Lights expose Leeds' promotion gremlins
Leeds United 3 Barnsley 3
Wednesday 23 February 2011
Like the cute, furry little mogwai in the 1980s film Gremlins, Simon Grayson's Leeds United side seem to have an aversion to bright lights.
The club have not won outside a Saturday this season in the Championship – a sequence begun with a 5-2 defeat at Barnsley in September – and their struggles under the floodlights continued in a 3-3 home draw with their Yorkshire rivals last night.
Leeds looked in complete control at half-time after overturning Jason Shackell's early goal through Luciano Becchio and a Max Gradel (pictured) penalty. The complexion of the game changed in the seven minutes after the restart, though, with Matt Hill's equaliser and the dismissal of Bradley Johnson. Grayson was unhappy with the points dropped. "It is frustrating because that is a game where we thought we could get three points. We weren't professional enough to see things through."
His side made the worst possible start when they failed to deal with Trippier's free-kick into the box in the second minute, and Danny Haynes teed up Barnsley captain Shackell to score from close range. Yet Leeds responded impressively and, although Jason Steele touched a Gradel free-kick on to the crossbar, Becchio headed them level after Steele had missed the flight of Neil Kilkenny's cross.
Gradel made it two from the penalty spot after taking a tumble under pressure from Matt Hill. "Very dubious," was Barnsley manager Mark Robins' verdict on referee Mark Clattenburg's decision.
Hill equalised with an angled finish past Kasper Schmeichel – and Johnson collected a second booking for a foul on Jacob Mellis. "It was a soft sending-off for us," Grayson said. "Bradley's hardly touched him. Then we switched off. We've got to stop making mistakes."
The slick-footed Gradel restored Leeds' lead when he jinked past two defenders before curling a superb effort beyond Steele. But when Sanchez Watt tripped Mellis on the edge of the box, Trippier's free-kick went through a gap in the wall and past the static Schmeichel to leave the hosts deflated.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Lichaj, Bruce, O'Brien, McCartney; Kilkenny, Johnson; Snodgrass, Howson, Gradel; Becchio. Substitutes not used Higgs (gk), Paynter, Watt, Parker, Bromby, Somma, McCormack.
Barnsley (4-4-2): Steele; Hassell, McShane, Shackell, Hill; Trippier, Arismendi, Doyle, Mellis; O'Connor, Haynes. Substitutes not used Preece (gk), O'Brien, Lovre, Nouble, Butterfield, Gray, Bennett.
Referee M Clattenburg (Tyne and Wear).
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