Leeds United let lead slip

Max Gradel, who opened the scoring for Leeds United at Derby only for the hosts to hit back within two minutes. Picture: IAN HARBER
Max Gradel, who opened the scoring for Leeds United at Derby only for the hosts to hit back within two minutes. Picture: IAN HARBER
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LEEDS United squandered a second half lead at Derby to suffer a third straight away defeat that puts their play-off place in serious jeopardy.

Max Gradel fired the Whites ahead on 58 minutes, but within four minutes they were behind as Jamie Ward and Ben Davies scored a quick one-two for the hosts.

They were unable to recover and Derby were able to celebrate doing the double over Leeds, having also beaten them 2-1 at Elland Road on the opening day of the season.

The latest defeat added to the pressure on United, who are now five points behind fifth-placed Reading and only one in front of Nottingham Forest in seventh. They do, however, have three of their last five matches at home.

Their away form has suddenly gone off the rails, but they played well enough in the first half at Pride Park to suggest an improvement.

Although the game remained scoreless at the break United had looked comfortable and had the better of the chances with Jonny Howson, Max Gradel and recalled midfield duo Barry Bannan and Neil Kilkenny all getting efforts in on goal.

They took the lead in the second half when Gradel beat home keeper Brad Jones with a fine strike only for Derby to go straight down the other end after an error by Jake Livermore to equalise as Ward got on the end of a low cross.

Within two minutes the hosts had a second with Ben Davies beating Kasper Schmeichel with a stunning volley.

Leeds then huffed and puffed and put on all three subs without reward and it was Derby who came closest to another goal when Ward scraped the woodwork with another well hit shot. Schmeichel also saved well to deny Ben Davies his second.

Gradel was denied his second by a good save from Jones and United headed back north disappointed.

Match facts

Derby County 2

(Ward 60, B Davies 62)

Leeds United 1

(Gradel 58)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Npower Championship

Att: 27,252

Derby: Jones, Brayford, Ayala, Barker, Roberts, Savage, B Davies, Bailey, S Davies (Addison 90), Pearson (Robinson 74), Ward (Porter 85).

Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly. O’Brien, Bromby, Lichaj, Bannan (McCormack 72), Livermore (Johnson 63), Kilkenny, Howson, Gradel, Becchio (Somma 63).

Referee: Graham Salisbury.