No thrills as Leeds win

 

NO PENALTIES, no attitude problem, little point and not much fun. Its was a soulless spectacle of so called entertainment at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.

And another dose of punishment for the referee, Roger Dilkes, whose suspect powers of arbitration in the original tie a fortnight ago had incurred the wrath of both sets of players, fans and management alike.

In that match, having granted two Palace penalty appeals, dismissed others and booked either too few or too many, he was roundly abused.

How typical that this time Mr Dilkes should be so infuriatingly faultless. His one notable intervention was hardly that, waving a sensible advantage when Dean Gordon left Lee Bowyer crumpled in a heap.

Play fell to the wing back, Gary Kelly one nonchalant back heel, bone feint past Bowyer's ill fated aggressor and one stunning 20 yard, left foot shot later, and Rod Wallace was celebrating his sixth goal of the season - his first since October. Was there a hint of a smile on Mr Dilkes's face when he finally caught up with Gordon and produced a deserved yellow card?

Palace were a pale shadow of the team that had come within a kick of progressing to the next stage of the competition at Selhurst Park. They had missed their chance and they knew it.

"We didn't have the conviction," manager Dave Bassett admitted. "Once or twice we seemed to wonder what we were doing here." In that, they were not alone.

It will be left to Leeds to provide Arsenal with fourth round opposition, providing that eternal pragmatist, George Graham, with a prolonged bout of nostalgia.