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Leeds into playoff final after testy second leg

8 May 2006 23:02

PRESTON, May 8 (SW) - Leeds United used two quick second-half goals to advance to the promotion playoff final in Cardiff, beating Preston North End 2-0 on the night and 3-1 on aggregate in a match that saw numerous tussles and near-brawls.

The Whites had eight players booked and received ten total yellow cards, resulting in two sendings off, but it didn't seem to matter as their goals held up to see them through to face either Watford or Crystal Palace.

Early on, Preston were dealt a setback as left side forward Brett Ormerod was forced off after a rash tackle by Jonathon Douglas, but the Leeds winger went unpunished. The Australian was replaced by Simon Whaley after just seven minutes on the pitch.

It was Leeds then that got the first chance on goal in the 23rd minute after a stop-and-go opening spell of the game as Frazer Richardson forced Carlo Nash into a great diving save from distance, but White's defender Matthew Kilgallon had to be alert to a dangerous Preston ball into the area by the substitute Whaley moments later.

Preston then nearly grabbed the lead five minutes before the break as a cross in by Tyrone Mears met a flying Danny Dichio, but the veteran striker's header went just wide for what should have been a 1-0 Preston lead.

The match had a rare 35-minute half-time period after a power outage caused the lights at Deepdale to go out, but once they came back it was a great ball in by Richardson that nearly caused trouble for the Preston defense as Rob Hulse almost got his head to it.

That would set up the go-ahead goal on 56 minutes for Leeds as a corner kick in from Gary Kelly met the head of Hulse, and the striker had enough power on it to put it beyond Nash, giving the visiting fans reason to erupt.

Five minutes later, Leeds gave themselves a further advantage as Richardson bundled the ball in over the line despite Nash being in a great position to make the save.

Preston were thrown a lifeline in the 68th minute as Leeds left-back Stephen Crainey was given his second booking of the match after he hauled down a charging Nugent, leaving the visitors with just 10 players for the remainder of the match.

It nearly paid off as Paul McKenna's fine free kick was well dealt with by Leeds goalkeeper Neil Sullivan, the Scotsman touched the ball over the crossbar. Later on, a Dichio header had to be dealt with in the same manner by Sullivan.

Preston thought they had gotten a goal back in the 82nd minute when a corner by skipper Graham Alexander was headed in by Dichio, but the referee's assistant put his flag up to indicate the ball had gone over the byline on its way toward goal. Once the referee recognized the flag, he disallowed the goal.

Substitute Richard Cresswell foolishly picked up his second yellow card since coming on late after kicking away the ball, meaning he, along with Crainey, will miss the final.

Despite a massive six minutes of added time, Preston could never take advantage of shorthanded Leeds and will miss out on promotion despite being in the playoffs for the second consecutive season.

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Championship table

# Team MP D P
1 4 +7 10
2 4 +5 9
3 4 +5 9
4 4 +2 9
5 4 +2 8
6 4 +2 8
7 4 +4 7
8 4 +2 7
9 4 +2 7
10 4 +0 7
11 4 +3 6
12 4 +1 6
13 4 +1 6
14 4 -1 6
15 4 +0 5
16 4 -1 5
17 4 -1 4
18 4 -1 4
19 4 -4 4
20 4 -5 4
21 4 -6 3
22 4 -5 1
23 4 -5 0
24 4 -7 0

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