Leeds United were booed off by their supporters after their season plunged to a new low when they were embarrassed at home to Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road.
In their first home game for over a month the Whites were boosted by their two recent loan signings and were looking to kick start a late push into the play-off places, but instead suffered a second half collapse to lose 5-1 to opponents who looked in serious relegation danger a few weeks ago.
Many more defeats of this nature and it will be United looking nervously over their shoulder at the drop zone.
They were devoid of ideas at times and were guilty of comical defending to suffer the biggest home defeat since Brian McDermott took over as manager.
United showed one change from the side that drew at QPR and played with more promise last week with Scott Wootton back in at the back for the injured Jason Pearce, who was forced to miss his first game of the season.
They started in ineffective style, however, as they worked a few openings, but failed to deliver and little happened in a drab first half.
Luke Murphy did send an angled 25-yard shot not far over and Lee Peltier got forward from right-back to hit a shot that was comfortably saved by Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan.
At the other end, Mark Davies dragged a shot wide from inside the box and home keeper Jack Butland saved low down from Neil Danns’ 25-yarder
But it was a surprise when Bolton took the lead right on the stroke of half-time from a Leeds attack. Rudy Austin burst forward and was tripped from behind by Davies, but referee Keith Hill waved play on, the ball was lost and quickly transferred up the other end where Joe Mason found a gaping hole in the United defence before finishing confidently in a one-on-one with Butland.
The visitors doubled their lead seven minutes into the second half as the Leeds defence froze, expecting to see an offside flag that never came, and Lukas Jutkiewicz was left with an easy task to head home Jay Spearing’s free-kick.
Another free-kick four minutes later led to another goal when Wootton was beaten by Zat Knight who appeared to be able to dribble the ball over the line.
United boss McDermott responded by hauling off his ineffective wingers Jimmy Kebe and Cameron Stewart - to huge cheers from the crowd. But instead of boosting the hosts it was Bolton who scored next on 72 minutes when yet another cross was not dealt with and Davies got the ball over the line, possibly with use of his arm.
Leeds tried to respond as substitute Matt Smith sent a header over to sarcastic cheers then Wickham’s angled free-kick was tipped away by Bogdan.
However, there was more embarrassment to come when Wanderers sub Andrew Moritz was allowed as much time as he needed to size up a shot and whack the ball into the net off the crossbar to make it 5-0.
To some credit at least United kept plugging away and after Smith saw a header saved he did get a consolation goal in injury-time with a diving header from Ross McCormack’s cross.
It was too little and too late and the players were left knowing what the fans thought at the end.
The performance and result must put McDermott’s future as manager in doubt, but he refused to talk about his own position after the game.
He said: “It is pointless thinking about my own position. All I can do is get everyone together, train on Sunday and Monday and put a team out (against Reading) on Tuesday. That is what I want to do.”
Leeds United 1
Bolton Wanderers 5
(Mason 45, Jutkiewicz 52, Knight 56, Davies 72, Moritz 89):
Saturday, March 8, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Butland; Peltier (Byram 45), Lees, Wootton, Warnock; Kebe (Mowatt 64), Austin, Murphy, Stewart (Smith 64); McCormack, Wickham.
Bolton: Bogdan; Baptiste, Knight, Wheater, Ream; Kamara, Spearing (Moritz 83), Danns, Davies (Lee 75); Mason (Trotter 70), Jutkiewicz.
Referee: Keith Hill.