03/01/2010 12:21, Report by Ben Hibbs
United 0 Leeds 1
United can talk about two penalty shouts turned down, but the long and the short of this FA Cup tale is that the Reds just weren’t good enough in attack against a determined Leeds side who took their opportunity when it came.
The troublesome Jermaine Beckford scored after 19 minutes for the visitors, and although the Reds huffed and puffed, Sir Alex Ferguson's men couldn't blow the house down. Hardly the circumstances under which we’d like to have Leeds back at our place.
We’ve been denied this fixture for five years since Leeds' dramatic decline and disappearance from the Premier League in 2003/04, but with a bit of FA Cup magic sprinkled on top (and a bumper 9,000 away following) this was supposed to be an ideal resumption of rivalries with our old Yorkshire foes. ‘Welcome back’ read United Review’s front cover. ‘Welcome’ should have come with inverted commas.
Sir Alex went for his usual cup balance of youth and experience, notably with a brand new - and young-looking - midfield compared to the one that played against Wigan: Gabriel Obertan (20), Darron Gibson (22), Anderson (21) and Danny Welbeck (19).
Gary Neville, Jonny Evans and Fabio all returned in defence, while Wayne Rooney and Dimitar Berbatov remained in attack. That indicated a respect for this tie but the team selection overall alluded to one eye also being on Wednesday’s visit to Eastlands for the Carling Cup semi-final first leg tie with Manchester City. After a fairly tepid display though, it's just as well there are fresh legs to bolster the squad in midweek.
As entertaining as the early action on the pitch was, the banter between both sets of fans, deprived of cross-Pennine repartee for half a decade, was just as enthralling. Only Neville and Brown in red shirts have experienced this fixture before, the former predictably attracting boos from the