Leeds United’s Cardiff hoodoo strikes again

Tom Lees gets a header in for Leeds United against Cardiff. Picture: IAN HARBER
Tom Lees gets a header in for Leeds United against Cardiff. Picture: IAN HARBER

Leeds United’s Cardiff hoodoo struck again as they sank to defeat against the Npower Championship leaders at Elland Road on Saturday.

The Whites could take heart that they were not outplayed by opponents who are 10 points clear at the top and they would could have won had Ross Barkley put away a first half sitter and if referee Mike Dean had seen a blatant handball in the box by Mark Hudson after the break.

Manager Neil Warnock certainly thought his side had been robbed, but in front of a surprisingly low 19,236 crowd there was no hiding the disappointment of yet another defeat to Cardiff with Leeds failing to end their 29-year wait for a win over the Welsh club.

Cardiff scored with their only shot on target and left with all three points despite home keeper Paddy Kenny not making a serious save throughout.

Cardiff custodian David Marshall was not too busy either, however, in a flat game that never really took off.

He was forced to make a big save in the first half when keeping the ball out with his legs after Barkley met Sam Byram’s flick on, but failed to hit his volley with enough power from five yards out.

Craig Bellamy put the ball in the net for Cardiff only to be correctly ruled offside, but half-time came with neither side deserving to score.

Chances continued to be few and far between after the break, but the visitors crucially took the one that came their way in the 64th minute when Byram failed to clear an overhit cross and Bellamy’s mishit shot was turned in by Fraizer Campbell just three minutes after he had come on as substitute.

Although they had plenty of possession Leeds rarely looked like levelling until the 79th minute when Tom Lees saw a header well saved by Marshall and from the rebound the ball was controlled by Cardiff defender Hudson with his arm, enabling a clearance to be made. The officials failed to spot the handball and the league leaders escaped.

More pressure followed at the Cardiff end, but with their defence holding strong they were able to see out the closing stages comfortably for another win that takes them a step closer to the Premiership.

Leeds, without sold top scorer Luciano Becchio and his replacement Steve Morison who was not considered fit enough to play, lacked a cutting edge and slipped down to 12th in the table with successive away games to come now.

Manager Warnock felt United should have got something from the game.

He said: “It is a cruel game sometimes. We missed open goals and the young lad (Sam Byram) made a schoolboy error.

“Our two centre-halves were magnificent, we played some good stuff against the top of the table team and were better than them, so it’s very frustrating that we got nothing.

“I thought Mike Dean had a good game, but he didn’t see the handball, when we all appealed, because he was in a bad position and should have been in a better one.

“He had three or four bodies in the way. The linesman could have helped him out. Then there was another handball in the 93rd minute that wasn’t given.

Match facts

Leeds United 0

Cardiff City 1

(Campbell 64)

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Npower Championship

Att: 19,236

Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Peltier, White, Barkley, Brown, Austin, Varney, Diouf (Habibou 73), McCormack.

Cardiff: Marshall, Connolly, Hudson, Turner, Taylor, Conway (Helguson 79), Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Kyung (Campbell 61), Smith, Bellamy.

Referee: Mike Dean.