Wood claims big point for Leeds United at Newcastle
Chris Wood's injury-time volley earned Leeds United what could be a vital point with a 1-1 draw against Newcastle st St James's Park.
Garry Monk’s men looked set for defeat on a day when promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday and Fulham had already won before Wood’s late intervention form Kemar Roofe’s cross.
Quite how they claimed a point is hard to fathom after they were outplayed for much of the contest against opponents battling to win the championship, but it said much about their spirit - and the heroic defending of Pontus Jansson and Rob Green in particular.
Newcastle forced an incredible 19 corners to nil and 18 shots to four, but it was Leeds fans celebrating at the end after the late, late goal.
Leeds boss Monk made one change from the side that beat Preston with captain Liam Bridcutt brought back in after injury to replace Ronaldo Vieira.
They started well and were unlucky not to go ahead in the eighth minute as Alfonso Pedraza’s 20-yard strike hit the underside of the crossbar and from the follow-up Kemar Roofe could not get enough poor in a header, allowing Karl Darlow to save.
A minute later there was more luck for Newcastle as Jonjo Shelvey escaped a card despite a high boot catching Pablo Hernandez in the head and resulting in Leeds playing with 10 men for a few minutes while the Spaniard was patched up on the sidelines.
Once the hosts began to get their game together they looked dangerous and showed why they have been up near the top in the EFL Championship all season.
Matt Ritchie saw a cross-shot blocked after a corner was not cleared and eight more home corners followed in the opening half.
From one of them Shelvey tried to catch out keeper Rob Green as he attempted to curl the ball in at the near post. He almost succeeded, but the former England stopped managed to keep the ball out.
Ritchie fired wide from a one-two on the edge of the box and Chancel Mbemba headed well wide after finding himself free in the box from another corner.
Leeds got forward and Pedraza fired an angled shot just wide with the ball also just eluding Roofe at the far post.
Newcastle put a big finish to the half and it was their turn to be desperately unlucky when Yoan Gouffran latched onto a poor touch by Hernandez and smashed a shot against the post from just outside the box. The rebound fell for Ritchie, but his goalbound shot was brilliantly diverted over by Pontus Jansson.
From the resulting corner Mbemba was left unmarked only to see his header tipped over by Green.
The next corner saw the ball fall to Ayoze Perez, but as he turned and shot the ball was well blocked by Bridcutt.
The second half started with a succession of free-kicks given away by the Whites and although Kalvin Phillips escaped a booking for a heavy challenge both centre-backs Jansson and Bartley were controversially carded by referee Chris Kavanagh.
Ritchie saw an angled free-kick tipped wide by Green and Leeds survived past the hour mark.
The pressure was building and only great covering by Jansson prevented Aleksandar Mitrovic from scoring as he latched onto Luke Ayling’s weak back pass and flicked the ball over Green.
Newcastle finally broke the deadlock, however, on 67 minutes when Mitrovic headed across goal and Jamaal Lascelles’s header just went over the line despite a despairing diving effort by Green.
It was still all Newcastle as Perez was next to try his luck with an acrobatic volley that was saved at point blank range by Green.
It proved a vital stop as from that point Newcastle decided to concentrate on wasting time rather than go for the throat and Leeds managed to hang on in.
They never looked like scoring until in the fifth minute of injury-time Wood, who had hardly had a kick all match, got on the end of Roofe’s cross to volley past Darlow - to the delight of the 3,000 plus travelling fans.
Head coach Monk was delighted that his side snatched the point.
He said: “It leaves a good feeling in the dressing room.
“We knew before the game it was going to be extremely difficult playing against a really good side.
“We started the game very well and really should have scored, which would have changed the game a little bit, but the crowd got up with them and started to bring it more towards our goal.
“We had to defend a lot of set pieces, but we defended them brilliantly. But you can’t keep conceding set pieces and from one they got the goal.
“It shows the spirit in the group. We’ve come a long way and competitiveness is a big strength of ours, to go right to the end of the game and still have that belief to get something from the game.
“We know we can play better, but we fight, and for that effort and spirit they deserved the point.”
Newcastle United 1
Leeds United 1
Friday, April 14, 2017
Newcastle: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Mbemba, Dummett, Ritchie (Yedlin 84), Shelvey, Hayden (Colback 79), Gouffran, Perez (Diame 90), Mitrovic.
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi (Taylor 78), Bridcutt (Doukara 78), Phillips, Roofe, Hernandez, Pedraza (Sacko 61), Wood.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.