A MIRCO ANTENUCCI double secured Leeds United just their second win in 12 matches - and provided a spot of respite for beleaguered head coach Steve Evans in the process - after a 2-0 victory over sorry Bolton Wanderers.
The Italian, restored to the starting line-up, netted a close-range opener six minutes before the break and sealed victory with a sweet curler in the 62nd minute to take his seasonal goals tally up to seven.
A well-taken strike from sub Kaiyne Woolery 16 minutes from the time reduced the arrears, but Leeds held out for their first win in six league matches, despite an anxious and nervy finale.
Despite at an times patchy performance, United found a way against visitors who have not won on the road in 11 months and are destined for League One football next term.
On an afternoon when scores of angry United fans staged a pre-match protest against owner Massimo Cellino, with a coffin carried by supporters and placed outside the East Stand, Evans’s side at least provided a welcome development on the pitch, even if the game was far from a classic.
Leeds conjured little in a forgettable opening half-hour, but they were afforded respite when Antenucci steered home his sixth goal of the campaign from close range on 39 minutes after Liam Cooper flicked on a corner from Muzzy Carayol - also restored to the starting XI.
The only major development of the first half was an unwelcome one with Lewie Coyle stretchered off to a serious looking leg injury on 23 minutes.
Bolton, without an away win in 11 months, had a couple of threatening moments and almost levelled just before the break when Cooper cleared off the line after Marco Silvestri flapped at a Liam Feeney cross, with Derik Osede’s connection careering towards goal.
Silvestri did rather better on 17 minutes, turning away Feeney’s angled shot after he was sent clear by Gary Madine, with Josh Vela wastefully firing the rebound wide.
United’s best moment aside from the goal came when Carayol’s scorching shot was turned away from Paul Rachubka, making his first return to LS11 since conceding five in United’s nightmare 5-0 loss to Blackpool in November 2011.
The second half proved a low quality affair with Osebe firing wide before Antenucci’s second of the game.
Carayol slipped in the striker and after his intended pass to Souleymane Doukara was blocked by Holding, he followed up to curl a sublime curler past Rachubka.
Bolton were afforded a lifeline with Woolery showed neat skills to fire past Silvestri and Giuseppe Bellusci had to be alert to block Osebe’s volley.
But Leeds held out. Just.
Leeds: Silvestri, Coyle (Berardi 22), Cooper (Bamba 45), Bellusci, Taylor, Diagouraga, Bridcutt, Cook, Carayol (Dallas 79), Antenucci, Doukara. Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Murphy, Adeyemi, Mowatt.
Bolton: Rachubka, Holding, Vela (Woolery 68), Derik, Moxey, Spearing, Feeney, Davies, Pratley (Trotter 68), Clough (Dobbie 84), Madine. Substitutes: Campbell, Finney, Danns, Wellington.
For all the latest from today’s game, check out The Yorkshire Post’s live feed by clicking the link below....