Kevin Blackwell survived the ultimate double whammy for an under-pressure manager, a chairman's vote of confidence and a potential cup giant-killing, as he took his first tentative steps towards redemption last night.
Such has been the gallows humour fostered by Leeds supporters during the recent demise, many among another disappointing crowd of little more than 7000 departed Elland Road discussing the "upset" they had just witnessed.
Robbie Blake's early goal plus two from the substitute Ian Moore, the first a close-range finish as the League Two visitors failed to clear an Eddie Lewis corner on 55 minutes, the second a drive from the edge of the area with 16 minutes left, snapped a three-game losing streak and bought some breathing space for Blackwell.
In a typically forthright programme piece, the Leeds chairman, Ken Bates, broke what had appeared an ominous silence for Blackwell by insisting that parting company with the manager in the current predicament remains the easy option, and that the onus is very much on the players to arrest the slump. "When we have a temporary setback it's easy to say sack the manager," he said. "But when the players look in the mirror [they have to be] satisfied they're giving their all to the shirt, the club, and the fans."
Blackwell's calculated gamble of making five changes appeared in little danger of backfiring from the off as Blake broke the deadlock on seven minutes with a goal fashioned by Gary Kelly, the only survivor from the side to beat Champions' League rivals Milan here six years ago to the day.
The Irishman exploited the chasm left by Nicky Bailey's slip to put Blake through, and the forward opened his account for the campaign with a low shot past Ross Flitney.
"The pressure is on, but Kevin's had good support from everybody and he's got his staff right behind him," Blackwell's assistant, John Carver, said. "If we can pull this situation round what an achievement that'll be."
All Barnet had to show for their efforts was a 78th-minute consolation from Magno Vieira, who diverted in a Jason Puncheon corner, this after the Brazilian substitute recovered from an ugly studs-first challenge from Neil Sullivan, for which the Leeds keeper escaped without even a caution.
Paul Fairclough, the Barnet manager, said: "Hopefully, we can use this performance as a platform in the League."
Leeds United (4-4-2): Sullivan; Kelly, Kilgallon, Foxe, Crainey; Stone ( Howson, 76), Douglas, Nicholls (Derry, 65), Lewis; Blake, Horsfield (Moore, 44). Substitutes not used: Westlake, Carole.
Barnet (4-4-2) Flitney; Devera, Yakubu (Hessenthaler, 74), Warhurst, Nicolau; Sinclair, Bailey, Puncheon, Graham; Grazioli (Kandol, h-t), Hatch (Vieira, h-t). Substitutes not used: King, Harrison.
Referee: D Drysdale (Lincolnshire).Reuse content