The draw extends the unbeaten run to 6 games ahead of another important week in the renewed evolution of the club. There is a positive buzz returning as a time the council set to meet regarding another important hurdle for the new stadium with positive signals already emerging.
The team, after a poor opening 45 minutes and half-time deficit - showed their fighting spirit to stage a brilliant recovery and completely outplay and overwhelm Leeds, it was magnificent to see. Perhaps the only disappointment was that City somehow failed to record the victory they would have fully deserved, they missed several good opportunities.
The supporters, on a day to test the most mild fan. Only 1,300 were allowed to go and by coach only. It was 12 hours on a coach to 'Elland Back, to be escorted by in and around Leeds with no bars inside or outside the ground to greet us, in the ground 90 minutes before kick-off, held back for 45 minutes after it finished and showed extreme good patience and understanding throughout. The singing and support was magnificent - my head is still hurting, my throat still sore - there was good banter with Leeds fans and the police alike and, let's gives ourselves the plaudits, we were bloody magnificent. Well done to all who were there, you were a credit on a day to savour. What a long day though.
Twenty five coaches headed out of South Wales, another (with a huge Swan logo on both sides) left London carrying South East fans. Despite major restrictions, every ticket sold quickly. We left Cardiff at 7:30am, had 4 pick ups en route, a service stop before arriving in the land of Heartbeat and Emmerdale, countryside everywhere, before meeting the place at the aptly named Wooly Edge services on the M1. All that and to think they call us sheepshaggers!
Once there, police held us for a while but allowed us off for fresh air. One copper got on board and read us the riot act but in a friendly way. "Any questions?" he asked. "Yeah, have you got any whippets" said a voice down the coach.
The coaches were escorted in groups of 9 or 10 for the last 20 miles into Leeds and Elland Road stadium with its enormous main stand visible from some distance away. The ground is situated just off a main carriageway so our only contact with home fans came as we arrived at the ground, the gestures and remarks to greet us entirely predictable but always funny. The coaches all parked up in a hastily erected holding area and we were escorted over the road ... singing so loudly that the whole of Leeds knew we had arrived, the excellent Billy Bremmner status outside even seemed to cower in awe of the decibels we were creating. Supporters groups laid wreaths at the status in memory of Leeds fans killed in Istanbul, a superb gesture but it sadly did not appear to get coverage locally.
Behind the Billy Bremmner status was the club shop completely covered in posters announcing that club shirts were selling for £9 or £15. Some pondered whether it was their closing down sale! And whilst talking about clothing, what about the Leeds officials? Must have seen two hundred or more of them in white shirt, Leeds tie and grey crombie overcoats. Did they get those coats in a job lot or were they undertakers in the week who helped out their club at weekends?
Anyway, it came to pass that we were inside the ground by 1:30pm, all alcoholic drinks kindly removed for the day and our food options were pies, burgers, crisps, chocolates, tea, coffee or soft drinks. The chicken balti pies were delicious. We were there for so - overall, we spent 4 hours in the ground! - that I know of some fans who had three or four of the things. The away section catering is also worthy of mention because it had plenty of cafe-style tables and benches to sit at, a bit cold in the middle of January but certainly different.
Programmes were £3, loads of pages, loads of gloss, loads of pictures but not that fantastic a read, it flattered to deceive - pretty much as Leeds United as a whole do these days. Not one page or comment in the programme welcomed Cardiff City, not the managers notes or supporters columns, quite unusual. I don't think they like us. The cover and an incredible ten pages inside were dedicated to Nathan Blake. Mind you, it only had about two pages worth of reading.
Blakey, on loan at Leeds, was injured (again) so missed out on the action but remarked about us, "I had a fantastic time at Cardiff, I loved the club and its fans, I know the supporters have a reputation but I don't talk about that. The were great to me when I was there and all that concerns me is the football, not who has the hardest fans". Youknowsit Blakey!
Still, plenty of time to kill so we went in the ground which was, to be frank, pretty disappointing. As Premier Leaders and Champions League semi-finalists only three years ago, I expected something grand. It wasn't. The design was poor, three old style stands of unequal design and proportion somehow bolted together with a fantastic main stand from inside and outside. That main stand - along one side of the pitch - was enormous and impressive. It went way back and had an upper shelf tier too. The rest was simply about converting an old stadium into newer at the cheapest cost possible.
Opposite the main stand, was a stand not too dissimilar to City's upper and lower grandstand. Behind one goal, was the split level Don Revie stand and the away end opposite was a converted terrace. The seats designated to us were roughly behind one corner in the upper and lower levels of the away end, the worst possible angle but the view wasn't that bad. The rest of the away end including all sections behind the goal - the away end normally takes 5,000 or so - was shut for the day. All the stands, all different heights and structures, were joined so it was enclosed.
The three different colours of blue seats around the ground - as broken ones had been replaced - were more testimony to a club that had seen better days that, joyously for us, all seemed to go wrong the moment they lost to us in a FA Cup game whilst leading the Premier League, even Director and ex-legend Peter Lorrimer says that. Shame eh?
Entertainment finally arrived as Tony Warner, Neil Alexander and George Wood all came out for a warm up, each getting a chant from the large City support already in their seats (or standing in front of them!), each waving and ayatollahing back. Shortly afterwards, out came Kav and the boys for an impressive warm up routine.
Gone were the leg stretches plus forwards and backward runs across the pitch as City sides have done for years it seems. We now look like the Army Motorcycle Display Team at a Tattoo. You must go early sometime and see it for yourself. The players ran in two figure eight style patterns, players criss-crossing each other as they did. They didn't try the pyramid where they stand on each others legs, maybe they will before the season is out.
Next came the mat routine, each player doing the 'dying fly' by lying on their backs and kicking the legs in bicycle fashion. Then a Harlem Globetrotters routine as they passed balls through their legs whilst doing the dying fly. All very impressive, artistic and visual but they ruined it all by finishing off with quick passing, they didn't look as good when it came to kicking the ball!!
The p.a. was impressive, good music - Killers, Embrace, Kings Of Leon - and then the Hard Rock Cafe dancing girls with some cheerleading routine that only seem to interest a few.
The ground was now filling up so it was time for ritual and mutual taunting. City fans were giving it everything. Plenty in homage to the team, plenty to mock Leeds whose latest take-over has failed with talk of the club hitting imminent administration with those pop classics, "Going bust, going bust, going bust" and the rocking "10 points, you're going to lose 10 points". We were already in good voice, Leeds response was throwing an inflatable sheep and blow up doll about.
Out came the teams with every single Cardiff fan with their arms in the air, fingers tingling and the "woooooah" shout that goes out as we summons up an ayatollah. It sounded and looked brilliant. Leeds response this time was singing the biggest pile of dirge ever. Aided by the tannoy, out came their 1970's cl(ass)ic Leeds, Leeds, Leeds. On and on and on and on it went, it seemed to last longer than the match itself (and this report!) with the cheesiest tune imaginable building up to a chorus of Leeds, Leeds, Leeds where the ground shouted the name and pumped their arms in unison. They obviously don't get out much up there.
It felt white hot because it was white hot, make no mistake Leeds wanted to beat us, Leeds wanted revenge but they found the visiting fans and team who were in no mood to surrender and, without doubt, we came out best on the day. Lovely.
As for the teams, City had one change but it was welcome as Peter Thorne returned after one match precautionary rest for his ongoing neck problem for Alan Lee. More good news came with confirmation that Andy Campbell wasn't on the bench. A fit again Joe Ledley sent him back where he currently belongs, outside of the 16.
Leeds are no longer a team of household names, some of their names aren't even known in their own house but, for all their woes, they still have a decent squad of individual talents allied to promising local youth whose results and league placing would suggest haven't really hit it off.
They played a 4-3-3 system with Neil Sullivan (Scottish international) in goals - a defence of stalwart Gary Kelly-Paul Butler (back from suspension)-Kilgallon-Richardson, a midfield with Walton-Jermaine Wright-David Pugh- and a three pronged attack of Julian Joachim, David Healy and Aaron Lennon.
The bench included talented teenage goalie Scott Carson predicted to leave for Liverpool or Chelsea during the transfer window, Clark Carlisle and Michael Ricketts. The infamous Sean Gregan went down with flu pre-game. Others currently injured, suspended or not selected included Lucas Radebe, Glyfi Einarrson (who, like Gregan, signed for Leeds when we showed interest this season), Erik Bakke, Seth Johnson, Micaehl Duberry and, as mentioned, Blakey.
Just before the game started, City went into a mass huddle. They look like cheap gestures but it seems to be working for the players and it certainly annoyed the Leeds fans whilst galvanising City's so it's fine by me.
The first half was torrid for City and excellent for Leeds who, let's be fair, pulverised us. They started in top gear, their pace, passing, movement and football overwhelming a ponderous City who seemed shocked by how Leeds went at them from first whistle but should have known what was coming.
Tony Warner had to make three excellent saves in the first five minutes. First, David Healy hit a rising early snapshot from 25 yards that was straight at Warner so he parried away. Not long afterwards, Healy had an even better effort that produced even better saves as Warner flew across goal to push out Healy's low angled drive and then get up to smother the onrushing Joachim trying to convert the rebound.
Leeds were also using the flanks well and City barely got out of their half but suddenly woke when Jobi McAnuff went on a sizzling 60 yard burst beating two including Gary Kelly and, as he entered the box, Kelly seemed to nudge him and over McAnuff went appealing for a penalty. Some would give it, some wouldn't, it was dubious but Premiership ref Neale Barry let that one go. A good excuse for some City fans to start chanting, "cheat, cheat, cheat" after Barry made the news this week when Chelsea's Jose Mourinho suggested he was swayed by a half-time tunnel chat with Sir Alex Red Nose Ferguson.
On 10 minutes, another escape as Gary Kelly started and finished a move at pace from the back, a pass put him clear on the edge of City's area but he thankfully screwed wide, a defender's piece of finishing.
On 14 minutes, City were behind and it was no surprise. The goal conceded - the first for 4 league games and 5 hours of football - was a bit special too. Promising teenage prospect Simon Walton showed some midfield class as he was involved in three one-two movements that cut City apart. The third set of quick passes got WALTON behind Barker and Kavanagh and he fired low past Tony Warner from close range. A superb goal but it hurt and, boy, was it ominous at this stage. I bet I wasn't the only one wondering how many we would lose by.
Leeds seemed well up for it, we weren't but, as some later remarked, perhaps they used up too much energy too early on in their blistering start. City were struggling badly but, most times, only had themselves to blame for that. They worked hard to get the ball but once they had it, there was no great movement and nobody making runs. In one passage of play, I saw City win the ball wonderfully with 5 big challenges in tackles from Weston, Inamoto, Collins, Kav and Inamoto again only for the be unbelievably be given away immediately. It was frustrating.
Chances came though. The first when Thorne and Jerome linked and through headers touches and lucky bounces somehow moved the ball into Leeds area where Jerome was denied by Sullivan making a one handed save and turning the ball around the post. It was Jerome's last significant action, he pulled up in the next move and seemed to signal a muscle pull. Off he went, replaced by Alan Lee.
Although Leeds remained on top, City were becoming more prominent in midfield but carried on spoiling things through inferior passing and movement. They gave the ball away too often and too easily, half the time because the player with the ball had to stop and look for support or options. Kav and Healy tested Sullivan and Warner with long range drives, Healy had a long range free kick blocked.
Neil Sullivan annoyed City with an extraordinary display of time wasting and pettiness. As soon as Leeds went one ahead, Sullivan tried every trick in the book. Letting balls tapped to him after stoppages go past him, goal kicks from opposite sides, stopping play for pretend injuries and even berating a ball boy for giving him the ball immediately instead of holding onto it. There was some satisfaction that City had revenge over him for his antics.
City needed half-time to sort themselves out but just before it, came agony but hope. Out of nothing, City got forward, Inamoto hit a drive that left Sullivan helpless only to see the ball smack off the bart and straight to a defender to clear ahead of Thorne. It brought back memories of the earlier Cardiff league game where the woodwork was hit three times, we wondered if fate wasn't with us again.
Half-time: Leeds 1 City 0 and back to the balti pies ... for some
For the last few games, the opposing side seem to be on the pitch waiting for City and it happened again. I don't know if they go out early or we keep them waiting but Leeds were back a good couple of minutes before Cardiff.
The game was nearly over as soon as the half started as another quick Leeds move saw Walton shoot on the turn, his effort flew a couple of feet wide with Warner motionless watching it fly by. It wouldn't have looked good on him had it gone in but the big man did very well again, taking a number of dangerous balls or getting important touches when it mattered. His kicking has improved in the last couple of weeks, his improvement seeming to be a feature in most of the side.
On 48 minutes, City tested Sullivan as McAnuff broke, the ball ran to Thorney whose rising shot was well taken by the flying Leeds keeper. City, however, were starting to turn it on and get positive. Richard Langley burst through midfield, played a one-two with McAnuff and got behind Leeds defence with Sullivan charging out to close him down. It was at the opposite end of the ground to us so we didn't have the best view but there was a collision and Langley went down, ref Barry seemed to pause but then awarded a penalty.
The keeper wasn't booked but nor was any player as Barry tried to let the game flow but, at times, it didn't seem right. In one flashpoint, the impressive McAnuff was taken out in full flow by the most blatant of body checks. Such an obvious yellow card, the offender wasn't even spoken to.
Back to the penalty, it was as tense as hell but PETER THORNE is the coolest man possible in these sort of situations. Sullivan went one way, Thorney seemed to trick him and rolled the ball in the opposite direction. 1-1 and better than sex ecstasy in the City end, did we go mental. We could now large it over Leeds and large it we did.
The second half was a cauldron of noise from the City end, all backing the team. Men of Harlech rang out, so did I'll Be There and many more as the game swung decisively to Cardiff. We were now in full control and rampant, Leeds were gone and had no answers.
How we never beat them, I still don't know. We certainly had the chances but we didn't take them. Inamoto forced Sullivan to save with a quick return shot from a poor kick-out, McAnuff put wide when through, Alan Lee went on a brilliant 50 yard run holding off tow defenders before placing a low shot across Sullivan but unfortunately his far post too. Collins put tow headers wide from free kicks and corners, one of them by a fraction with Sullivan stranded but he maybe should have hit the target. McAnuff was quite finding the end product to his brilliant work, even Rhys Weston took on and beat the Leeds defence but saw his cross cut out.
In the final 10 minutes, the game swung end to end but the only real danger came from City. Leeds moves were snuffed out, corners were always won, City's created danger and problems but we couldn't finish. There were late corners with the City fans chanting "there's only one Scott Young" with memories of how we beat them before at a similar stage of the game in similar circumstances but, today, Leo Fortune-West wasn't around to tee them up.
However in the last minute Peter Thorne won a header from a corner which looked in all the way from our end but it flew straight at Sullivan, if only if had gone either side of him. And the, in added time, Thorne played a clever header into space for Riuchard Langley on the edge of the area but with a defender closing in, Langley lost his balance and fell over when he looked set to score. He held his leg suggesting he had cramp as he was about to take his chance.
It was a magnificent effort, we were so clearly the better side, only the most bigoted Leeds fan could argue different to that. They wanted revenge, they never had it, it felt great. They also have to accept they were outplayed by us in both clashes this season, somehow however they escaped with a draw each time. Maybe that says something about us, the current run is similar to the last good run we had with Gary O'Neill. The team were playing wonderfully well and entertaining and going unbeaten but drawn too often instead of winning.
However this was a day and result to savour and we did that. Leeds fans were waved cheerio, reminded they were not famous anymore and going bust and left with our parting shot of "we're the ones who f**ked you up" ringing in their ears. A few Leeds stragglers got some attention and applauded and laughed at as they abused us. One fell over. The best was a young Leeds kid who clapped us back as he walked out and then started flicking 'v' signs.
Overall, we were held back for 45 minutes because it was Leeds turn to be naughty and they can blame nobody but themselves this time. With City locked inside the ground, Leeds fought with police outside. Ten arrested with reports it will increase once CCTV is studied and two police in hospital, they showed their true colours. And credit to City fans, we were superb, plenty of banter with the police and stewards - best one was the copper trying to address us with a toy megaphone that I doubt could be heard by his colleagues standing next to him.
Once outside, it was another 45 minutes before we left with police escorting us out of town and then for some distance down the M1, basically until we were out of Yorkshire. They did a good job and deserve some credit too and they engaged in banter and, on the whole, treated us with respect and like adults.
By the time we got back to Cardiff, it was 11pm and we were knackered. It's not an experience I really want to repeat too often but with the result and performance we saw, I doubt there is anyone who went who will regret it.
Report from FootyMad
Leeds midfielder Simon Walton enhanced his reputation as one of the country's most promising youngsters with a tenacious performance, capped by his third goal of the season.
But Cardiff took a hard-earned point after equalising with a dubiously awarded 51st minute penalty by Peter Thorne.
After Walton had fired Leeds into a 14th minute lead, Thorne slid home his point-saver in the second half to leave Leeds without a clean sheet in 19 matches.
Goalkeeper Neil Sullivan raced off his line to smother the ball but was adjudged to have brought down Richard Langley, and Thorne calmly sent Sullivan the wrong way from the spot.
Cardiff had a glorious chance to take all three points but defender James Collins headed fractionally off target.
David Healy relished playing in his favourite position in the Leeds attack, twice testing Cardiff keeper Tony Warner in the opening minutes.
Cardiff claimed they should have had a penalty when Jobi McAnuff sprinted past Gary Kelly who recovered to challenge him and the winger lost his balance, but referee Neale Barry was unimpressed.
Leeds took the lead when Walton made a superb run into the goalmouth where he received Healy's return pass and expertly tucked the ball past Warner from six yards.
Cardiff lost striker Cameron Jerome who limped off in the 30th minute and was replaced by Alan Lee.
And the Welshmen's luck was out again on the stroke of half-time when Japanese midfielder Junichi Inamoto, on loan from Fulham, saw his speculative shot strike the underside of the bar and bounce out.
Both sides deserved credit for attempting to play attractive football on a heavy Elland Road pitch.
Throughout the match Cardiff fans were well segregated after trouble between the rival supporters in the past.
To Elland Back
South Wales Echo