THE pressure intensified on Leeds United manager Brian McDermott tonight as his team crashed to another home defeat, going down 4-2 to his former club Reading at Elland Road.
Towering substitute Matt Smith showed some overdue spark for Leeds but Reading inflicted another damaging defeat on McDermott’s under-achievers.
Leeds looked out for the count and in danger of a particularly heavy defeat, trailing 4-0 early in the second half after another abysmal performance, but Smith’s arrival sparked them into life as he and Rudi Austin struck to restore some pride.
Exactly a year after losing his job at Reading, Leeds manager McDermott responded to his side’s 5-1 thrashing against Bolton by making five changes and reverting to using wing-backs.
The kick-off was delayed by half an hour after players, match officials and spectators were delayed by traffic congestion on the M62 motorway.
The opening goal came from Garath McCleary in the 25th minute, before the visitors then scored three times in rapid succession after the break to kill off the game.
With 47 minutes gone, Royston Drenthe curled a free-kick into the top left corner from just outside the penalty box.
A minute later Danny Guthrie’s free-kick from the left was headed in from six yards by substitute Nick Blackman and in the 54th minute Hal Robson-Kanu’s angled shot sped past the bemused Butland.
Elsewhere, Billy Sharp fired home an injury-time winner as Doncaster Rovers gave their survival hopes another huge boost by seeing off 10-man Watford 2-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium.
After the early dismissal of Hornets striker Mathias Ranegie, Chris Brown headed Rovers in front after 24 minutes.
But Watford were left seething as Rovers goalkeeper Sam Johnstone failed to see red or concede a penalty despite hauling down Troy Deeney just before the break.
The visitors shrugged off that setback to equalise though Ikechi Anya, and just as it looked like they had done enough to earn a point, up popped Sharp to send the home fans home ecstatic.
Jamie Vardy grabbed a brace as Leicester stretched their lead at the top of the Championship table by claiming their third successive 3-0 win, while increasing the pressure on struggling hosts Barnsley at the other end of the table.
The Foxes have been nigh-on unstoppable since the turn of the year and are now eight points clear of Burnley and 15 clear of third-placed Derby, with Vardy’s double taking his record to five goals from his last four matches.
He opened the scoring midway through the first half and then sealed a comprehensive victory for the east midlands side shortly after Danny Drinkwater had doubled Leicester’s lead just before the hour mark.
There was little consolation for Danny Wilson’s team as they were thoroughly outclassed by their opponents, who claimed their first in at Oakwell since November 2010.
Bradford City bounced back from their weekend defeat at Brentford with a comfortable 2-0 win at Colchester United.
City broke the deadlock after 16 minutes when Matty Dolan’s right-wing corner was headed home at the far post by James Hanson.
City finally increased their lead after 56 minutes when Kyle Bennett cut in from the right and lashed the ball home.
Rotherham United pumped up their promotion push at the expense of struggling Oldham Athletic with a 2-0 win at Boundary Park.
Goals from Mark Bradley and Lee Frecklington sealed the Millers’ 11th league victory on the road this term and stretched their unbeaten run to 11 games.
In League Two, Ryan Bowman’s first-half penalty secured a third successive win for York City at Mansfield Town.