Leeds Unted 1 Birmingham 2: Sacko fails to rescue Whites

Missed header for Kemar Roofe.
Missed header for Kemar Roofe.
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LEEDS UNITED slumped to their second successive defeat of the Championship season, paying the price for a poor second-half display en route to defeat to Gary Rowett’s Blues.

It looked rather more promising in the first-half, when Leeds showed attacking flair led by Alex Mowatt, but they faded alarmingly on the restart with Blues taking advantage and dominating the second period.

Their winner arrived ten minutes into the second half with rank-bad defending allowing Michael Morrison to seize upon Jon Grounds’ cross and fire home from close range.

Earlier, Hadi Sacko had cancelled out Jacques Maghoma’s 15th-minute opener, aided by an error from Tomasz Kuszczak on 27 minutes.

An entertaining first half ended level pegging, with Leeds producing an eye-catching and vibrant performance going forward, with Mowatt at the heart of all things good.

That said, they were caught with a sucker punch on the counter-attack which enabled Blues - specialists on the break on their travels last term - to draw first blood with Maghoma’s 15th-minute opener.

To their credit, Leeds refused to lose heart and it was fitting that Mowatt provided the assist for Sacko for the leveller 12 minutes later, although it owed plenty to the ineptitude of Blues keeper Kuszczak.

The ex-Manchester United stopper allowed Sacko’s low shot to horribly squirm under him after the loan winger was supplied adeptly by Mowatt.

It was Leeds’s half with the hosts - with seven players making their first appearances at Elland Road including new signing Luke Ayling - almost going ahead in the tenth minute when Marcus Antonsson, making his first start, seeing his powerful strike clip the woodwork after a strong spell of home pressure.

But it was Blues who stunned the vasy majority of the big crowd with an opener out of nothing.

Leeds were dispossessed and a searing break ended with Stephen Gleeson feeding the onrushing Maghoma, who slotted the ball low past the advancing Robert Green, with the winger receiving attention after colliding with the Leeds keeper en route to scoring.

It was a deflating development for the raucous home crowd, but Leeds preservered, although they had a let-off when David Cotterill’s deflected shot flew just wide.

But soon after, parity was restored when a perceptive pass from Mowatt found Sacko, whose effort was not dealt with by Kuszczak on 27 minutes.

The visiting keeper performed rather better to turn away a piledriver from Ayling, enjoying a sound debut, on 34 minutes while David Davis saw a scorching shot whistle just wide before the break.

The restart saw Leeds fail to get going at all, aside from a mini-late rally as they faded in poor fashion.

Morrison cashed in to fire Blues ahead after a Cotterill corner wasn’t cleared with Leeds’ flaky defence failing to cope with Grounds’ follow up cross.

Taking a grip in midfield, Blues held saw with Clayton Donaldson testing Green before a rare home foray late on saw Stephen Glesson almost divert a corner from sub Kalvin Phillips into his own net - with Ayling heading over soon after.

Leeds’ best chance arrived when Antonsson fired straIght at Kuszczak, but it was Blues’ day as they held out comfortably in seven minutes of stoppage-time, with their only scare coming when sub Kemar Roofe headed off target.

Leeds United: Green; Ayling, Bamba, Bartley, Taylor; Hernandez (Dallas 86), Vieira; Sacko, Antonsson, Mowatt (Phillips 73); Wood (Roofe 60). Substitutes unused: Turnbull, Coyle, Cooper, Grimes.

Birmingham City: Kuszczak; Spector, Morrison, Shotton, Grounds; Kieftenbeld, Cotterill, Davis (Tesche 66), Gleeson (Robinson 90), Maghoma; Donaldson. Substitutes unused: Ledzdins, Fabbrini, Adams, Stewart, Storer.

Referee: P Tierney (Lancashire).

Attendance: 27,392 (960 Birmingham fans).

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