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Match report: Leeds United 1, Leicester City 2
THERE was more than a hint of relief in Leeds United manager Neil Warnock’s voice as he assessed yet another Championship home defeat.
Teenage debutant Harry Panayiotou earned Leicester City a 2-1 win with a deflected goal at the death to condemn the Whites to a club record 11th home loss of the season.
Quite simply, Warnock is glad to see the back of a dreadful season which has seen Leeds win only three out of 14 games since he took over from Simon Grayson in February.
Now he will embark on a major squad rebuilding programme in the summer. That will start on Wednesday when he announces his retained list which is likely to see a large number of the current playing staff released.
Portsmouth central defender Alex Pearce and the controversial El Hadj-Diouf, who Warnock once likened to a “sewer rat”, have both been linked with moves to Elland Road.
“I think the record shows how low we have come. Instead of being a fortress, it’s been a weakness. It won’t happen again. This is the lowest ebb for Leeds to lose that many games,” said Warnock.
The match – and the result – mirrored what Leeds fans have had to endure at home this season.
After a bright beginning in which they should have taken the lead, Leeds gave away a catastrophic goal on 34 minutes when Danny Pugh failed to clear and Martyn Waghorn put the Foxes ahead.
From that moment the visitors took a grip on the game, but failed to make the most of some good openings to increase their lead.
With eight minutes remaining, Robert Snodgrass, one of the few bright lights of 2011/12, did the spade work to set up Danny Webber’s close range equaliser.
But deep into injury time Ben Marshall’s shot was deflected past goalkeeper Andy Lonergan by 17-year-old substitute Panayiotou to saddle Leeds with an unwanted club record.
Warnock has a huge job on his hands as he tries to revive the fortunes of a club who failed to build on their seventh-placed finish last season. The slide down the table is not too surprising given the loss of players like Max Gradel and Jonny Howson and the failure to replace them with similar quality.
If Leeds are to be competitive next season Warnock will need some financial support as the Championship promises to be as competitive as ever.
He knows if he gets it right the potential is vast as more than 25,000 turned out in poor weather on Saturday for a nothing game between two of the division’s big under-achievers.
Leeds Utd: Lonergan, Connolly, Lees, Bruce, Pugh, McCormack, Thompson (Webber 56), Brown, Clayton, Snodgrass, Becchio (Forssell 75). Subs (not used): O’Brien, Nunez, Taylor.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Moore, Morgan, St Ledger, Konchesky, Bamba, Drinkwater, Marshall, Dyer (Panayiotou 72), Waghorn (Nugent 63), Beckford (Vassell 45). Subs (not used): Peltier, Logan.
Referee: Danny McDermid (Middlesex).