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Promotion will always be the highlight for Grayson

1 April 2020

Despite seeing off the champions of England that season in the FA Cup, former Leeds United boss Simon Grayson says the game that secured them promotion from League One will always be the most important.

Grayson’s side famously saw off Manchester United at Old Trafford back in 2010, but the work was not done there for the Whites. Promotion was still their main target and it was eventually secured on the final day of the league season, and the 50-year-old has recapped the lead-up to that game.

He said: “The highlight of that season has to be the Bristol Rovers game where we won promotion; I know a lot of people say that the Manchester United FA Cup game must be up there, and it is, but we had the one aim at the start of the season and that was to get promoted.

“There was a lot riding on that Bristol Rovers game, I remember the game before, we were down at Charlton Athletic and it was still in our hands and if we won the game we would have been promoted, but we were losing the game late on.

“As anyone connected with Leeds United know, things never get done the easy way, so we went into that game saying ‘let’s do everything we can to win’.”

After going behind to a Darryl Duffy strike, as well as going down to 10 men, Leeds certainly had it all to do in the second 45 minutes. A change in formation and personnel flipped the game on its head, and Grayson adds it was a huge relief come full-time.

He added: “There was a lot of pressure that day and that clearly got to Max [Gradel] that day; he makes an irrational decision by stamping on Daniel Jones and that takes us down to 10 men just before half-time.

“I knew it wasn’t going to be easy after that but I believed that we would go on and win the game that day. Jermaine [Beckford] was always a big-game player and that was one of the reasons why I made him captain that day, because he thrived from that sort of pressure.

“It was a weird game because everything that could happen, happened. Johnny Howson came off the bench and pretty much scored with his first touch, and it felt like we were playing with 15 players after that! The atmosphere was electric, and when that final whistle came it was a huge relief because we achieved what we set out to do at the start of the season.”

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