On this day 20 years ago, Newcastle kept their title hopes alive with a vital win at Leeds, but it was Kevin Keegan’s rant after the match for which this game would be remembered.
Leeds United 0 Newcastle United 1
Newcastle United made the trip to West Yorkshire knowing that they needed a win to keep up their hopes of a title challenge against Manchester United.
The Magpies led by 12 points in January, but the Red Devils had creeped up and looked to be in pole position.
The game itself was far from a memorable one as Newcastle produced a sound defensive display to keep the Whites at bay.
The home side did start the game better however, with Lucas Radebe hitting the bar after Shaka Hislop had parried Brian Deane’s shot to him on the edge of the area.
Andy Gray then came close as his glancing header clipped the left post, leaving the visiting Toon Army feeling somewhat nervous behind the goal.
Those nerves were soon settled though as Newcastle struck the decisive blow just after the quarter hour mark.
A Peter Beardsley corner from the left side was met by the powerful head of Les Ferdinand who sent the ball the opposite way, before Keith Gillespie guided the ball into the top right corner with a precise header past Mark Beeney.
The away side would go on to see the job through in a thoroughly forgettable remaining 70 minutes, but the pressure appeared to have finally told on King Kev.
The Newcastle boss didn’t respond kindly when asked about his counterpart Sir Alex Ferguson and his recent comments.
“No, that’s… when you do that with footballers, like he said about Leeds, and when you do things like that about a man like Stuart Pearce, I’ve kept really quiet, but I’ll tell you something, he went down in my estimation when he said that. We have not resorted to that, but I’ll tell you, you can tell him now if you’re watching it, we’re still fighting for this title, and he’s got to go to Middlesbrough and get something, and… and… I’ll tell you, honestly, I will love it if we beat them. Love it.”
The Tynesiders needed to follow up the win at Elland Road with another at the City Ground against Nottingham Forest, but a second-half Ian Woan strike cancelled out Peter Beardsley’s opener as the sides drew 1-1.
That meant Manchester United needed to lose to Middlesbrough in order for Newcastle to capture their first title since 1927, and they themselves needed to beat Spurs.
Again they failed to deliver, drawing 1-1 at home with Tottenham as Jason Dozzell struck the decisive blow for the visitors. Meanwhile, Man United beat Middlesbrough 3-0, meaning they won the league by a four point margin.
Leeds United: Speed, Worthington, Beeney, Beesley, Ford, Deane, Kelly, Radebe, Wetherall, McAllister, Gray. Substitutes: Tinkler, Masinga, Wallace.
Newcastle United: Beardsley, Asprilla, Albert, Hislop, Watson, Peacock, Lee, Ferdinand, Elliott, Gillespie, Batty. Substitutes: Clark, Barton, Srnicek.
Goals: Gillespie 17
What they said
Keegan did analyse his team’s performance amidst all the chaos in front of the Sky cameras.
“I didn’t think we played very well at all, first 15 minutes. I was disappointed because looking at the lads I got the feeling they were really up for it, but we then started to… once we got the goal, we started to play a bit and then second half, I mean, we never really got passing it, we gave it away, players that normally don’t give it away were giving it at away, and at the end I said to Terry [McDermott], ‘1-0 will do it tonight'”.