Cardiff City vs Leeds United

Cardiff City 2-1 Leeds United | 20 years on

History
Thursday, 6th January 2022 marks the twentieth anniversary of our famous FA Cup Third Round victory over Leeds United at Ninian Park.

A classic Cup contest in the Welsh capital saw the Bluebirds cause the upset of the Round, dispatching a United side who sat atop the Premier League table at the time.

A raucous atmosphere at Ninian Park, which was packed to the rafters with 22,009 supporters, greeted the two sides as they entered the pitch, led out by City, Leeds and Wales legend, John Charles.

United, UEFA Champions League Semi-Finalists the season prior, sat 53 league positions above the Second Division Bluebirds, and named a star-studded lineup containing the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Jonathan Woodgate and future City striker, Robbie Fowler. Stephen McPhail, who would himself join the club in 2006, was amongst the Leeds substitutes.

By contrast, City’s side contained just three players to have experience of top flight football at the time: Spencer Prior, Willie Boland and Graham Kavanagh – the latter would go on to have a huge say in the outcome of the tie.

Graham Kavanagh

The top flight side made a perfect start to the match, with Mark Viduka scoring after 12 minutes. The Australian striker was played through by skipper Gary Kelly, and fired past Neil Alexander with a powerful strike from outside the area.

However, City responded in style just nine minutes later, with Kavanagh scoring a superb free-kick. Andy Legg drew a foul inside the Leeds half, with the skipper stepping up to beautifully curl the ball around the wall and into the net.

Another key moment took place just before the half time whistle, with Alan Smith shown a red card. The midfielder tangled with Legg and struck the left-back with a stray elbow, dramatically changing the complexion of the game with plenty of time yet to play.

In the second period, Viduka came close to adding a second, having been sent through on goal by a lofted pass. However, Scott Young produced a superb sliding tackle to deny the Leeds man, making one of two crucial interventions in the match.

Leeds

With four minutes to go, the defender wrote himself into City folklore by stabbing home a late winner in front of the Grange End. A barrage of Bluebirds corners culminated with one final dangerous delivery from Kavanagh, which was met by Leo Fortune-West. His header was blocked by David Batty but fell kindly to Young, who launched himself at the ball to volley into the net.

The final whistle brought to a close one of the greatest giant-killings of the modern era, with the Bluebirds defying the odds to knock United out of the Cup. Despite their heroics, Alan Cork’s men would bow out of the competition at the Fourth Round stage, suffering a 3-1 defeat to Tranmere Rovers.

City went on to reach the Play-Off Semi Finals at the end of the campaign, whilst Leeds would finish the Premier League season in 5th position, and were relegated out of the top flight two years later.