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Report from Mighty Leeds

9 February 1972 - Leeds United 2 Liverpool 0
FA Cup fourth round replay - Elland Road - 45,821
Scorers: Clarke 2
Leeds United: Sprake, Reaney (Jordan), Cooper, Bremner, Charlton, Hunter, Lorimer, Clarke, Madeley, Giles, Gray
Liverpool: Clemence, Lawler, Lindsay, Smith, Lloyd, Hughes, Keegan, Ross, Heighway (Boersma), Graham, Callaghan
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Despite the early kick off, on the day following the Anfield draw, Liverpool fans queued round the block for the 10,000 tickets allocated to away supporters. There were almost 46,000 supporters packed into Elland Road for the game, with hundreds locked out and many up on the roof of the nearby Old Peacock pub straining to view the action.

Jack Charlton was fit to return at centre-half after flu and Madeley wore the No 9 shirt in place of Mick Jones, who was laid low by the virus. Eddie Gray, recovered from an ankle injury, replaced Mick Bates on the left flank and young striker Joe Jordan was named as sub. Despite being nominally centre-forward, Madeley operated in midfield, with Billy Bremner playing in an advanced role.

For Liverpool, Bobby Graham came in for John Toshack and Phil Boersma took Graham's place on the bench.

Liverpool showed from the off that they meant business and were fully prepared to cause United some difficulties. Allan Clarke required treatment in the second minute after being brought down by Emlyn Hughes; seconds after the resumption, Gray was felled by a clumsy challenge.

Leeds were first to show a threat, however, and Terry Cooper prompted hopes of a goal when he skipped effortlessly past three defenders in a threatening run, but his angled shot from 20 yards flashed narrowly wide.

Liverpool broke back in the thirteenth minute when Ian Callaghan found Steve Heighway in the middle. The United defence shepherded him sideways, however, and when he fed Hughes, the shot from 25 yards went blazing high over Gary Sprake's bar.

Chances were few and far between, but United seized the initiative mid way through the half with an outstanding goal. Cooper began the move, which was taken up by Johnny Giles and Madeley. Norman Fox in the Times: "Bremner's excursions in the front line always worried Liverpool. His perfected changes of direction can never be anticipated and here, after 22 minutes, a superb twist and cunning pass began a move that quickly brought him back into action 10 yards further upfield, where he flipped the ball overhead to Clarke. Just as cleverly, equally nonchalantly, Clarke raised the ball high over Clemence and into goal." As the ball had dropped towards the penalty spot, Clarke had found Smith, Lawler and Lloyd bearing down on him menacingly and Clemence blocking his way to goal. He executed the move with a masterly piece of finishing.

Clarke: "I cannot remember much about the build up to the first. I saw the ball come over from Billy Bremner and I ran on, let it bounce and then tapped it over Ray Clemence. We had a talk about Liverpool before the match and one of the things which cropped up was that Clemence appeared to have this habit of coming off his line. So when I saw him running towards me I simply lifted it over him."

Leeds continued to dominate the first half, though Liverpool came close to an equaliser minutes before the break. They were awarded a free kick when Giles handled, and Larry Lloyd met the free kick from Hughes to nod against an upright. In the ensuing scramble Paul Reaney had to clear from the feet of Heighway before Tommy Smith crashed a shot from 25 yards over the bar.

Bill Shankly obviously spent his half time wisely and Liverpool came out strongly to force the home side onto the defensive. Boersma had been brought on for the struggling Heighway, who had clearly lost his confidence. Gary Sprake was forced to save in fine fashion from Callaghan's rising shot in the first few minutes.

United did manage to show they were still a threat: Hughes was booked after 49 minutes when he sent Cooper crashing to the ground and when the left-back's centre found Peter Lorimer, the Scot sent a fierce shot narrowly wide of the far post.

If the visitors dominated affairs immediately after the break, Leeds always had something in hand with their controlled, skilful play, as reported by Eric Todd in the Guardian. "For 18 minutes in the second half, the Leeds goal was under threat. And for those 18 minutes, Leeds gave an exhibition of what defensive play is all about. They were strong with it as well, passing to each other under Sprake's nose, and daring Liverpool to take the ball off them. Sometimes they did, and every time Leeds took it back, and started the whole business all over again."

Having calmly weathered the Liverpool storm, United doubled their advantage in the 63rd minute with a wonderful goal. Norman Fox: "Clarke's second and decisive goal was so much the product of individuality that it would have seemed impossible on the evidence of Saturday's taciturn teamwork. It was founded on a shrewd pass from Giles, out to the touchline near the halfway flag, where Clarke began his run. Lloyd converged and Clarke avoided him as if skipping over an irksome hurdle. Clemence came out; Clarke moved on. A sudden slight turn and Clarke had left Clemence on the ground and the ball was flying low through an absurdly small gap and into goal by the near post."

Referee Gordon Hill described it extravagantly as the greatest goal in the history of football. Clarke said after the game, "When I got round Larry Lloyd, I saw Clemence advancing so I let him come on. It was impossible for me to bend it round him because I was at a bad angle. He left about two feet between himself and the near post, so I aimed for it and in it went. Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't."

Clarke did not count it as his best goal. "That came, strangely enough, against Liverpool at Anfield when I was a Fulham player. I put the ball in the middle of the field and beat three or four men before sticking it in the net … Bill Shankly, I think, described it as the best goal he had seen scored at Anfield."

Goalkeeper Sprake preserved United's advantage when he launched himself across goal to push away a header from Bobby Graham. It was one of a number of impressive saves made by the Welsh keeper as he snuffed out the dying Liverpool threat. United were good enough to preserve their hard earned advantage and ended the game 2-0 victors.

At the close, Eric Todd acknowledged the contribution of Clarke, and not just for his goals. "I for one must, on this performance, revise my opinion of Clarke, whose undoubted talents are not usually revealed within his own penalty area. But here he was helping out in defence, spraying passes which Bremner and Giles would have envied, and scoring both goals into the bargain. Giles was his old self again, and with Cooper and Hunter quite unbeatable, Leeds looked what the world knows them to be - a solid, dedicated team, blessed with a mutual understanding given to very few."

Allan Clarke: "This was my answer to the critics who say I do not work hard enough. The boss has been on to me to get more involved and I enjoyed it this way."

Gordon Hill applauded the teams off at the end, saying, "I have never done anything like that before but it was my way of saying thank you to both teams for two tremendous games. I enjoyed being the referee. The second half will go down in soccer history."

Don Revie: "It was a great game but I don't think you can ever relax against a side like Liverpool. They are still one of the hardest sides in the world to beat."

It was typical of Bill Shankly, however, to comment, "Not been much in it apart from two clever goals."

Copyright - http://www.mightyleeds.co.uk

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