Leeds United 1 Coventry City 1: No eighth wonder as Leeds fail to turn up heat on promotion rivals Ipswich Town in a feisty finale

ON THE last occasion that Leeds United won eight home league games in a row outside of the top-two tiers, the team who they beat in the eighth match was Coventry City.

That was back in March 1991. Unfortunately, there was no repeat as Leeds failed to collect three points at Elland Road for the first time since September 2 on an afternoon which ended up in feistiness.

The failure to pick up maximum points was costly, given top-two rivals Ipswich Town’s draw with Norwich City in the early kick-off.

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This was an opportunity for Leeds to make inroads ahead of next weekend’s meeting with the East Anglians at LS11.

A rumpus ensues at the final whistle as Willy Gnonto holds off Crysencio Summerville after Leeds United's draw with Coventry City. Picture Bruce Rollinson.A rumpus ensues at the final whistle as Willy Gnonto holds off Crysencio Summerville after Leeds United's draw with Coventry City. Picture Bruce Rollinson.
A rumpus ensues at the final whistle as Willy Gnonto holds off Crysencio Summerville after Leeds United's draw with Coventry City. Picture Bruce Rollinson.

It looked like Leeds had set up that mouth-watering fixture nicely after a beautiful finish on 58 minutes from Crysencio Summerville, his tenth goal of the season arriving after a deliciously weighted pass from assist king Georginio Rutter. It allowed the door of a well-organised Coventry side.

Leeds pushed at the end in a frantic finale, with tempers also fraying between both sides at the final whistle, with goalscorer Summerville – who had clashed with Sky Blues substitute Kasey Palmer – having to be pulled away by team-mates after a flare up following Geoff Eltringham’s decision to call time.

But in the final analysis, there was no victory, in agonising fashion, for Leeds who failed to punch Ipswich on the nose.

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In stoppage time, Joe Rodon headed over, while a huge chance was afforded to Dan James after being played in by Joe Gelhardt.

The script was surely written. James would score for a sixth successive home game to maintain Leeds’s imperious home form. But alas, he missed.

The decisive moment came eight minutes after Summerville’s 58th-minute opener when ex-Barnsley loanee Bobby Thomas headed in to restore parity to stun most of the home crowd.

It proved a frustrating day for Leeds.

The first half was a grind, with Coventry’s game plan in fairness working well with Robins having set his side up smartly.

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While United’s previous visitors in Middlesbrough were prepared to take the game to the hosts in an offensive sense, Coventry were more circumspect, but pretty clever all the same.

With his side having had a day’s less to prepare, Robins made three changes, with three attack-minded players in Haji Wright, Callum O’Hare and Jamie Allen dropping to the bench.

The game plan was to block spaces down Leeds’s avenues of opportunity down the flanks and in the middle and stymie them, while providing the odd flurry on the counter.

It worked nicely enough, with Leeds unable to get a rhythm going as they can.

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Operating in a defensive midfield role, Joel Latibeaudiere, who actually started on at Leeds before joining Manchester City’s academy, pushed his luck at times with one or two challenges.

One of three centre midfielders, in a 4-5-1 formation, Latibeaudiere saw his slight nudge on Dan James go unpunished midway through the half on one of the few occasions that the Sky Blues were caught out.

Eltringham was also not interested when he did all he could to stop Summerville going around him not too long after.

In terms of chances, Leeds - unchanged from the midweek loss at Sunderland - had a couple of decent ones.

Unfortunately, they were both spurned by Rutter.

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He turned and spun past Latibeaudiere after latching onto Glen Kamara’s pass and saw his shot flash wide. A better opportunity saw him played in by Summerville after Ben Sheaf’s loose pass, but he fired wide when well placed.

It was a frustrating half for Rutter who also just failed to get on the end of a dangerous low cross from James with the goal gaping.

Towards the Leeds goal, the Sky Blues had a couple of flurries.

Overplaying at the back from Archie Gray and James coughed up the ball and Sheaf’s drive was turned away by Meslier while Tatsuhiro Sakamoto dragged a shot tamely wide.

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On the restart, the angst continued for Leeds, with Coventry sticking to their game plan with iron-clad discipline.

Leeds did exert some pressure as the clock headed towards the hour mark and the Sky Blues wall was finally broken thanks to an exquisite move finished off superbly by Summerville.

Leeds had their mojo again. James was soon provided with space to gallop in and his cross-shot flew wide.

The onus was now on Coventry. With plenty of good attacking options on his bench, when would Robins call for them?

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Just as he was about to, his side levelled it up through an unlikely source in Thomas.

The defender started and finished a polished move, getting above Gray to head in after good work by Ellis Simms to set up Sakamoto, who set over an inviting cross from the right.

Two attackers in O’Hare and Wright came on, more than enough evidence that the Sky Blues were fancying more than a point.

In terms of a response, it came from Summerville, whose shot was beaten out by Collins, with Piroe blazing the rebound over.

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Rutter then tested the reactions of Collins with a piledriver with the ex-Barnsley keeper then going well to keep out the same player’s follow-up as Leeds upped the ante.

It made for an engrossing finale. Leeds pushed for a winner and emptied the bench. Cov also had their moments. Ex-Huddersfield loanee Kasey Palmer shot at Meslier and soon after, got himself involved in some silly push and shove after a foul.

It was all going off as the noise levels rose from the Kop and the game became very animated. Sadly no winner - as hard as Leeds tried.

Leeds United: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Struijk, Spence (Gnonto 78), Ampadu, Kamara (Bamford 78); James, Piroe (Gelhardt 85), Summerville; Rutter. Unused substitutes: Darlow, Ayling, Cooper, Anthony, Greuv, Joseph.

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Coventry City: Collins; Van Ewijk (Allen 79), Thomas, Kitching, Bidwell (Wright 67); Sakamato (O’Hare 67) Latibeaudiere, Eccles, Sheaf, Dasilva; Simms (Palmer 79); Unused substitutes: Wilson, Binks, McFadzean, Godden, Ayari.

Referee: G Eltringham (Tyne and Wear).

Attendance: 36,700.