Leeds United face huge battle to pick themselves up for play-off push

HEAD COACH Garry Monk bemoaned Leeds United's 'unfair' loss at Burton Albion that saw their Championship play-off hopes take a crushing blow.
Leeds head coach Garry Monk looks on as his side are defeated at Burton Albion (
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).Leeds head coach Garry Monk looks on as his side are defeated at Burton Albion (
Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).
Leeds head coach Garry Monk looks on as his side are defeated at Burton Albion ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe).

United’s downfall at the Pirelli Stadium came through conceding two goals in three second-half minutes to Marvin Sordell and Michael Kightly.

The visitors were for the most part frustrated by Burton’s solid defending, but created several second-half chances.

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Pontus Jansson and Pablo Hernandez headed chances wide, and Kemar Roofe had an effort cleared off the line.

“We feel that’s an unfair result, to be honest,” said Monk.

“In the second half, you could see the intention from the players and there was only one team pushing to win that game.

“They got that first goal through a mistake from ourselves. It was a shock that they scored and the second was a result of that.

“It was clear to everyone there that there was no way we deserved to lose that game.”

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The Whites, without captain Liam Bridcutt due to an Achilles injury, began in the ascendancy and Hernandez fired over the bar early on.

Monk’s side had the ball in the net on 10 minutes when Chris Wood nodded in at the back post, but he was offside.

The first half was a scrappy affair punctuated by poorly executed set-pieces and the closest either side would come before the break was through Luke Ayling’s header from six yards.

The introduction of Hadi Sacko on the hour mark, after the attritional pattern of the game had continued, yielded a spate of chances.

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Jansson headed powerfully just wide and Hernandez glanced Charlie Taylor’s inventive cross off target.

Burton punished Leeds in the most brutal fashion on 75 minutes.

Sordell turned outside the area and slotted past Rob Green into the bottom corner, before Kightly was played in seconds later and slid home to double the lead.

Three minutes later, an unlikely late run from Kyle Bartley saw the defender stab home at the far post from a yard out to give Leeds hope.

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The final 10 minutes were a scramble. Roofe was denied by a defender on the line and Burton were able to pose their own threat with former Leeds striker Luke Varney twice denied by Green in the closing moments.

Leeds can still make the play-offs, but even two wins from their remaining games may not be enough, with closest challengers Fulham and Sheffield Wednesday victorious on Saturday to push them three points adrift.

“It’s out of our hands, but we have that duty to push as hard as we can and see if we can go into the last game with a chance,” said Monk.

Burton Albion: Bywater, Brayford (McCrory 79), McFadzean, Turner, Flanagan, Akins, Christensen, Mousinho, Irvine, Dyer (Kightly 65), Sordell (Varney 85). Unused substitutes: O’Grady, Naylor, Palmer, Campbell.

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Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Phillips (Pedraza 66), Vieira, Roofe, Hernandez, Doukara (Sacko 61), Wood. Unused substitutes: Antonsson, O’Kane, Dallas, Berardi, Peacock-Farrell.

Referee: D Bond (Lancashire).