Thursday, 17 March 2011

Connolly on the way back

Paul Connolly put himself in contention for a first-team recall at Sheffield United with a 90-minute appearance for Leeds United’s second string last night.Connolly came through a second reserve appearance in the space of eight days to prove his fitness and stake a claim for a role in Saturday’s Yorkshire derby at Bramall Lane.
The right-back has not featured for United’s first team since pulling a hamstring in the club’s victory over Coventry City on February 5, but his comfortable outing in a 6-0 rout of Gateshead has given manager Simon Grayson the option of recalling him ahead of on-loan Aston Villa defender Eric Lichaj.Connolly featured at centre-back last night and was joined in United’s line-up by seven other senior players. Club captain Richard Naylor did not play at Elland Road despite being named in the original starting team.The weight of experience on the side of Leeds threatened to tell from an early stage, and goalkeeper Jonny Ball kept Gateshead in the game by blocking three attempts in quick succession from Ross McCormack, Ben Parker and Ramon Nunez.
Gateshead’s best chance fell to Gary Mulligan, whose glancing header found the safe hands of Shane Higgs, but the Blue Square Premier club fell behind in the 31st minute when Nathan Turner slipped in behind their defence and knocked a pass from Nunez under Ball’s body.Nunez removed any doubt about the outcome by striking in the 63rd minute, his fifth goal in two reserve games, and McCormack and Sanchez Watt rounded off the scoreline with two classy finishes apiece in the final 20 minutes

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