Leeds United 1 – Oldham Athletic 1 – Strachan Spared Leeds’ Blushes to hand vital three points against Oldham
Old maestro Gordon Strachan conjured up the victory Leeds desperately needed to end a worrying run of three defeats. With deadlier finishing, Leeds would have overwhelmed an Oldham side which only sprang to life in the final quarter, when Darren Beckford had a goal disallowed for offside and Gunnar Halle, a close-range header saved by Mark Beeney.
Leeds had the decided edge in class and Beeney justified manager Howard Wilkinson’s decision to drop John Lukic and turn to the former Brighton goalkeeper who was signed last April for £350,000. Strachan’s sorcery should have prised open the floodgates, but Leeds’ old failing of being unable to translate overwhelming possession into goals haunted them once more, and they had to cling on to ensure their victory.
Rod Wallace, however, was only denied a second Leeds’ goal because Strachan had strayed into an offside position, although it was debatable whether he was interfering with play. United needed an early goal after recent disappointments, and Strachan provided it with some style.
Only 11 minutes had gone when Gary Speed released his 36-year-old colleague, and although Oldham keeper Paul Gerrard got a hand to the ball, Strachan’s 15-yard shot carried so much power that it stuck in the far top corner of the net. Strachan repeatedly tormented Oldham’s vulnerable defence, which was further weakened when Neil Poulton was helped off with a pulled hamstring just before the interval.