Grayson praises Leeds United’s battling show

Leeds United's Adam Clayton celebrates his late equaliser at West Ham.

Leeds United's Adam Clayton celebrates his late equaliser at West Ham.

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LEEDS United boss Simon Grayson was delighted with the way his side battled to the finish to earn a point at promotion favourites West Ham.

Although twice behind, they earned a 2-2 draw with goals from Ross McCormack and a last minute Adam Clayton equaliser. They could have brought all three points home, however, had Max Gradel not fired a 28th minute penalty wide.

Manager Grayson was happy enough with the performance.

He said: “Full credit to my players, we dug deep and a draw was the very least we deserved.

“It’s not easy being the favourites for the division, everybody wants to beat you, we had it in League One. You could sense that nervousness creeping in but you have to deal with it.”

Initially it looked like being a long afternoon for Leeds fans as they saw their team go a goal down in the sixth minute to a Carlton Cole volley from Matt Taylor’s corner.

But they gradually eased into the contest and gave as much as they received for the rest of the opening half. Gradel forced two saves from England goalkeeper Robert Green while Andy Keogh had a shot deflected just wide and Robert Snodgrass went even closer with a volley that smacked against the post.

Leeds were presented with a route back into the game in the 28th minute when Matt Taylor controlled the ball with his arm in the box and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. But Gradel, the subject of a failed bid from West Ham in the summer, put his penalty wide of Green’s right-hand post.

A superb start to the second half saw Keogh denied by Green and the rebound volleyed over by McCormack and another penalty should have been forthcoming when Scott Parker brought down Aidan White in the area.

Leeds piled on the pressure and were finally rewarded in the 59th minute when Keogh and Snodgrass combined well for the latter to cross low into the path of McCormack, who swept the ball past Green.

However, all their good work was undone just three minutes later when home substitute Julien Faubert crossed from the right and Kisnorbo, in attempting to clear the ball, succeeded only in smashing it past Andy Lonergan into his own net.

West Ham now upped their game and it needed a Lonergan save from point blank range to prevent a third goal to deny Winston Reid.

Scott Parker then shot against a post, but Leeds deservedly grabbed a point on the stroke of full-time when Jonny Howson’s fierce shot came back off the crossbar and midfield partner Clayton put away the rebound.

Match facts

West Ham United 2

(Cole 6, Kisnorbo og 62)

Leeds United 2

(McCormack 59, Clayton 90)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Npower Championship

Attendance: 28,252

West Ham: Green, O’Brien, Tomkins, Reid, Ilunga, Collison (Faubert 58), Parker, Noble (Piquionne 82), Nolan, Taylor, Cole (Carew 66).

Leeds: Lonergan, Lees, Kisnorbo, O’Dea, White, Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton, Gradel (Sam 88), McCormack (Nunez 77), Keogh.

Referee: Michael Oliver.