BOSS Neil Warnock pinpointed a “horrendous challenge” as the turning point in Leeds United’s 3-1 defeat at Derby County in the npower Championship.

Conor Sammon scored the opening goal for County and, although Paul Green equalised against his former club, Jake Buxton and Ben Davies sealed a 3-1 home win.

Warnock thought it might have been different if Derby midfielder Jeff Hendrick had been shown a red card instead of a yellow for a 35th-minute lunge on Ryan Hall.

“How Hendrick did not get a red card I will never, ever know,” he said.

“It’s a horrendous challenge, it’s a career threatening challenge and to get a yellow card for that, I do not understand the game.

“They’re even saying Ryan Hall got up quickly, as if that’s a crime. What do we tell them to do, stay down and roll around? It was bad at the time but it’s even worse when you watch it again.”

He added: “I thought we were poor for the first half hour but we withstood that and I didn’t think they could improve, but I thought we could be 100 per cent better in the second half and we were.

“The second goal was always going to be the winner and we couldn’t quite manage it. You need the rub of the green at times but it would have been entirely different with ten men.”

There was little to warm the fans on a cold afternoon until Derby took a quick free-kick inside the Leeds half in the 15th minute and teenager Will Hughes’ astute pass sent Sammon in to beat Paddy Kenny with a low shot from 12 yards.

Leeds had been second best but they scored just before the interval when Lee Peltier crossed from the left and Luciano Becchio headed on for Green to turn the ball in.

In the 66th minute, Leeds failed to clear a corner and Richard Keogh drove in a low shot which went in off Buxton in a crowded six-yard box.

Davies then came off the bench to settle the contest in the last minute of stoppage time.