LEEDS UNITED 0 SAINTS 0

CRUNCH TIME: Leeds United's Jody Morris tries to win the ball from Matt Oakley.

CRUNCH TIME: Leeds United's Jody Morris tries to win the ball from Matt Oakley.

First published in 03-04 Season Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Sports Writer

Football teams can't always play brilliantly but the sign of a good one is that when they don't, they're still hard to beat. That's why Saints are a good team.

You can read the statistics however you want. If you like, it's three games, no wins. Or you could see it as three games, no defeats.

Let's make no mistake - Saints have not played well for sustained periods of time in their games so far this season, but they haven't lost either.

You're going to have highs and lows during the season but only the top five sides can reasonably be disappointed to draw three games in a row - especially when two of them are away from home.

It might not look much better after Sunday - a home match against Manchester United is a daunting prospect - but there's no need for anybody to have a downer on Saints yet.

They are still waiting to discover their top form so to take points until that happens is positive - as long as they do find that form before too long.

The main problem, much like last season, has been finding the goals to win games.

At Leeds, like against Birmingham, the defence was solid but there were few chances for James Beattie and Kevin Phillips to profit from in their still new partnership.

Paul Jones had a few moments of concern in the first half but in the second Saints nailed down the supply routes on the wings and the danger dried up.

Being able to do that and create great chances proved too challenging, save one Brett Ormerod opening at the end, but at Elland Road this is a good point as it was at Leicester on the opening day.

Leeds had the ball in the net in the second minute when Lamine Sakho headed home Gary Kelly's free-kick but the assistant referee had his flag up for offside.

Not that much really happened in the next 27 minutes as both teams contested the game in the midfield area, Saints sadly missing Rory Delap who left the field after nine minutes with a knock to his ankle.

Matt Oakley and Paul Telfer battled Jody Morris and the impressive Seth Johnson with the result - a draw!

In the wide areas David Prutton was reduced to having to try and get to grips with Leeds' Jermaine Pennant - a good idea bearing in mind the on loan Arsenal star scored a hat-trick when he last played against Saints in May.

On the other side, Fabrice Fernandes was able to run with the ball and relieve pressure, while Sakho had pace but Jason Dodd did well against him to neutralise his threat for the most part.

Come 29 minutes, though, Jones had to save the day for Saints with four stops in the space of seven minutes.

After Graeme Le Saux had failed to cut out a left to right cross-field ball Pennant steamed in on goal and fired a low shot at Jones, but the Welshman did well to get down very low quickly and save.

Three minutes later Alan Smith's 20-yard shot needed Jones to get his body behind it as it skipped along the greasy surface.

Johnson unleashed a 40-yard piledriver on 35 minutes that Jones spectacularly saved before rounding off his set of four by tipping away Ian Harte's cross that swerved towards the top corner. Dodd tried not to be outdone and tested Paul Robinson for the first and only time of the first half with a long-range effort which the Leeds keeper tipped over.

The second half had less incident, brief spells of good football and several spells of scrappy football.

Oakley came close for Saints with a stunning half-volley from the edge of the area that curled back towards the goal, but still just wide of the post.

The Saints midfielder hit another shot on 73 minutes that was blocked but the ball fell to Pennant who charged up the right wing. His deep cross found Sakho who knocked it back to Smith, who missed a great opportunity when he spun and hit a shot from over the bar six yards.

The final and Saints' best opening of the game came in injury time. Subs Neil McCann and Brett Ormerod linked up to put the latter one-on-one with Robinson.

But rather than shifting it to his right foot and trying to go across Robinson, Ormerod took it quickly and tried to beat the Leeds keeper on his near post with his left foot and the effort was saved.

Another draw, but another decent result.

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