GARRY MONK insists that Leeds United’s momentum will not be significantly damaged by yesterday’s 2-0 home reverse to Newcastle United and believes the result must be afforded perspective.
In front of a bumper crowd of 36,002 – the biggest at Elland Road since 38,232 attended the FA Cup third-round replay defeat to Arsenal in January 2011 – Leeds passed up the opportunity of strengthenning their top-six credentials as Championship leaders Newcastle secured their eighth straight league win.
A goal in each half from Dwight Gayle, who took his season’s tally to 13, did the damage as Leeds missed out on the chance of leapfrogging Yorkshire neighbours Huddersfield Town and moving up to fourth place on goal difference.
Instead, the Whites remain in seventh place after suffering their first home reverse in eight matches.
But despite the defeat, Monk says that Leeds should not be too hard on themselves with the United head coach also convinced that his side were denied a nailed-on penalty at a key juncture of the first half.
Adamant that his side must not dwell upon or be too downhearted with the defeat, Monk said: “It can feel like that because we have set a high standard and high expectations.
“We came here in a positive mind-frame to give the fans something to go home with, but I do not think we can be too critical of the way we are.
“We were playing a very good side. Their second goal was the one moment where you really saw their quality. From their point of view, it is a quality goal.
“I am disappointed with the result, but I cannot complain about my players.”
Monk also refused to criticise home goalkeeper Rob Green, whose horrific mistake in dropping a 40-yard lob from Jack Colback gifted Gayle a 23rd-minute opener.
But the United chief did find cause to berate referee Graham Scott for not awarding a spot-kick just before the interval, with Colback blocking a cross from Ronaldo Vieira with his elbow.
Influential defender Pontus Jansson was booked amid heated remonstrations from home players, with the Swede to miss next weekend’s derby at Rotherham United after picking up his fifth booking of the campaign.
Monk said: “The game was decided on critical moments. Our commitment was very good, but we fell on the wrong side of those moments. Had we not, we probably would have got a result.
“I have had many penalties given against me and my teams for much less than that. It was clear-cut in my eyes.
“Your hands are raised, you are half turning your back. There is no need for an explanation. It is clear cut, but he did not give it.”
On Green’s error, he added: “It is an honest mistake, a genuine mistake.
“Rob, like all of us, will be disappointed, but we did enough to score in the game.”
Middlesbrough, meanwhile, were unable to prevent Chelsea from going back to the top of the Premier League as Diego Costa struck the only goal in a 1-0 Blues win at the Riverside Stadium.
Boro head coach Aitor Karanka was disappointed with the result, but delighted with much of what he saw.
Karanka said: “Playing against teams like Chelsea, we knew that it was going to be a really, really tough game, but once again we showed everybody that we can compete against the best teams in the league and, once again, one mistake punished us.
“To concede a goal from a set-piece is a mistake. I don’t want to blame any player because I say always we win as a team and we lose as a team, but, when you concede a goal from a set-piece for me, it is a mistake.
“You can’t be pleased when you have lost a game, especially at home, but I am really pleased with the attitude of the players because playing in the way that we have been doing in the last month and a half, we are in the right way.”
Twenty-year-old winger Adama Traore repeatedly threatened to make Chelsea pay for not killing off the game, but ultimately failed to capitalise on a series of chances. Karanka said: “He is doing really well, he is improving a lot, but he has much more to improve and much more to learn.”
Reports from Premier League to non-League: Pages 2-5.