Posted: 1/4/2010


        There is a an electronic perimeter sign moving round the pitch at Old Trafford offering 'Manchester United Hopitality' packages.

        Well, on Sunday afternoon 9,000 traveling Leeds United fans plus their All Whites on the field took advantage of that generous offer to knock Sir Alex Ferguson's team out of the F.A.Cup for the first time against lower league opposition during his 21 year tenure.

       In the previous round, which lower tier clubs have to play in, Leeds were taken to a replay at Elland Road by the even lower non-league Poppies from Kettering Town, in order to get a crack at their historical rival from across the Pennines, an hour away. What a match it was, with the sensational result of the weekend in front of 75,000 at The Theatre of Dreams. A nightmare more like it, for the home fans. Jermaine Beckford, out of conract and the target of many managers, scored his 5th goal in 3 matches in 8 days after 19 minutes, from a sublimely weighted pass from local youngster Johnnie Howson.

    Beckford was playing part-time football 4 years ago and working as a breakdown mechanic on the nation's highways,for the RAC, but after 20 goals so far and his team run away leaders of Division One, his pace and opportunism came to be feared on a cold day in Manchester.  Manchester United are 11 times winners of the oldest cup competition in the world, and were well and truly beaten by Simon Grayson's men a year into his reign at the Yorkshire club.

     They came to win and win they did, with ball playing skills and tenacity all over the pitch. Casper Ankergren in goal has been criticised of late but was definitely on form and followed the Great Dane Schmeichel, a legend at this Old Trafford, with a world class performance.

      Beckford was not a loner up front. Luciano Becchio partnered him. Michael Doyle, Neil Kilkenny, and Bradley Johnson were more than a match for their illustrious opponents in mid field and the defenders never allowed Rooney and Berbatov,and later Owen to have time to think. Jason Crowe, Richard Naylor, the head bandaged Patrick Kisnorbo were other towers of strength in defence. Late in the match a nearly goal by Beckford in the 78th minute and two minutes later sub. Robert Snodgrass hit the post and almost made the result even more sensational.

      Next match it's back to the bread and butter of the First Division and a league match with the Chairboys of Wycombe Wanderers. For Fergie, who was shell shocked, he has to plan to defeat the blue half of Manchester when the revitalized Manchester City come calling on Wednesday in the semi-final of the Carling Cup.   Leeds travel to White Hart Lane and potentially another big name scalp, that of Tottenham Hotspur, in the 4th Round in three weeks time.