Beckford to bag his brace. Despite one promising slalom run from largely ineffectual substitute, David Perkins and also a tame set-piece effort by fellow reinforcement, Anthony Wordsworth, Colchester failed to convert from any other clear-cut shots and ended the day as losers on during a match characterised by marrow margins and two defensive mistakes.
U`s: Williams, Maybury, Okuonghae, Baldwin, Tierney, Vincent (Perkins 75), Fox (Wordsworth 84), Izzet, Hackney, Vernon (Platt 67), Lisbie. Subs: Cousins, Thomas, Holt, Lockwood.
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