Leeds snare derby spoils
Bradley Johnson struck a late winner as Leeds beat Sheffield United for the first time in 17 years.
Last Updated: 25/09/10 8:16pm
Bradley Johnson struck a late winner as Leeds United beat Sheffield United for the first time in 17 years in a feisty affair at Elland Road.
In front of a bumper crowd - the biggest of the season in the Championship - Johnson turned home Robert Snodgrass' cross six minutes from time.
Substitute Snodgrass was then sent off for a second bookable offence a minute from the end before Johannes Ertl hit the bar for the Blades, who then had Jamie Ward dismissed.
Rival managers Simon Grayson and Gary Speed, who signed for Leeds as apprentices on the same day in 1984, have enjoyed similar results this season.
And there was little to separate their sides until a moment of inspiration from Snodgrass helped secure Leeds their first victory over the Blades since 1993.
George McCartney made his debut for Leeds at left-back and Lloyd Sam and Luciano Becchio both returned.
Nyron Nosworthy, in for injured Blades captain Chris Morgan, and Stephen Quinn were Sheffield United's two changes.
Ched Evans thundered an early free-kick into the Leeds wall on the edge of the penalty area in the third minute, but it was the home side who dominated the first 25 minutes without creating any clear-cut chances.
Then a sweeping Leeds move ended with Johnson hurling himself onto Max Gradel's cross and directing a superb header towards the top corner, only for Blades goalkeeper Steve Simonsen to push the ball away at full stretch.
McCartney was booked for an ill-judged challenge just before the break and then curled a right-footed shot over the crossbar after cutting inside, but neither goalkeeper was troubled again before the half-time whistle.
Former Leeds skipper Lucas Radebe received the biggest cheer thus far when introduced to the crowd during the interval, the South African relishing a return to the city to promote his book.
But the 'Chief's' presence hardly inspired Grayson's side, who were lucky to go unpunished when caught dithering at the back three minutes after the restart.
Passes from both sides went astray and play was too often disrupted by niggling fouls that referee Anthony Taylor was keen to penalise.
Blades manager Speed sent on Ward for Quinn in the 59th minute and Leeds favourite Snodgrass replaced Sam 60 seconds later.
But the pattern remained much the same and Grayson swapped Gradel for Neil Kilkenny in the 72nd minute and Davide Somma for Ross McCormack soon after in a bid to unlock a well-organised Blades defence.
Snodgrass eventually wriggled free inside the area and cut the ball back for Johnson to convert from close range with six minutes left.
Leeds looked to have snatched it, but after Snodgrass was dismissed for a second yellow card, Ertl's header hit the crossbar and Ward was shown a straight red card for a clumsy tackle on Kilkenny.