THE personnel may change, but Leeds United’s wretched statistics against Cardiff stay the same.
The Bluebirds extended their unbeaten run against the Whites to 17 games – not that any travelling supporters saw the action unfold.
Picking a Grand National winner may have been a bit of a lottery on Saturday, but one sure-fire bet was that Cardiff invariably do well against Leeds, who could ill afford giving them a helping hand as they did in slumping to their third straight loss.
For Neil Redfearn, a bad period got worse, with the head coach, without the presence of Steve Thompson next to him in the dug-out, offering no excuses for his side’s unwholesome performance, particularly in the second half when his side were booed off by some fans at the end.
Meek defending from corners proved United’s undoing, failing to clear Peter Whittingham’s 14th-minute flag-kick which was eventually bundled in by Sean Morrison to give Cardiff the lead.
A goal to savour from home debutant Kalvin Phillips put United on terms three minutes later, but more lamentable back-four play enabled Aron Gunnarsson to net from close range after another Whittingham corner was not dealt with on 62 minutes.
Offering no excuses, Redfearn rued: “It was a poor performance. The thing that was missing more than anything was a desire and effort to try and get us back in the game.
“It’s a strange performance for us because all the things we stand for in the run that we’ve been on to get out of trouble, that was totally the opposite.
“At half-time they needed a rocket and they got a rocket. I always say to them ‘it’s not personal’ but it’s important they understand when I’m not happy.
“You’re looking for a reaction. Some things in football are a given – you’ve got to produce and the paying public have got to see that. Our performance was not acceptable.”
While Leeds were far from vintage in the first half, they had their moments, especially when Phillips cancelled out Morrison’s opener, chasing in on a slip from Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall following a cross from Charlie Taylor.
But the second half was a different story with Cardiff deserving their victory.
Leeds’s only moment of threat saw substitute Billy Sharp head against the bar following a well-delivered cross from Taylor, one of few Leeds players to emerge with credit on the day.
Leeds United: Silvestri; Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi (Doukara 86); Byram, Murphy, Phillips (Morison 65), C Taylor; Mowatt; Antenucci (Sharp 64). Unused substitutes: 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). Unused substitutes: Moore, Fabio, Adeyemi, Kennedy.
Referee: C Kavanagh (Lancashire).
Man of the match: Charlie Taylor.