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Stockport County 1 Leeds United 3: Delph underlines his value to Leeds with sublime skill

SIMON GRAYSON insists highly-rated Fabian Delph will not be leaving Leeds United during the transfer window after a typically sublime piece of skill from the gifted teenager settled an enthralling game.

The Bradford-born midfielder pounced on a second-half mistake by Stockport goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams when the scores were level at 1-1 to net with a stunning 40-yard shot from wide on the left flank.

It underlined why a host of Premier League scouts have been regulars at United games this season with speculation growing that Arsenal, Newcastle United, Manchester United and Liverpool are all ready to make a move once the transfer market opens for business on Thursday.

New Leeds manager Grayson said: "Fabian has a big reputation and he has worked ever so hard for me in the last two games. He showed his sheer quality with the goal.

"I have been assured he will not be sold, and that is where we are at. We do not need to sell him, we do not need to sell any of our players."

Asked if his gut feeling was that Delph would still be at Elland Road come the end of next month's transfer window, Grayson replied emphatically: "Yes."

The win at Edgeley Park brought to an end an alarming dip in form that had seen Leeds slide from second to ninth in League One and suffer the humiliation of being knocked out of the FA Cup by Histon.

It came courtesy of a display that, tellingly, married the passing style favoured by Gary McAllister with a more robust approach that all sides have to revert to at times in the third tier.

This is particularly the case in games played at Edgeley Park this winter where the pitch visibly shows the wear and tear that comes with hosting both League One football and Premiership rugby union.

Add to that the deep overnight frost that hit Stockport ahead of United's visit and it was no wonder that the visiting players looked unsure of their footing in the early stages.

This certainly seemed a factor in the ease with which Carl Baker skipped through the Leeds defence in the second minute before the ball found Johnny Mullins who smashed a shot past Casper Ankergren.

United responded in impression fashion with Jermaine Beckford being unfortunate to see his acrobatic overhead kick bounce to safety off the crossbar.

Lucciano Becchio had played a major role in the move by flicking Frazer Richardson's corner towards his strike partner and it was the Argentinian who brought the visitors level on 19 minutes by stabbing the ball into the net from close range after County had failed to cut out a Robert Snodgrass corner.

The rest of the first half was an incredibly open affair with Becchio bringing a stunning save from Williams, the County goalkeeper then leaping smartly to his feet to block Beckford's follow-up.

At the other end, Ankergren was also busy with the Dane saving superbly from both Mullins and Anthony Pilkington.

The pace eased slightly after the break but Snodgrass still came within a whisker of putting United ahead with a curling free-kick that Williams was mightily relieved to fly just wide.

It proved, however, to be only a temporary let-off with Williams slicing an attempted clearance on 73 minutes straight to Delph and he fired a first time shot back towards the unguarded net to prompt joyous scenes among the 3,468 travelling fans.

Malcolm Christie then rounded off an excellent afternoon for Leeds by adding a third goal four minutes from time with a drilled shot that flew in off the post.

It was the 29-year-old's first goal in almost two years after a horrendous run of luck with injuries and Grayson admitted that the former Middlesbrough striker could have a big role to play at Elland Road if he can prove his fitness.

He said: "I tried to sign Malcolm and spoke to his representatives before he came to Leeds.

"So, I am more than aware of his ability and if he can keep scoring goals then a contract will be round the corner."

Stockport County: Williams; Mullins, McNulty, Tunnicliffe, Rose (McSweeney 25); Pilkington, Gleeson, Baker (Turnbull 78), Blizzard Rowe; Davies (Thompson 78). Unused substitutes: Thompson, Dicker, Turnbull,Taylor.

Leeds United: Ankergren; Richardson, Michalik, Rui Marques, Sheehan; Hughes, (Prutton 89), Douglas, Delph, Snodgrass (Howson 65); Beckford (Christie 65), Becchio. Unused substitutes: Prutton, Robinson, Lucas.

Referee: R Beeby (Northamptonshire).

 
 
 

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