Leeds United 3 Portsmouth 3: Leeds's largesse leads to further points loss

LEEDS UNITED proved that Christmas really is the season of goodwill to all men and a time for giving by presenting the opposition with a point for the second time in three days.

Following on from the Boxing Day draw at Leicester City when Sven Goran Eriksson's side had been trailing 2-0 going into the final quarter, Leeds repeated the trick by allowing Portsmouth back into a game that should have been settled long before the end.

It may have taken an own goal by Andy O'Brien three minutes into stoppage time to rescue an unlikely draw for his former club.

But that should not be allowed to deflect from the fact that United were, once again, their own worst enemies.

Leading 3-1 just after the hour, Leeds should have had the know-how and experience to close out the game.

Instead, they committed footballing suicide with the nadir coming in stoppage time when substitute Nadir Ciftci was afforded the freedom of the left flank to race forward and drill a low cross into the six-yard box.

Even then, the ball should have been collected by Kasper Schmeichel but a lack of communication between the Danish goalkeeper and O'Brien led to the defender diverting the ball into the net.

United manager Simon Grayson was hugely disappointed by not only his side's late surrender of two points but also the performance of referee David Webb, who disallowed a 'goal' for an alleged foul by Ross McCormack during the second half and turned down a strong penalty appeal after the same player had been felled by Ibrahima Sonko.

He said: "It is frustrating because we could quite easily have had six points this Christmas. Individual errors cost us again, we switched off at 3-1 and then a lack of communication led to their equaliser.

"The decisions also didn't go for us. McCormack had a stonewall penalty appeal turned down, the linesman was only 15 yards away

"For the disallowed 'goal', the ball went in the box and the 6ft 4ins goalkeeper couldn't get to it. But a foul was given.

"Our fans are knowledgeable and would not give the referee the stick they did at the end for any old reason.

"I won't say any more. Apart from they were right."

Portsmouth's on-going financial problems meant manager Steve Cotterill was yesterday

unable to select Michael Brown due to a clause in his contract that stipulates one more appearance will trigger a new deal on Premier League wages.

Joint top-scorer Liam Lawrence was also missing due to his

93-day emergency loan deal having expired and the lack of two important players was apparent in the early stages as Leeds seized control.

Just seven minutes had elapsed when the home side went in front, a cross from Paul Connolly catching the visitors' defence out and Max Gradel converted at the far post.

United's dominance was such in those early stages that it took just three more minutes for the second goal to arrive courtesy of a move begun by McCormack with a sweeping crossfield ball to Jonny Howson.

Carl Dickinson, whose previous appearance in a Leeds shirt in February 2009 had ended with the on-loan full-back being berated by travelling fans after a defeat at Hereford United, then hesitated to allow the Leeds captain to race forward and nip past Aaron Mokoena before shooting into the corner of the net.

Trailing by two goals so early on, Portsmouth could have wilted but, instead, they responded with some neat attacking play of their own that brought reward on 33 minutes when David Nugent fired past Schmeichel.

If anything, the second half was even more breathless than the first as Leeds again seized the initiative before being pegged back at the finish.

Snodgrass was the main reason for United's early dominance after the break as his tormenting of the hapless Dickinson continued.

Only a smart save by Jamie Ashdown prevented the Scot adding to his Boxing Day strike at Leicester before more desperate defending kept out Gradel's shot after Dickinson had again been left embarrassed by his nemesis.

A third Leeds goal did arrive moments later courtesy of a fierce drive from Bradley Johnson and that really should have been enough to secure all three points for the Yorkshire club.

Instead, Pompey hit back within 60 seconds when the unfortunate O'Brien diverted Richard Hughes's shot past Schmeichel.

It set up a frantic final half-hour that climaxed with Portsmouth rescuing a point courtesy of O'Brien's second own goal of the afternoon deep into stoppage time.

Even then, there was still time for Neill Collins to take the season of goodwill message to even more ridiculous extremes with a backpass that trickled narrowly wide of the post with Schmeichel marooned 25 yards from goal.

Leeds United: Schmeichel; Connolly, O'Brien, Collins, McCartney; Howson, Johnson; Snodgrass, McCormack, Gradel (Sam 81); Paynter (Becchio 65). Unused substitutes: Bruce, Higgs, Kilkenny, Hughes, Somma.

Portsmouth: Ashdown; Ward (Kanu 59), Mokoena, Rocha (Sonko 60), Dickinson; Halford, Mullins, Hughes, Utaka (Ciftci 88); Kitson, Nugent. Unused substitutes: Flahavan, Hreidarsson.

Referee: D Webb (County Durham).