Grayson faces day of destiny as Leeds falter

Charlton Athletic 1 Leeds United 0
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The Independent Football

Leeds United failed to clinch automatic promotion to the Championship after slumping to defeat at Charlton. The Yorkshire side needed victory over the Addicks and for Millwall to lose at Tranmere to earn a return to the second tier of English football for the first time in three years. But while news that Millwall were losing at Prenton Park spread around The Valley, Leeds were unable to make the necessary breakthrough against a resilient Charlton side.

The Addicks were undoubtedly the better side and got their reward for all their endeavour when the substitute Akpo Sodje headed towards goal in the 87th minute and, despite the Leeds defender Richard Naylor's best efforts to clear the ball, he deflected it into his own net.

It means Leeds need to win at home against Bristol Rovers next weekend to seal promotion and their manager, Simon Grayson, is staying optimistic. He said: "Our destiny is still in our own hands. I was disappointed with today and with results going our way at Tranmere, but we have a great chance next week. If anyone would have offered us the chance to win promotion on the last day of the season at home, we would have taken it.

"It will be some game next week. We will try to prepare and get as focused as possible because next weekend can change the club's destiny and future. I anticipated Millwall getting something but now it means we have one game to win. In effect, it is a one game season, but we have the determination to see it through."

Leeds could have walked their way to the title this season had it not been for their dip in form after their win against Manchester United in the FA Cup. They did manage to turn their season around and should have been in front at The Valley in the second minute when a mistake by former Leeds defender Sam Sodje let in Max Gradel. The striker raced through on goal but fired his effort straight at goalkeeper Darren Randolph.

Charlton's Nicky Forster had an effort deflected while Deon Burton tested Shane Higgs with an acrobatic attempt in the 30th minute. Burton then turned defender, hacking away Bradley Johnson's cross from Neill Collins who had a clear sight at goal.

The news that Millwall were losing to Tranmere should have been the incentive Leeds needed but it was the home side who created the better chances. Therry Racon, Sam Sodje and Lloyd Sam all went close before Akpo Sodje forced the late winner. The Charlton manager, Phil Parkinson, was delighted by his team's resilience and believes it puts them in good stead for the play-offs. He added: "We know what is at stake and Leeds are still in the box seat but we are mentally prepared for the play-offs. We have a lot of big players and I hope that proves vital if we get through to the play-offs and then at Wembley.

"Football is all about dealing with the pressure and we have to go up [to Oldham] and go into the play-offs in good spirits and mentally and physically we are ready for it."