Promotion-chasing Leeds left the Walkers Stadium last night highly frustrated after failing to beat spirited Leicester, who were reduced to 10 men after only 10 minutes, in an absorbing and ferocious contest. Watched by their biggest attendance of the season, a raucous 25,497, relegation-fighting Leicester proved their character and extended an unbeaten run under the guidance of Rob Kelly to five League games, leaving Kevin Blackwell shaking his head in disbelief.
"We just looked brain dead today," said the Leeds' manager. "I am very disappointed. We were really not quite at it and there was something missing. I don't know why. It just didn't happen. I put four strikers up there at the end, but we had no creativity or initiative." The post-match statistics proved his point, revealing that in the second period they failed to land a single shot on target. There were only five in all.
Given the encouragement of recovering from an early deficit, when Iain Hume fired Leicester ahead after four minutes with a low, right-foot shot, Leeds should have dominated. The dismissal of the defender Paddy McCarthy, who was also sent off in the fixture at Elland Road, for pulling down Rob Hulse, not only gifted the visitors a penalty, but also numerical advantage.
Robbie Blake, with a cool low shot in Paul Henderson's bottom left corner, scored from the resultant spot-kick, but from then on Leeds offered almost nothing as an attacking threat and the game degenerated from a roller-coaster into a stalemate. Blackwell, who criticised the officials for "a very poor game" that produced four yellow cards and one red, admitted his team had only themselves to blame.
Kelly, who succeeded Craig Levein in the manager's role at Leicester last month, was satisfied with his team's heroics and admitted that he even began to think of stealing a victory against the odds. "Ridiculously, in the second half, I was thinking of making substitutions to win the game, not to save it," he said. But he added that he felt his side were "not yet out of the woods".
Asked about the penalty, and McCarthy's sending-off, Kelly said: "I thought it was a penalty immediately, but it was a very harsh decision to give him a red card. The first thing he did afterwards was to apologise to the rest of the team - that shows the spirit in the camp now."
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