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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Big Match Preview

FA Cup
Kettering Town vs. Leeds United
Sunday November 29, 13:45, Rockingham Road

Runaway League One leaders Leeds make the trip to Conference club Kettering Town hoping to avoid an FA Cup exit to a Non League side for the second successive seasons.

It was back in last year's first round when defeat in Cambridgeshire to village side Histon helped to bring Gary McAllister's reign as United boss to an end.

His replacement, former Blackpool manager Simon Grayson, has overseen a remarkable run of results since returning to his native West Yorkshire though.

The Elland Road club are six points clear at the top of their division with a game in hand, having suffered just a single defeat in 17 league matches. Leeds will therefore be heading into Sunday's game at Rockingham Road with great confidence.

Preventing Leeds's top scorer Jermaine Beckford, with 13 goals to his name already, will be a difficult prospect for Kettering's defence.

However with the likes of Robert Snodgrass, Jonny Howson, and Bradley Johnson scoring goals from midfield too, the Whites are no one-man-team going forwards.

Grayson's men also have the best defence in League One, leaking just eight goals to date with keeper Shane Higgs in fine form since his summer move from Cheltenham.

Leeds striker Beckford knows where the back of the net is

It's a steep task facing the Kettles and their new boss Lee Harper therefore. Harper, a former QPR and Walsall keeper, stepped up to take over the hotseat after Mark Cooper's move to Peterborough.

And it's been a baptism of fire for the rookie with the Northamptonshire club suffering back-to-back home defeats to Hayes & Yeading and Kidderminster in their last two matches.

Town raised their game in the last round to dispose of Leeds's League One colleagues Hartlepool in a tight contest at Victoria Park though, and will be hoping for a repeat in front of the live ITV cameras.

Their cause hasn't been helped this week with the loss of imposing centre half Exodus Geohaghon who's linked up with his former boss Cooper at London Road.

The defender was a key part of the side who ran Premier League Fulham close in the fourth round of last season's competition.

However, at the other end the new boss will look to the promising strike partnership of Moses Ashikodi and former Leeds man Anthony Elding to pierce the visitors' backline.

It'll be a difficult test though. Leeds are full of confidence and looking ruthless at both ends of the pitch. Kettering will give it a go, but they won't have enough to upset their illustrious opponents.

Nobes' Prediction: Kettering Town 0 Leeds United 2

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