Leeds United’s Premier League survival hopes received a late lift as they came from behind to earn a battling point against Newcastle United at Elland Road – in a match with three penalties and a red card.
Interim manager Sam Allardyce will be delighted by the spirit shown by Leeds as it looked like they would suffer a damaging defeat despite taking the lead through Luke Ayling’s early goal.
In a thunderous atmosphere, the game appeared to have turned when Patrick Bamford’s penalty on the half-hour was saved by Newcastle keeper Nick Pope, the disappointment deepening when Callum Wilson restored equality for the visitors from the spot moments later.
Wilson put Newcastle, who are looking to confirm a place in the top four, ahead with another penalty after 69 minutes when the video assistant referee ruled Junior Firpo had handled.
Leeds looked beaten but staged a rally and equalised when Rasmus Kristensen’s shot deflected in off Kieran Trippier’s head 11 minutes from time.
They had to hold on for the final minutes as Firpo was second off for a second bookable offence as he brought down Anthony Gordon.
There was an incident on the touchline towards the end too, as Newcastle boss Eddie Howe was shoved by a spectator who got into the manager’s technical area from the home end before being dragged away by security staff.
Allardyce’s team remain in the bottom three a point behind Everton but he may yet come to see this as a valuable result.
Will Leeds regret spot-kick woe?
Leeds United’s supporters showed appreciation for their side’s efforts as they took loud acclaim at the final whistle following a game that was desperately low on quality but high on tension.
Sam Allardyce has stated his aim to get to the final game of the season at home to Tottenham with a chance of survival and the point earned by Kristensen’s leveller keeps them on track for that.
Leeds, however, will surely look back at Bamford’s poor first-half penalty as a pivotal moment when they might have put themselves on the way to three points rather eventually happily settling for one.
They were one up and exerting a measure of domination on a Newcastle side who were struggling to settle inside a fevered Elland Road when Joelinton’s clumsy tackle on Firpo was rightly penalised.
Bamford, guilty of an awful injury-time miss in the recent home draw against Leicester City, never looked confident and keeper Nick Pope was able to make a comfortable save.
There was a collective groan around Elland Road when Maximilian Wober’s equally poor challenge on Alexander Isak gave Callum Wilson the chance to equalise, the striker then leaving Leeds looking at a potentially decisive loss when he added a second from the spot.
With Newcastle seemingly cruising, Leeds showed the character and resilience they will need to survive to equalise – and the reaction at the final whistle suggests that they felt this was one point gained rather than two lost.
Only time will tell, however, just how important than Bamford miss was.