A look back to September, 1993.
With the Whites in Premier League action against Southampton at St Mary’s Stadium this weekend, Ben Scott takes us down memory lane by recalling a classic encounter against the Saints from 1993.
In the early 1990’s Leeds United and, notably, Gary Speed revelled in playing Southampton. The Saints had gone four without victory versus Leeds, shipping 10 goals in the sequence with 50% of them inflicted by Speed.
As Leeds wrapped up a win on the south-east coast, it would be Speed again basking not just the Hampshire sun, but in glory.
The first-half saw little to trouble Leeds, despite the relatively young age of the back four - an average of only 21! Southampton’s go-to creator and goal scorer, Matt Le Tissier, was easily kept at bay and offered little threat to Leeds’ goalkeeper Mark Beeney. Le Tissier’s strike partner Iain Dowie was similarly kept out of the game.
With a stranglehold on the game, the Whites were heavily influenced by the fact that their midfield was the famous title-winning quartet of Speed, David Batty, Gordon Strachan and Gary McAllister. The midfield experience and quality would have a helping hand in both Leeds goals that came in the second half.
For Ian Branfoot, the Southampton boss, the only real event of note for his side in the first half was an injury blow as the home team saw Ken Monkou depart midway through the half after a clash of heads with Brian Deane.
After the break, Leeds were now attacking the goal with their large and vociferous support housed behind it and five minutes into the half, the celebrations began.
Leeds won a throw in down the far left. Batty took it to the bafflingly unmarked Strachan, who quickly cushioned the ball back to him. Batty then had the time to dig a cross out from the byline for Deane on the near edge of the six-yard box. The Leeds-born striker withstood the pressure on him and sent a sweet header into the far corner, past Tim Flowers between the posts for Southampton.
Leeds then became relentless in the search for another goal. That focus and effort eventually paid true dividends for Howard Wilkinson’s team. It was epitomised no more so than when, in the final minute, who else would lead the charge but 36-year old Strachan.
He harried one defender, winning the ball back on the dead-ball line, then out-witted another as he came further back into the penalty area and laid off a ball which Speed relished latching onto.
The Welshman charged in and smashed a first-time, left foot shot home from just outside the six-yard box. That gave him the remarkable sequence of now six goals in a dozen games against Southampton.
This gave Leeds a real spring in their step and they would go 12 more matches after this without defeat, and finish a very creditable 5th in the league.