Blues 3 Leeds United 0 .. Match Report

Last updated : 04 February 2005 By Richard Barker

Goals from Emile Heskey and a couple from Darren Carter were the difference between the sides. In truth, Blues never really looked to extend themselves too much, doing enough to take a comfortable lead, and then easing off.

Steve Bruce made two changes to the team that started and lost against Bolton Wanderers. Julian Gray came in for Olivier Tebily, meaning that Stan Lazaridis returned to left-back and Gray played left wing. Also Damien Johnson was presumably rested, and Carter returned to the middle of the park following illness, with Darren Anderton moving to the right flank.

As you'd expect Blues started the stronger and Neil Sullivan in the Leeds goal was tested early on by Gray. After just 11 minutes it was 1-0, courtesy of free-scoring Heskey. Anderton picked out Clinton Morrison with an excellent ball. Morrison cleverly flicked the ball into Heskey's path, and the man who is seemingly well on course for an England recall clipped the ball neatly over Sullivan and in off the far post.

Leeds were looking lively at times, but probably weren't helped by both Nathan Blake and Michael Duberry having to go off injued early on. Northern Ireland striker David Healy forced his compatriot Maik Taylor into a save from a free-kick, but after 22 minutes it was 2-0. Heskey found Morrison whose first time cross was dispatched into the back of the net by the onrushing Carter.

Leeds continued to show plenty of spirit, but not enough quality. In fairness, a few of their youngsters looked decent players. Both Frazer Richardson and Aaron Lennon, who both have fleeting Premiership experience, showed that they have decent futures.

Blues themselves were forced into change before the interval, with Lazaridis appearing to feel his hamstring. Thankfully it looked more precautionary than anything, and hopefully won't lead to another absence for the Australian. Jamie Clapham replaced him at left-back, what with actually being the club's only left-back and all! Even though he seems about fourth choice for the position...

Leeds were bright after the interval, with Richardson going on a mazy run and forcing Taylor into a save. Taylor also denied Julian Joachim from the rebound. Blues by now were looking comfortable though, and you sensed that they weren't really over-exerting themselves.

On 65 minutes it was 3-0, and it was the Morrison-Carter combination again that found the back of the net. Morrison broke away on the counter-attack down the right, whilst Carter made an awesome run through the middle, outpacing the entire Leeds defence. When Morrison centred the ball, Carter was able to sweep it home with his right foot.

It was fitting for both players to be involved again, as they were the two outstanding players on the pitch. Morrison's unselfish play in claiming all three assists showed what a valuable player he can be on his day. Meanwhile Carter continued to show just what a great box-to-box midfileder he is, and his energy was tremendous. Since returning from his loan at Sunderland, Blues have lost just twice. Once at Newcastle Carter wasn't fit and was substituted, and the second occasions Carter didn't play. It perhaps speaks volumes about his impact since his recall.

The three goal advantage meant that Bruce could give a debut to Robbie Blake, who replaced Heskey. Blake looked to be a forward who is going to like to drop deep a lot, and may even favour an 'in the hole' type role. Even so, he showed some good touches, and good awareness, and looks like he'll be a useful addition to the squad.

Leeds did keep going - as did their fans who were clearly determined to enjoy their big day out. The visitors had another couple of chances late on, with Taylor making saves again. No one really questions Taylor's shot stopping, but once again his kicking let him down, and I lost count of the amount of crosses that flew across his six yard box when you'd really, really want a 'keeper to be out there claiming the ball.

So, Blues move into the next round, and following last season's eventual route to the final that Blues missed out on, the team will be looking for another good draw to try and make up for the missed opportunity last season.