NEIL WARNOCK’S spirits are unlikely to have been lifted by the news that Leeds United and Birmingham City face a replay after 90 entertaining minutes could not separate the two Championship clubs.
With the United manager absent through illness, Birmingham went ahead through Wade Elliott in the first half but were then pegged back by Luciano Becchio on the hour.
Both teams then had chances to win it but with no further goals scored, Leeds must travel to St Andrews for a replay on Tuesday, January 15.
Neither Warnock nor Lee Clark are likely to be too pleased with an extra game being squeezed into an already packed schedule.
But on the balance of play and chances created, a draw was a fair result.
Trailing to Elliott’s stunning first half strike, Leeds drew level on the hour when Becchio finished with aplomb following good work on the edge of the penalty area by David Norris.
Considering the Argentinian had missed what seemed a simpler chance just after half-time when through one-on-one with Blues goalkeeper Colin Doyle, the Argentinian’s tally were understandably tempered with a sense of relief.
The equaliser left Birmingham to rue a couple of missed opportunities to double their advantage with Chris Burke curling a cross just wide of the post with Jamie Ashdown stranded and Nathan Redmond firing straight at the Leeds goalkeeper when through on goal.
Redmond also shot inches wide with 20 minutes remaining after the United defence had helpfully opened up in front of him, while Burke squandered the final chance of the afternoon in front of a 11,447 crowd when dragging a shot wide.
Leeds assistant coach Mick Jones said: “Neil was in constant touch with us during the game. He made the decision to change the team at half-time and it worked.
“We hadn’t created anything from wide positions. Becchio and Ross McCormack needed the ball in the box and they got it in the second half.
“Luciano missed a good chance before he scored but he doesn’t freeze and went on to take his next chance so well.”