Sunday, 27 February 2011
SWANSEA 3 LEEDS 0
The Liberty Stadium was packed to the rafters for what was billed as big game in the race for promotion and United were backed by 3,000 travelling fans, many leaving at 5am due to the early kick-off.
It was a tentative opening, and after Alex Bruce made on early block, Stephen Dobbie hit the upright with a low strike after Nathan Dyer created the opening.
Dobbie and Dyer were early threats for the home side as Swansea looked to respond to the full house crowd by putting Leeds under pressure.
And Swansea went ahead in the 13th minute, courtesy of Scott Sinclair. Sinclair collected the ball out on the left and advanced before playing a neat one-two which saw Luke Moore slip the ball back into his path to apply the finishing touch.
Moments later, Bruce made another block to deny Dyer as United were forced firmly on the back foot by the hosts. Dobbie also caused problems with a mazy run that ended with Joe Allen sending a shot high over Kasper Schmeichel's bar.
Leeds only had limited possession during the opening 20 minutes and were guilty of dwelling on the ball and allowing Swansea to capitalise. That said, Robert Snodgrass did test the hands of Dorus de Vries after cutting in from the right, but as the home side broke quickly Schmeichel had to save from Dyer before another Swans effort was deflected for a corner.
United were having a hard time of it, and Alex Bruce found himself in the book for a challenge on Dyer, despite appearing to win the ball. Grayson was also spoken to by referee Phil Dowd for protesting about the decision.
Swansea didn't maintain their early pace, but they had another opportunity when an Ashley Williams header was pushed over following a corner. Andy O'Brien cleared the danger when the ball was returned to the box.
But Leeds were screaming for a penalty on 41 minutes when a Snodgrass shot was blocked Alan Tate, and United claimed a handball. Television pictures appeared to support the claim that Tate had used his hands and the protest continued to the extent that Neil Kilkenny was booked as he lined up to take the corner.
Leeds were looking more fired up, and Somma threatened on the stroke of half-time when he had a header touched onto the bar. Max Gradel also had a shot blocked by Williams.
United had gone in at the break on the front foot and Grayson was looking for his side to come out in the same manner after the re-start.
Tate had to make one early block and Somma was denied by an offside flag as Leeds made an encouraging start to the second period, but Schmeichel was still called upon to catch a Dyer header.
But just nine minutes into the half, Dowd wasted no time in awarding Swansea a penalty after Gradel was adjudged to have brought down Dyer. Sinclair was the taker and tucked the ball low to Schmeichel's right hand side to make it 2-0.
And Swansea immediately had a decent chance to further that advantage when Dobbie played in Luke Moore who was denied by the legs of Schmeichel.
United did have an opportunity to get back in the game on the hour, but de Vries got a touch on Somma's chip when the striker was clean through on goal.
On 61 minutes, Grayson made his first change when introduced Sanchez Watt in place of the hard-working Becchio. His first real involvement was to win a free-kick, and the subsequent booking of Angel Rangel, Swansea's first yellow of the game, brought a huge ironic cheer from the travelling fans.
But it was Schmeichel was called into action again on 67 minutes when he had to get down low to get a decisive touch on a Mark Gower free-kick. Sinclair also came within a whisker after showing great skill to turn and then shoot while advancing in the box.
A quickly taken free-kick gave hope as Somma looked to latch onto a incisive pass forward, but he was beaten to the ball by de Vries and Swansea immediately moved the ball the length of the field to score a third. Dobbie was again involved and Moore applied the finishing touch, stabbing a shot wide of Schmeichel and just inside the post.
Grayson responded with a double change, Ben Parker replacing George McCartney, who was walking a tightrope after being booked, and Billy Paynter came on for Snodgrass.
United did have an opportunity as the game headed towards its inevitable conclusion, Watt putting one wide after good work by Gradel and Paynter.
Not surprisingly, given the strength of United's support, the final 15 minutes were played out to a defiant backdrop of singing from the travelling masses. That chorus became even louder as the final whistle approached and not even the beating of a Swansea fans' drum could drown out the noise being made by the United faithful.
Paynter attempted to give the fans something else to shout about in the final moments when he had a shot on goal, but de Vries had his effort covered. Somma also tried his luck with an effort which went over the bar.
Two minutes were added on at the end of normal time, but it mattered little as United slipped to yet another defeat in a country that has proved to be something of a graveyard for the club over the past 30 years.