Leeds United's fighting spirit gives Sam Allardyce hope of avoiding drop
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The Whites showed tremendous fighting qualities to earn a 2-2 draw with Newcastle despite Patrick Bamford having a penalty saved, Junior Firpo being sent-off in the closing stages and conceding two penalties to opponents in third place in the Premiership.
On a rollercoaster afternoon Leeds had plenty go against them, but stayed in the contest to earn a point that could prove valuable come the end of the season and the recently appointed Leeds head coach was proud of the efforts on show.
He said: "It should have been a victory. I believe with the commitment and spirit we showed if we had gone 2-0 up we would have won the game.
"But after getting knocked back by missing the penalty then conceding a penalty and getting a player sent-off it was a tremendous point in the circumstances.
"We shot ourselves in the foot, but we showed enough that if we cut out those mistakes we can get points.
"We conceded a penalty last week at Manchester City and I've been talking all week about staying on your feet and they haven't listened so they will be getting a telling off."
Allardyce was encouraged by plenty of what he saw in his second match in charge.
He added: "There is a lot of fighting spirit in the camp.
"We defended exceptionally well when we went down to 10 men and we were up against the team in third place in the league.
"We are standing up to be counted and we go marching on to the end.
"The fans were fantastic, but we gave themselves something to shout about. Scoring the first goal was important.
"What the lads did gave me hope going forward."
Leeds got the start they needed from the game as Bamford's cross was superbly headed by Rodrigo and equally well saved by England squad keeper Nick Pope, but the rebound was put home by Luke Ayling from close range.
Newcastle showed their first threats with Callum Wilson having a near post saved by Joel Robles and Migeul Almiron shooting into the side netting from another difficult angle.
But the visitors were frustrated by the Whites' 4-5-1 formation and it was Leeds who had a golden chance to double their lead in the 27th minute when Junior Firpo was brought down after combining well with Sam Greenwood to burst into the box.
Referee Simon Hooper rightly pointed to the spot, but Bamford's weak penalty was easily saved by Pope.
Within two minutes there was a penalty at the other end as Max Wober mistimed his tackle on Alexander Isak and again the right decision was made.
Unlike Bamford, Newcastle's Wilson made no mistake, however, with his spot kick and it was 1-1.
Now the visitors were in the ascendancy and Leeds had to dig in as Joe Willock hit a volley over, Fabian Schar headed over and Almiron sent an angled shot just wide.
But the hosts did fashion one more chance as Bamford set up Greenwood on the edge of the box only for the young midfielder to fire over.
In the second half Wilson saw a volley deflected over and Schar had a header cleared off the line while Weston McKennie sent a volley well over at the other end.
Newcastle went ahead thanks to VAR as they were gifted a penalty after the ball flicked to raised hand of Firpo as he jumped for a high ball in the box. Under the letter of the law it was a spot kick, although Hooper and his assistants missed it.
But there looked to have been two fouls by the visitors in the build-up – not seen by the referee – and more than a hint of a nudge of Firpo as he jumped. It was no surprise VAR did not intervene on any of these and Wilson successfully put away his second penalty of the day.
Leeds again dug in, however, and were rewarded as Rasmus Kristensen's volley from the edge of the box was deflected into the net off Kieran Trippier.
They could have won it as Bamford made contact with a near post header from an Adam Forshaw free-kick, but the ball went wide.
Robles made a good save to deny Allan Saint-Maximin before more late drama saw Firpo sent-off for a second yellow card offence after a barge in the back just outside the box.
Nothing came of the free-kick and Leeds survived eight minutes of added time to earn their point. Only time will tell if this proves enough.
(Ayling 7, Kristensen 79)
Newcastle United 2
(Wilson 29, pen, 69, pen)
Saturday, May 13, 2023
Leeds: Robles; Ayling, Kristensen, Wober, Firpo (sent-off 90); Koch, McKennie, Greenwood (Forshaw 45), Rodrigo (Aaronson 87), Harrison (Gnonto 64); Bamford (Struijk 90+1).
Newcastle: Pope; Trippier, Schar, Botman, Burn; Joelinton, Guimaraes, Willock (Anderson 87), Almiron (Gordon 72), Isak; Wilson (Saint-Maximin 72).
Referee: Simon Hooper