Leeds United 2 Colchester United 0: New boys lift Leeds as they set double-pronged targets

PREMIER League duo Gary McSheffrey and Shane Lowry are on a double mission at Elland Road but their priority is to ensure Leeds are promoted to the Championship.

Striker McSheffrey is determined not to become one of football's forgotten men, while young defender Lowry harbours outside hopes of booking his ticket to the World Cup.

Both were plunged straight into the side after signing on loan from Birmingham City and Aston Villa as manager Simon Grayson made five changes to the side defeated in midweek at Swindon.

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He was rewarded by a thoroughly professional display against a Colchester side who, once they realised Leeds would not be bullied into submission, had no Plan B.

Jermaine Beckford struck with his 23rd and 24th goals of the season to give Leeds their first League One win of the year and put a halt to the surge which has taken Colchester into the play-off places under former Leeds coach Aidy Boothroyd.

But it was McSheffrey, 27, who emerged with the sponsors' bottle of bubbly, even though he admitted to having endured something of a culture shock.

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"I was thinking for the first 20 minutes 'bloody hell, what have I done?' I didn't see the ball, it was up in the air for so long. It wasn't the prettiest of games but once it settled in the second half, we played some nice stuff and created some good chances and looked comfortable."

A 4m signing from Coventry, in 2006, McSheffrey has been left out in the cold at Birmingham – they have a two-year option on his contract – and he admits: "This season has been a nightmare and of the nine appearances I have made, four have been five-minute substitute appearances which ruins your goals to games record a bit."

Employed on the left by Grayson, McSheffrey went close to opening his account early in the second half but his goalbound volley struck Beckford and went dead.

"I caught it well and wanted to see the net ripple but I'm sure that first goal of the season will come and when it does it will be long overdue."

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Substituted late on, he added: "I haven't had a lot of football but I felt good. I think the manager was being cautious so 80 minutes is fine for your first game for a while.

"This is a huge move for me. I had tendonitis in my knee last season and had an operation to cure that in April and I was fine for pre-season and haven't missed a training session so it's just about getting games in now.

"Before you know it, you can be forgotten about so it was important for me to get out and this club has given me the opportunity and it is a great club to be at.

"I need to get myself back on the map and in the shop window because for a player that's as hungry and determined as I am, I have been far too quiet for the past 18 months so it is massive to just get back in the mix and make a name for myself.

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"I would love to have a good loan until the end of the season and score goals and help clinch promotion. Those are the short-term aims. If we secure promotion there will be no bigger club at Championship level.

"I left Birmingham on good terms and there are no hard feelings although the door is probably closed, to be honest.

"I'd rather to be here and be a big part of the plans and strive for promotion rather than be a part-time player at a big Premier League club. It was a gamble and a risk coming to League One but if most games turn out how today's turned out then it will be a risk worth taking."

McSheffrey, ineligible for Wednesday's FA Cup replay with Tottenham, added: "It will probably be a Birmingham v Leeds final this year and I'll be cup-tied which will be just my luck."

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One player certain to face Spurs will be Beckford, whose stoppage time penalty at White Hart Lane earned the replay. Beckford was spot on again, making it 1-0 in the 38th minute after fellow striker Luciano Becchio had been tripped from behind by former Leeds defender Matt Heath.

Beckford bundled in his 24th goal of the campaign 10 minutes after the interval after a shot on the turn from Jonny Howson had deflected against the far post and the Leeds striker was only denied a hat-trick by a linesman's flag.

Colchester had no answer against a staunch new-look Leeds defence which included Lowry, who has initially joined until March 13, at left-back for illness victim Andrew Hughes.

Lowry was also substituted in the second half but the 20-year-old said: "My last game was December 19 on loan at Plymouth so I had a little bit of a cramp but I'll be fine as you can't beat playing.

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"I was at Plymouth in the Championship for three months but as soon as soon as Leeds came in there was no other choice. You look around the place and it's a massive club with the fan, the facilities, everything is in place for them to be in the Premier League and I hope we get promoted this season.

"My deal at Villa is up at the end of the season so I have to sit down with them and talk about my contract but I want to do well here first, work hard and show I deserve to be here."

He also hopes to be boarding the plane for South Africa with new Leeds colleagues Patrick Kisnorbo and Neil Kilkenny, who were ruled out by injury on Saturday, explaining: "I was born in Perth, my mum and dad are Irish but they emigrated 25 years ago. I came over to England when I was 15 and I have been at Villa ever since I went over on trial and straight into the youth team.

"I played for Ireland up to under-21 level and then I switched to Australia, my country of birth, as I have always seen myself as an Australian. I have been in the last three senior squads but haven't been capped ... yet."

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Manager Grayson, expressing his delight at his two new signings, revealed there could be more transfer news ahead of tonight's 5pm deadline.

Leeds United: Ankergren, Bromby, Naylor, Michalik, Lowry (Johnson 71); Snodgrass, Doyle, Howson, McSheffrey (Gradel 82); Beckford, Becchio. Unused substitutes: D Martin, Crowe, Grella, Robinson, White.

Colchester United: Williams, Ifil (Odejayi 56), Heath, Okuonghae, Tierney, White, O'Toole, Wordsworth, Izzet, Platt (Gillespie 74), Lisbie (Elito 77). Unused substitutes: Cousins, Fox, Batth, Knudsen.

Referee: K Woolmer (Northants).


Hero: Lubor Michalik

Given his first start in the heart of the Leeds defence since mid-December, the 6ft 4in Slovakian snuffed out Colchester's muscular threat alongside captain Richard Naylor, back from hamstring trouble.

Villain: Matt Heath

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The former Leeds central defender will regret making a challenge from behind on Luciano Becchio, who went down in the area to earn a penalty, Heath taking both man and ball.

Key moment

55th minute: A stumbling Beckford forces the ball home to make it 2-0 after Jonny Howson's shot hits the post.

Ref watch

Andy Woolmer: Not the best of days for the Northamptonshire official nor his linesmen.


Leeds are back on track and have two useful new additions in Premier League loan signings Gary McSheffrrey and Shane Lowry.

Next game

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Leeds United v Tottenham, FA Cup 4th round replay, Wednesday, 7.45.

Quote of the day

I was thinking for the first 20 minutes 'bloody hell, what have I done?' I didn't see the ball, it was in the air for so long.

– Gary McSheffrey on his culture shock at dropping down two divisions.

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