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Luke Murphy shines in Leeds United's 3-3 draw with Watford
BIG money signing Luke Murphy looks as though he’s getting to grips with life in the helter-skelter Championship.
Leeds United’s £1 million acquisition from Crewe has hardly set Elland Road alight since his summer move but the midfielder was a key element as the Whites drew 3-3 in a pulsating game at Elland Road.
In the corresponding fixture 13 months ago the Hornets used their blistering speed on the counter-attack to win 6-1 and Leeds fans feared another hiding on Saturday as Gianfranco Zola’s side led 2-0 at the break thanks to goals from Troy Deeney and Christian Battocchio.
With Leeds needing to force the pace, it seemed Watford had the perfect game-plan to add more goals. But it was different this time round. Leeds had played well enough in the first period but squandered several opportunities and found their cutting edge in the second half as Murphy took a grip of the game.
Danny Pugh forced his way down the left to finish smartly to give Leeds momentum and on 56 minutes Matt Smith headed in strike partner Ross McCormack’s pinpoint cross.
United pounded the visitors’ goal in a match played at breakneck speed with several pockets of play by both sides that would not have looked out of place in the Premiership.
Murphy continued to spread the ball to keep Watford on the defensive, but the Hornets always carried a threat, particularly through Ikechi Anya.
It was rip-roaring stuff and with 12 minutes left, Leeds’ pressure told when Murphy’s inch-perfect looping pass behind the Watford defence was deftly converted by Championship player of the month McCormack for his 16th goal of the season.
It seemed the comeback was complete but, on 85 minutes, George Thorne’s shot from distance was pushed out by Paddy Kenny and Deeney knocked home the loose ball to level. Both sides had chances to win in the dying minutes but both managers were happy with a point from a thrilling encounter.
Leeds boss Brian McDermott said: “I have mixed emotions as it could have gone either way. It was such an open game and in a game like that, anything can happen.”
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