VICTORY slipped through Leeds United’s grasp as they slid to a 2-1 defeat at Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday.

A fine first half by the visitors counted for nothing as Antonio Conte celebrated his first Premier League home game as the North London side’s boss with maximum points.

Depleted Leeds failed to add to their two victories and are still dangling precariously above the relegation zone but will take plenty of positives from the performance.

With star man Raphinha ill, Patrick Bamford, Rodrigo, Luke Ayling and Jamie Shackleton all injured, it was a thin squad that rolled up at Tottenham’s impressive stadium with five teenagers on the bench.

That led to a full debut for England Under-21 striker Joe Gelhardt who was replaced late on by another debutant, 19-year-old Stuart McKinstry.

Given the lack of several senior players it was a surprise that Leeds dominated the first-half against a nervy, lacklustre home team.

With Kalvin Phillips deployed in defence to successfully shackle Harry Kane, it was left to Adam Forshaw to boss midfield, dictating play and keeping Leeds on the front foot. Both Jack Harrison and Dan James shone of the wings and Gelhardt did not look out of place as a Premier League striker.

Just before half-time Leeds gained the lead they deserved. Harrison out-foxed Emerson Royal on the left and laid his cross on a plate for James to open his Leeds scoring account.

Spurs, no doubt fired up by choice words from their new chief, were a different proposition in the second half as they took on Leeds man-to-man and upped their intensity.

Kane missed a big chance after half-time as Illan Meslier’s close-range block saw the ball squirt on to the post.

On 51 minutes Son had an effort deflected onto bar as Leeds started to creak under pressure.

Even though Leeds still carried a threat, mainly through James and Gelhardt, a Tottenham equaliser was always on the cards, coming via a scuffed shot from Pierre-Emil Hjoberg on 58 minutes.

The second half was more of the game most people expected with Spurs forcing Leeds into increasingly desperate defending.

A Liam Cooper foul close to the box saw Eric Dier’s 69th-minute free-kick deflected onto a post and Sergio Reguilon reacted sharply to knock in the rebound.

Leeds huffed and puffed after that but Tottenham looked sharper and started to take the ball off United’s players in a complete reversal of the first half.

Leeds had more possession and more shots but came away empty-handed.

A disappointed Phillips said: “We needed a better game management. We were 1-0 up in the second half trying to push for a second goal. It’s those moments you probably need to pump it long and soak up the pressure.

“We are missing some very good players in our team, some very important players. It’s not an excuse, although we did come here and play some good football.

“I’m not one for panicking. The way we play football we’ll eventually stack some more points on the board.”

Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Tanganga (Sanchez 68), Dier, Davies, Emerson Royal, Hojberg, Winks, Reguilon (Sessegnon 79), Lucas Moura (Alli 88), Son. Kane. Subs (not used): Doherty, Sanchez, Gil, Rodon, Sessegnon, Alli, Gollini, Bergwijn, Ndombele.

Caution: Emerson Royal

Leeds United: Meslier, Dallas, Llorente, Cooper, Struijk, Phillips, Forshaw (Roberts 72), Klich (Firpo 58), James, Harrison, Geldhardt (McKinstry 87). Subs (not used): Firpo, Roberts, Klaesson, Cresswell, Drameh, McKinstry, Greenwood, McCarron, Jenkins.

Caution: Geldhardt, Forshaw, Cooper, Phillips

Ref: Andre Marriner

Attendance: 58,589