FT: Leeds United 1-2 Cardiff City - Redfearn fuming
In the process, United suffered their third successive defeat with two poor lapses of concentration from corners proving costly as the Bluebirds enjoyed another rewarding afternoon at Elland Road - where they have not been beaten since September 1983.
The decisive moment arrived on 62 minutes when Aron Gunnarsson bundled home from close range after United failed to deal with a corner from Peter Whittingham.
Another flag-kick from Whittingham led to Cardiff’s close-ranger opener on 14 minutes from Sean Morrison, although home debutant Kalvin Phillips restored parity just three minutes later.
But it was Cardiff’s day, even in the absence of any travelling Bluebirds to hail victory as Leeds’ winless streak on home soil disappointingly stretched to three matches, with some boos ringing out at the final whistle.
Leeds head coach Redfearn fumed: “That was a poor performance.
“At half-time they needed a rocket from me and they got one. It is nothing personal, but it is important that they understand when I am not happy.
“The thing that was missing more than anything was a desire and the effort needed to get us back in the game. It was a strange performance from us because all the things we stood for during the run that got us out of trouble were missing today.
“They were two poor sides, to be honest, in a game that was strewn with bad decisions and mistakes. I was more unhappy with the senior players than anything.
“The kids give you effort and endeavour. They will make mistakes but you expect others to help them and that wasn’t there today.”
Leeds could not have any complaints and despite having their moments in the first-half, the second period was low-octane stuff in front of the Kop in the spring sunshine.
The match was a classic end-of-season confrontation, with the slightly bizarre sight of an empty away end with Cardiff fans boycotting the fixture in protest at Leeds’s ticketing policy.
It made for a slightly surreal atmosphere, made all the more so when the Bluebirds took the lead 14 minutes in - complete with the total absence of any cheers from away supporters.
Leeds switched off following a corner from Peter Whittingham on the left, with ex-United captain Lee Peltier, unmarked, heading the ball towards the far post, with Sean Morrison bundling home with Marco Silvestri left exposed.
But Cardiff’s lead lasted all of three minutes with home debutant Phillips afforded a moment to savour.
It owed plenty to a costly slip from visiting keeper David Marshall, with his faux pas from Charlie Taylor’s routine cross on the left enabling Phillips to nip in and coolly steer a low shot from point-blank range past the Scot.
It was an opening and indeed half in which neither back four covered themselves in glory with Leeds going close to taking the lead on 22 minutes when a flicked header from Giuseppe Bellusci - restored to the side in place of Liam Cooper - drifted wide following a decent free-kick delivery on the left from Luke Murphy.
Cardiff suffered a blow on 33 minutes when loan striker Conor McAleny left the fray with a hamstring injury - being afforded generous applause from home supporters after he pulled up clearly in pain - with Eoin Doyle coming on.
Morrison then produced a timely block to deny Sam Byram at the back post after Geatano Berardi’s cross evaded the home degfence before alert defending at the other end from Bellusci blocked an effort from Joe Mason.
Leeds were then afforded a major let-off after a poor pass from home captain Sol Bamba enabled Doyle to scamper clear, but Silvestri got his angles right to parry his steered shot away, only for referee Christopher Kavanagh to bizarrely not award a corner.
The action continued with Peltier booked for a foul on Taylor before Bellusci’s speculative lob was held.
Just before the break, more hesistant defending enabled Mason a sight of goal, but he dragged a shot wide after twisting and turning past Bellusci.
Doyle was then denied by a fine Silvestri save following a corner, only for the offside flag to go up with the half ending with Berardi firing wide.
The first salvo of the second half was fired by Leeds, with Mowatt finding an overlapping Byram, whose low goal was blocked by Scott Malone.
Play proceeded to become rather patchy but slowly but surely, Cardiff began to assert themselves with Craig Noone’s fine cross just diverted away from goal by some desperate defending from Scott Wootton before Silvestri blocked Mason’s shot at his near post with his legs.
Soon after, the visitors regained the lead, with Leeds again guilty of some rank-bad defending from a corner in a mini re-run of Cardiff’s opener.
Whittingham’s flag-kick was flicked towards goal by Peltier, with Morrison’s point-blank effort saved by Silvestri, only for Gunnarsson to bundle in the rebound as Leeds’ back four stood and watched.
It wasn’t long before Neil Redfearn made a double change with Billy Sharp and Steve Morison entering the fray for Mirco Antenucci and Phillips.
And Sharp soon went desperately close to giving Leeds the lead, when his instinctive header hit the bar following a good cross on the left from Taylor.
It was comfortably Leeds’s best effort of the second period, with their attacking play largely unconvincing.
A half-chance at the back post saw Morison head into the Kop from a narrow angle from Wootton’s centre, with moments of quality sporadic.
Cardiff went close to sealing three points when sub Kadeem Harris bundled the ball just wide after Noone’s cross caused consternation, with United’s defending again lamentable.
Time was starting to run out for Leeds, with it taking a speculative shot from Berardi, turned away by Marshall, to enliven proceedings a little.
Despite five minutes of stoppage time, Cardiff saw the game out in relative comfort.
Leeds United: Silvestri; Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi (Doukara 86); Byram, Murphy, Phillips (Morison 65), C Taylor; Mowatt; Antenucci (Sharp 64). Substitutes unused: S Taylor, Cooper, Ngoyi, Montenegro.
Cardiff City: Marshall; Peltier, Ecuele Manga, Morrison, Malone; Noone (O’Keefe 79), Whittingham, Gunnarsson, Ralls; McAleny (Doyle 33), Mason (Harris 71). Substitutes unused: Moore, Fabio, Adeyemi, Kennedy.
Referee: Christopher Kavanagh (Lancashire).