Red card and goal start no bar as Leeds go up

Leeds United 2 Bristol Rovers 1

The last time there was a hung parliament, one Elland Road veteran noted before the game, Leeds won the League championship. This time the prize was more modest – escape from the third tier via the second-past-the-post system – but it was celebrated as if a crack at the Champions' League awaited Simon Grayson's side next season, especially after they contrived to do it the hardest way possible.

On an afternoon that lurched between tension and tumult, Leeds played for two-thirds of the match with 10 men after their Ivorian attacker, Max Gradel, was sent off for violent conduct. Gradel had to be escorted from the pitch by security guards after Jermaine Beckford and Michael Doyle struggled to prevent him getting to referee Graham Salisbury.

Leeds then fell behind just after half-time to a goal created by the Rovers player the capacity crowd blamed for Gradel's dismissal, the defender Daniel Jones. And with results elsewhere going against them, they looked set for the purgatory of the play-offs.

Two goals in four minutes each side of the hour mark transformed the contest and pushed Leeds over the line. The equaliser came from a substitute, the locally born Jonathan Howson, and the winner, with a certain inevitability, wasfired in by Beckford, who was captain for the day on what was almost certainly his final appearance for the club.

Grayson, the boyhood Leeds supporter who took Blackpool up from League One in 2007, said: "There have been a few bottles of champagne consumed, and rightly so. We never do things easy at our football club, but we showed fantastic desire and determination."

The Leeds manager added that he was "disappointed" with Gradel's reaction but was "still uncertain" exactly why he had been ordered off. "We still had a genuine belief we could get back into it after they scored, and full credit to our fans for keeping us going."

Leeds knew victory would confirm promotion behind Norwich but made a jittery start. Gradel, ironically, appeared the most likely source of a breakthrough, only to rush his crosses. When a firm but fair challenge by Jones, a burly defender on loan from Wolves, left him writhing on the floor, Gradel went in search of retribution.

The pair squared up to one another, Gradel putting his head into Jones' face, upon which his opponent fell to the ground clutching it. When Salisbury produced the red card, the Leeds player reacted furiously and had to be forcibly restrained from confronting the referee. Eventually Gradel was marched away, but Jones' every touch was booed – with Grayson and his coach Ian Miller also making their feelings plain to him as he came off at half-time.

"This game's too big for you," sang the Leeds Kop to the referee with every decision that went against them, though the criticism appeared more suited to their own players. The situation went from bad to worse on 48 minutes when Jones crossed from the right and Jo Kuffour cut the ball for Darryl Duffy to turn Leigh Bromby and score from six yards.

Briefly, the Leeds crowd were cast into silence and Rovers' anthem "Goodnight Irene" filled the void. Just when it seemed it might be Goodnight Leeds, however, Neil Kilkenny's cross was laid off by Luciano Becchio for Howson to curl a 20-yard shot past Mikkel Andersen.

If the Dane was blameless then, the same was not true of the deciding goal. His throw hit Beckford and fell to Bradley Johnson, who cut in from the left for a shot which Byron Anthony cleared only as far as Beckford. The striker, restored to the starting 11 after a four-game exile on the bench, crashed home his 31st goal of the season and Leeds, to the cacophonous relief of their fans, sweated out the final 27 minutes.

Travel
travel
News
Tim Vine has won the funniest joke award at the Edinburgh Festival 2014
peopleTim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
Sport
sportBesiktas 0 Arsenal 0: Champions League qualifying first-leg match ends in stalemate in Istanbul
News
Jamie and Emily Pharro discovering their friend's prank
video
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Manchester United are believed to have made a £15m bid for Marcos Rojo
sportWinger Nani returns to Lisbon for a season-long loan as part of deal
News
news
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
O'Toole as Cornelius Gallus in ‘Katherine of Alexandria’
filmSadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Life and Style
fashion
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve
Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition: It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans

Comic Sans for Cancer exhibition

It’s the font that’s openly ridiculed for its jaunty style, but figures of fun have their fans
Besiktas vs Arsenal: Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie

Besiktas vs Arsenal

Five things we learnt from the Champions League first-leg tie
Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

Rory McIlroy a smash hit on the US talk show circuit

As the Northern Irishman prepares for the Barclays, he finds time to appear on TV in the States, where he’s now such a global superstar that he needs no introduction
Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to Formula One

Boy racer Max Verstappen stays relaxed over step up to F1

The 16-year-old will become the sport’s youngest-ever driver when he makes his debut for Toro Rosso next season
Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

Fear brings the enemies of Isis together at last

But belated attempts to unite will be to no avail if the Sunni caliphate remains strong in Syria, says Patrick Cockburn
Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I would end up killing myself in jail'

Charlie Gilmour: 'I wondered if I'd end up killing myself in jail'

Following last week's report on prison suicides, the former inmate asks how much progress we have made in the 50 years since the abolition of capital punishment