STUART DALLAS hit back at suggestions that Leeds United were enduring a “dip in form” whilst readily admitting one point from their last two games required the team to quickly regroup and “go again”.
Second-placed United were seeking the perfect response to last weekend’s 3-3 draw at home to Cardiff City, who ended a Whites’ run of seven consecutive league wins by fighting back from 3-0 down to claim an unlikely looking point.
Leeds, though, endured a nightmare start in Saturday’s clash at Fulham with Spanish playmaker Pablo Hernandez coming off injured in just the third minute, four minutes before referee Tim Robinson awarded the Cottagers the softest of penalties.
Centre-back Ben White was penalised for a slight brush of Bobby Reid’s back with his hands and the Championship’s top goalscorer, Aleksandar Mitrovic, converted the spot kick.
Leeds hit back to level through Patrick Bamford in the 54th minute following up on a rebound from substitute Eddie Nketiah’s shot created by a brilliant Gjanni Alioski through ball.
But Marcelo Bielsa’s men ultimately fell to a first defeat in 12 games with Fulham’s Josh Onomah slamming home a piledriver of a shot in the 69th minute after United failed to clear a corner.
Leeds have gone from picking up 26 points from a possible 30 to taking just the one from the last two games with United’s advantage over the teams chasing them for an automatic promotion spot down to nine, with Fulham moving up to third as a result of their win.
Dallas, though, said it was not a case of a dip in form, admitting he was left bemused by Robinson’s penalty decision, while ruing another goal conceded from a corner.
“We have come off the back of seven straight wins so I wouldn’t look at it as a dip in form,” said Dallas.
“If people want to write those headlines they can but we are confident in ourselves.”
We have come off the back of seven straight wins so I wouldn’t look at it as a dip in form. If people want to write those headlines they can but we are confident in ourselves.
Leeds again created a host of chances and Mateusz Klich was unlucky to see his first-half effort hit the post. Bamford also fired a couple of opportunities off target, while Fulham survived an almighty scramble from an injury-time corner.
“It’s a feeling of disappointment I think,” said Dallas.
“We’ve come here to win the game, we have got off to a bad start with the injury to Pablo and we have had to adjust ourselves.
“And then I don’t know what the referee is seeing really.
“It’s easy to come out here and blame somebody else, that’s probably the easy thing to do so I’m not going to do it – but I don’t know what he’s seeing.
“He has a hard job, we all know that but I think he will be disappointed with the decision that he has made.”
“In the rest of the first half we have done well, we have come back into the game and we have had a few chances.
“Klichy has hit the post, I had one, Pat had a couple of chances and it was a pretty even first half.
“In the second half we have really went at them and we have got a goal and then I think it turned into a bit of a basketball game.
“It was very open and we have conceded from a set piece which is disappointing because we work really hard on that and at the end we just needed a bit of luck and it wasn’t to be.”
Leeds return to action on Boxing Day at home to fourth-placed Preston North end who like Fulham also sit nine points behind the Whites.
United will then visit Birmingham City on Sunday before the clash at leaders West Brom on New Year’s Day.
“The good thing about it is that we have got another game in three or four days’ time – a massive game at home to Preston,” said Dallas.
“They are obviously up there and we have a big couple of weeks coming up.
“There is no denying we are in a good position.
“But this was a chance for us to continue our good run and stretch away from the chasing pack and unfortunately we couldn’t do that but we will regroup and go again.”
Fulham: Rodak, Mawson, Ream, Christie, Bryan, Reed (Johansen 90) Onomah, Decordova-Reid (Sessegnon 90), Cairney, Cavaleiro (Knockaert 90), Mitrovic. Unused substitutes: Bettinelli, Kebano, O’Riley, Kamara.
Leeds United: Casilla, Ayling (Stevens 72), Cooper, White, Dallas, Phillips, Klich, Hernandez (Alioski 3), Costa (Nketiah 45), Harrison, Bamford. Unused substitutes: Meslier, Berardi, Gotts, Casey.
Referee: T Robinson.