What a difference two years makes. Leeds preview

Last updated : 01 October 2004 By Michael Morris

This weekend Cardiff City entertain Leeds Utd. It's the game that all City fans looked for first when the fixtures came out.

The clubs have been apart for years, but in 2002 they were drawn together in the FA Cup. City always get crap FA Cup draws but this time was the exception.

City were Division 2, Leeds were top of the Premiership. David O'Leary's squad included Rio Ferdinand, Alan Smith (now both with Man Utd), Lee Bowyer (Newcastle), Jonathon Woodgate (Real Madrid), Mark Viduka (Middlesbrough) and Robbie Fowler (Man City) to name a few. (Match report here)

Over 22,000 in Ninian Park for the live Sky game. Things were going to plan for the Premiership leaders when Mark Viduka slammed home an opening goal.

Things swung City's way though. Firstly Graham Kavanagh scored direct from a free kick and then as half time approached Alan Smith was sent off for violent conduct against Andy Legg.

Scott Young made a superb defensive tackle to deny Viduka and then the Rhondda man was the hero as he popped up in the box to score a late winner for the Bluebirds.

Leeds have not been the same since. They lost their Premiership lead and dropped down the table. We went on to get promoted. Two years later they were relegated and now we face them at the same level.

Leeds are a totally different team. With debts closing in on £100m they had to sell and get rid of players. Out went all the household names and they have assembled in comparison a modest squad as they hope to get back to the Premiership.

This Saturday there are no tickets on sale. Please purcahse before the ticket office closes at end of business on Friday. Anyone registered on the CCFC database can buy upto 5 tickets.

On the pitch City have to find replacement for Graham Kavanagh and Alan Lee. Both are suspended after reaching 5 bookings for the season at Wolves last weekend.

Lee will be replaced in the starting line up by Andy Campbell. Kavanagh by Willie Boland. The only space in the squad for a new face after Campbell will be on the bench. That could by Byron Anthony.

Campbell missed last weeks squad to be wih his partner who was giving birth.

"Nobody would be more pleased than me to see Andy do well," Lennie told the Western Mail.

"I would love him to score against Leeds. I'd love him to play well and score the winner because he's a good kid.

"He's had a difficult time here because he's been Earnsaw's understudy for the best part of two years. Earnie was a scoring phenomenon, and he's paid a price for that.

"He hasn't played too much and, because he's an explosive player, his stamina and ability to last the 90 minutes of games is difficult.

"We need to get cracking and, for him to get a run, Andy needs us to show what he can do on Saturday.

"He's played wide-left, played wide-right and occasionally played with Earnie, but it never really quite worked.

"He deserves his chance and now he just needs to go out there and grab it."

City probable

Warner, Williams, Gabbidon, Vidmar, Barker, McAnuff, Boland, O'Neil, Parry, Thorne, Campbell.

Subs. Alexander, Collins, Anthony, Bullock, Robinson.

With injuries to Margetson, Page, Weston, Croft, Langley, Fleetwood and suspentions to Kav and Lee we don't have an awful lot left.

Another issue that cannot be over looked is the City manager.

He has miraculously survived despite defeat after defeat. A good win at Milton Keynes in the cup and a superb victory at Wolves have just papered over the cracks of Lennie's struggling tenure.

He may be forced to fall on his own sword if things go wrong tomorrow.

"A lot of opinions have been voiced after three, four, five or six games. That's not how it used to be but I have to cope with that," Lawrence said a few weeks ago. "People should look at the table after 12 matches. It won't lie then. You won't be in an artificial situation after 12 matches."

Well Lennie Leeds is match 12. It was the FA Cup game in 2002 that saw Lennie arrive at the club to be a director of football. Alan Corks subsequent departure saw Lennie take over. How ironic Leeds Utd could also be his last game.

In Lennie's own words the table doesn't lie after 12 games. We are already struggling against relagation and will continue to do.

City are expecting the biggest crowd of the season for a re-run of the 2002 classic and whatever happens, win lose or draw there will be plenty to talk about.

Cardiff City v Leeds Utd
Saturday 2nd October 2004.