Leeds United end home season with unlucky defeat

Sol Bamba heads in Leeds United's goal against Charlton. PIC: James Hardisty

Sol Bamba heads in Leeds United's goal against Charlton. PIC: James Hardisty

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Leeds United failed to sign off their home games with a victory as they somehow contrived to lose 2-1 to already relegated Charlton Athletic.

The result was harsh on the Whites as they hit the woodwork and had numerous good chances, but they paid the price for some indecisive defending at important times either side of half-time as they went two down.

Captain Sol Bamba, who ended up playing the last 15 minutes up front, pulled a goal back, but it was not enough to prevent United from finishing with one of their worst ever home records in a season - only seven wins from 23 matches and only averaging one goal a game.

Leeds should have been one up in the first two minutes as Chris Wood sent Luke Murphy clean through on the angle of the box, but Charlton keeper Nick Pope came out to save with his feet.

The visitors came close soon after as Ademola Lookman fired a free-kick just wide before Stuart Dallas dragged a shot wide from the edge of the box for the Whites after a good turn and pass by Jordan Botaka.

Charlie Taylor then shot wide from an angle after a good run and Dallas saw his free-kick turned over by Pope.

Johann Gudmundsson showed that Charlton still carried a threat with a 20-yard shot that hit the post, but Leeds were mostly on top as Lewis Cook shot over, Wood headed wide from a Liam Bridcutt cross and Bridcutt sent a shot wide from range.

It was Charlton, however, who took the lead when Gudmundsson beat Bamba to the ball to score from close range after meeting a good low ball into the box.

Leeds looked to make a better start to the second half with Dallas seeing his deflected shot result in a comfortable save for Pope.

But four minutes in it was 2-0 as defenders backed off, allowing Lookman all the time in the world to pick his spot with a shot into the bottom corner of the net.

United responded well and were desperately unlucky not to score when Wood met Charlie Taylor’s cross only to see his header hit the underside of the crossbar. Botaka got on the end of the rebound, but could only shoot into the side netting from a tight angle.

Liam Cooper headed over from a corner before Botaka’s shot deflected wide and Murphy sent a 30-yarder over.

More Leeds pressure saw Botaka head a Taylor corner over before they finally pulled a deserved goal back, Bamba heading in from Taylor’s well delivered free-kick.

They seemed set to score again when substitute Mirco Antenucci raced clear only to see his angled shot beaten away by Pope with Wood unmarked in the box and ready for a pull back.

Antenucci did then put Wood in, but the New Zealand striker’s attempted flick finish was saved by Pope. It summed up Leeds’ day when the rebound somehow evaded the following up Antenucci.

In a spirited finish United threw everything at their opponents, but could not force an equaliser as Cook’s shot was tipped wide by Pope and Bamba’s last minute volley went over.

It was not the way head coach Steve Evans wanted to finish at Elland Road if this was to be his last game in charge of the team, but fans sang his name at the end to show their support for him.

After the game he said: “I can only sit here in amazement that he haven’t got anything out of the game.

“With a bit more quality in and around the box we would have been comfortable.

“Charlie Taylor gave us width in the second half and I thought he was outstanding. But if you give cheap goals away in the Championship you get punished.

“We still have a good opportunity to go to Preston and finish 11th.”

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Bamba 72)

Charlton Athletic 2

(Gudmundsson 39, Lookman 49)

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 25,458

Leeds: Silvestri, Coyle, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Mowatt 50), Bridcutt (Antenucci 66), Murphy (Diagouraga 75), Cook, Botaka, Wood.

Charlton: Pope, Fanni, Diarra, Teixeira, Fox, Harriott, Kashi, Jackson, Lookman (Ba 88), Gudmundsson (Makienok), Vetokele (Suk-Young 62).

Referee: Keith Hill.