NEIL REDFEARN bought the next Leeds United head coach some precious time as he oversaw a 1-0 Championship victory over fellow strugglers Bolton at Elland Road.
Promoted from Academy manager to caretaker head coach in the wake of David Hockaday’s midweek sacking, ex-York City youth coach Redfearn was delighted his blend of youth and new foreign imports ended a run of three defeats.
The international break means the Whites won’t be in action again until they go to Birmingham on September 13, giving owner Massimo Cellino more time to find his new man.
The result won’t have done Redfearn’s own chances any harm if he harbours any desire to occupy the hottest of hot-seats in the Championship.
Injuries and suspensions may have forced his hand to play youngsters Lewis Cook and Alex Mowatt in midfield but the teenagers added much-needed zip.
“Cook was the best player on the pitch. He is old beyond his years and nothing fazes him,” Redfearn said of the 17-year-old.
But it was a senior member of the team, Stephen Warnock, who broke the deadlock in the 17th minute, his low cross-shot nestling in the bottom corner of Adam Bogdan’s net.
Warnock limped off early in the second half to be replaced by another Academy product Charlie Taylor while AC Milan loanee Zen Benedicic, 18, came on for his Championship debut, replacing another first starter, Danish international Casper Sloth.
Given the lack of United’s Championship experience, Bolton improved in the second period after moving Neil Danns to quell the midfield dominance of Cook, Mowatt and Tommaso Bianchi.
As Leeds dropped deeper, home goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, who tipped a Joe Mason effort on to the bar in the first half, made several crucial stops.
He saved the best until deep in injury time with a double close range save from former Leeds hero Jermaine Beckford and Lee Chung-Yong.
The hard-earned win relieves much of the pressure that had been building at Elland Road and gives president Cellino much to think about.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock (C Taylor 54), Bianchi, Cook, Mowatt, Sloth (Benedicic 77), Antenucci, Sharp. Subs (not used): S Taylor, Smith, Tonge, Dawson, Cooper. Cautions: Wootton, Pearce.
Bolton Wanderers: Bogdan, White, Wheater (Dervite 7), Mills, Ream, Kamara (Feeney 81), Spearing, Chung-Yong, Danns, Davies (Beckford 77), Mason.
Referee: Simon Hooper (Wiltshire).