Comeback kids Leeds can make Premiership play-offs - Warnock

Leeds United's Adam Clayton celebrates after the final whistle of the npower Football League Championship match at Elland Road
Leeds United's Adam Clayton celebrates after the final whistle of the npower Football League Championship match at Elland Road
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NEW boss Neil Warnock believes Leeds should target the play-offs after watching their thrilling 3-2 comeback victory over Doncaster.

Warnock delivered pep talks to the players before the game and again at half-time, and saw them fight back from 2-0 behind early in the second half to pinch a last-gasp winner.

The former QPR boss watched the action from the stands after being unveiled as the new Leeds manager in the morning, as caretaker boss Neil Redfearn took charge of the team for the final time.

Redfearn looked to be guiding them to a third straight npower Championship defeat when a double from Mamadou Bagayoko either side of half-time put Rovers 2-0 up.

But the two-goal deficit lasted just a minute before Andros Townsend pulled one back, Adam Clayton levelled 10 minutes from the end and Luciano Becchio sealed the points in the ninth minute of stoppage time.

Warnock said: “I thought they did well. We changed formation at half-time, or just after, and I thought it worked well.

“All credit to them, a lot of teams might have given up, but at 2-0 down it got the atmosphere going.”

Leeds stand 10th in the table, three points behind sixth-placed Birmingham, who have played two fewer games than the Yorkshire side.

Warnock is aiming high, and when asked about aiming for the play-offs he told Sky Sports News: “I think anything can happen. I think we’re a long way from being a top side, if I’m honest, but the lads have got spirit and they showed that today to come back from 2-0 down.

“So (there are) 14 games (to play), everybody’s trying to help everybody else aren’t they, because no-one’s running away with it, so you never say never do you?”

The drama did not stop at the final whistle, as police and stewards had to intervene in an altercation in the tunnel.

Redfearn revealed Warnock, who has signed a contract to the end of next season, had been impressive in the dressing room.

Redfearn said: “Neil had a big impact. He came in at half-time and made a few points. It was sensible advice in the situation we were in.

“He said they should be a bit more positive, with more energy, and play higher up the pitch. There was no ranting and raving.

“Our second-half performance was more like it. We got about them and the crowd responded.”

Redfearn, who took over when Simon Grayson was sacked at the start of the month, will return to his role in the academy.

But he was full of praise for chairman Ken Bates’ choice.

“The appointment of Neil Warnock is fantastic for the club,” Redfearn said. “He has a track record of getting teams out of this division and these are exciting times.”

Doncaster took a 32nd-minute lead through the first of Bagayoko’s two goals. Andy Lonergan raced out to dive at the feet of the on-rushing James Hayter who was played through by El-Hadji Diouf.

The Leeds goalkeeper could only push the ball towards Bagayoko who stroked it into an unguarded net.

Bagayoko had replaced the injured Habib Bamogo whose earlier backheel came back off a post.

Watching on would have become more painful for Warnock who saw Hayter strike the Leeds bar after 49 minutes - and five minutes later Tommy Spurr’s cross was controlled by Diouf for Bagayoko to score from inside the six-yard box.

It needed a rapid response and Townsend provided it inside a minute with an unstoppable shot from the left, with Becchio the creator.

Becchio and Ross McCormack were denied by vital saves from Button and after American winger Robbie Rogers left the bench for his home debut, Leeds equalised with 10 minutes left.

Robert Snodgrass broke down the left and his low centre was swept past Button by Clayton from eight yards.

Rogers and Spurr were stretchered off just before the end after an accidental clash of heads, leading to more than 10 minutes of stoppage time, during which Becchio had the last say with a curling strike from 20 yards.

Doncaster boss Dean Saunders did not attend the post-match press conference.