ask http://chopcult.com/insert/include/images/secure.php sans-serif; color: #333333; font-size: 14px; line-height: 18px; text-align: justify; background-repeat: no-repeat no-repeat;”>discount geneva;”>Leeds swiftly issued an apology and condemned the behaviour of the fan. The incident came moments after Michael Tonge’s fine second-half volley put United back on level terms in what had become an increasingly feisty Yorkshire derby. The supporter ran on to the pitch and assaulted Kirkland before running back into the seats behind the goal.
Kirkland collapsed and had to receive lengthy treatment before continuing. United supporters had also attempted to confront their Sheffield counterparts in an adjoining stand and with a number, almost unbelievably, having chanted in praise of Jimmy Savile, it left a thoroughly unpleasant taste in the mouth and the club will surely face a Football Association inquiry at the very least. South Yorkshire police were deployed in force and in the circumstances it was probably as well the match ended in a draw.
“I thought it had gone out of our game,” said Jones on Sky Sports. “The authorities have to look at it and sort it. I’m talking about an incident when we should be talking about the football. We’re talking about vile animals. That’s what they are. We talk about racism, but that, we need to sort that.”
Leeds said in their statement: “Leeds United Football Club would like to publicly apologise and condemn the action of the fan who came on the pitch and attacked Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Chris Kirkland. The club will fully co-operate with the police and the football authorities in identifying the individual concerned.
“After the week football has endured there is no place for this type of behaviour and the majority of Leeds supporters will be ashamed of his actions.”
It was indicative of the nature of Wednesday’s problems in recent games that the manager, Dave Jones, started with Chris O’Grady playing on his own up front and José Semedo shielding a defence that had yet to keep a clean sheet.
That the Leeds line-up featured Rodolph Austin, probably their player of the season to date, was something of a tribute to the Jamaican’s powers of recovery, given he had played for his country in a World Cup qualifier in Kingston on Tuesday evening. The more so if the rumour that he had to fly back in economy class after missing his scheduled flight was true. Austin was not the only Leeds player to look sluggish in the opening stages, and it was Wednesday who created the first chance when Chris O’Grady’s glancing header from a Michail Antonio cross was comfortably saved by Paddy Kenny.
Minutes later, the Leeds goalkeeper had to rely on an almost ridiculous piece of good fortune to avoid what would have been among the most embarrassing moments of his long career. Jay Bothroyd’s shot from at least 30 yards was straight at him and Kenny saw it all the way, only somehow to allow the ball to squirm through his hands before it bounced back off the underside of the crossbar.
Leeds had still not managed an attempt on goal, and nor had they when an unmarked Antonio met a Bothroyd free-kick no more than six yards from goal only to miscue his header over the bar. Tonge’s curling free-kick finally drew a good diving save from Kirkland after 20 minutes, but the momentum remained with the home team and they could and surely would have made that count if the referee, Eddie Ilderton, had not missed Luciano Becchio’s blatant diving handball to prevent Bothroyd’s cross being met by Anthony Gardner.
It would have been an injustice if Leeds had been level at the break, and Wednesday took the lead they deserved with a minute of the half remaining. Bothroyd’s header direct from Antonio’s long throw was well directed but the Leeds’ marking, particularly that of Jason Pearce, was suspect in the extreme.
The labouring Austin having unsurprisingly given way to David Norris at half-time, Leeds immediately began to look more competitive in midfield. Tonge flashed a free-kick over the bar, but in committing numbers forward in search of an equaliser they looked vulnerable to the counterattack.
Gardner was unlucky to see his shot deflected over, and Bothroyd also went close, but the attention was increasingly on the attempts of a section of the Leeds support to break past the barrier of stewards to confront the Wednesday supporters when Tonge’s volley sparked celebrations among the travelling fans – and prompted one idiot to bring shame to his club.