LEEDS United manager Dennis Wise accused his central defenders of being too easily bullied by West Brom's bruising striker John Hartson in the 3-1 FA Cup defeat at West Brom.

Hayden Foxe and Matt Heath teamed up at the heart of the defence and Wise complained: "Hartson bullied them. It took one of them 37 minutes to put in a tackle on Kevin Phillips and 30 minutes to put in a tackle on Hartson. We were not close enough to them and they caused us problems."

Ironically, Paul Butler and Sean Gregan, who had a much better defensive record last season than the present set-up, have left the club since Wise's arrival and the currently injured Matthew Kilgallon continues to be linked with a move away from Elland Road.

Constantly changing the defence hasn't helped and Wise admitted after the cup defeat: "I need a steady back four. We have had to shuffle the pack at the back quite a bit because of injuries and suspensions. Killa still has a problem with his ankle and we expect Frazer Richardson to be out for another two or three weeks."

Armando Sa, the former Espanol right back, made his debut at the start of the second half, along with tall Norwegian striker Tore Andre Flo. Shaun Derry also left the bench as Wise replaced Heath, teenage midfielder Jonny Howson and Ian Moore.

By then United were trailing to goals by Paul McShane and Hartson in a nightmare opening 15 minutes and although there was some improvement after the break, Phillips added Albion's third before Paul Robinson's injury-time own-goal gave United a little consolation.

The optimism caused by the league win over Coventry soon evaporated, with United failing to cope with the imagination of Jason Koumas and pace of Senegal international Diomansy Kamara.

Flo was only denied a debut goal by Russell Hoult's acrobatic save and Robbie Blake missed two good chances, but Albion were much more creative and Wise said: "We can do a lot better than that. We didn't get in behind their defence enough and that is something we must address."

Wise hopes to bring in two more players while the transfer window remains open but his buying power hasn't been helped by yet another early exit from the FA Cup.

United have crashed out of the competition in the third round for the last four seasons - to Arsenal, Birmingham, Wigan and West Brom - and their home defeat against Southend in the Carling Cup third round in October was another blow to the club's already stretched finances.

Leeds match facts

FA Cup, third round West Brom 3, Leeds United 1 (at The Hawthorns)West Brom: Hoult, McShane, Davies, Clement, Robinson, Kamara (Koren 82), Greening, Chaplow (Carter 81), Koumas, Hartson, Phillips. Subs not used: Zuberbuhler, Gera, Hodgkiss. Booked: Hartson. Goals: McShane 6, Hartson 15, Phillips 82.

Leeds United: Sullivan, Rui Marques, Foxe, Heath (Armandon Sa HT), Elliott, Blake, Howson (Derry HT), Nicholls, Lewis, healy, Moore (Flo HT). Booked: Foxe, Elliott. Subs not used: Westlake, Lund. Goal: Robinson og 90.

Referee: Nigel Miller (Co Durham).

Attendance: 16,957.