Leeds United lose way after impressive first half

Goal scorer Mirco Antenucci.

Goal scorer Mirco Antenucci.

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Leeds United slipped down the Sky Bet Championship table after a second half surrender saw them lose to Wolves after they appeared in control in the first 45 minutes.

Some bright passing football and Mirco Antenucci’s 19th minute goal saw the Whites deservedly ahead at the break, but they failed to reproduce the same standard in the second half and could have no complaints about the eventual 2-1 defeat.

Goals from James Henry and Leon Clarke turned the game round and heaped pressure on head coach Darko Milanic, who was unable to halt his side’s second half slide and is still without a win in six matches.

Leeds had suspended top scorer Souleymane Doukara and injured Rudy Austin and Billy Sharp missing, but with Adryan making his long awaited home debut and a big crowd in at Elland Road everything seemed bright to start with.

They came close early on when recalled striker Steve Morison’s cross-shot was parried by Wolves keeper Carl Ikeme straight to Alex Mowatt, but he could only send his shot into the side netting.

On 19 minutes United took the lead after Mowatt’s superb long pass found Morison on the right and he passed inside to Antenucci, who beat Ikeme with a well struck shot from the edge of the box.

It should have been two five minutes later when Antenucci played in Morison again and his low cut back looked perfect for Mowatt eight yards out only for the young midfielder to shoot weakly with his wrong foot to present Ikeme with an easy save when he should have been nowhere near it.

Wolves showed they could be a threat as Dave Edwards shot wide after getting free in the box and Henry’s low shot from just outside the box was comfortably saved by Marco Silvestri.

But Leeds were still the better side at this stage and Tommaso Bianchi glanced a header wide from a terrific Giuseppe Bellusci cross.

Morison saw a shot deflected wide after combining well with Antenucci and Antenucci was denied by a good block after getting on the end of a Bellusci through ball.

However, it was a completely different story in the second half as Wolves put on a second striker in Leon Clarke and suddenly it was the Whites back pedalling.

The home defence stayed solid until the 59th minute when keeper Silvestri was forced to make an acrobatic fingertip save to keep out a header from Ethan Ebanks-Landell.

With his midfield beginning to get overrun Milanic responded by putting on Luke Murphy for Mowatt, but before he could make an impact United found themselves level.

An unlucky ricochet saw the ball fall kindly at the feet of Henry in the box and he gleefully smashed the ball into the roof of the net.

Leeds failed to respond and Wolves almost scored again when Rajiv Van La Parra volleyed wide after Silvestri lost the flight of a corner.

The visitors still looked more likely to score in the final quarter as Clarke’s shot was directed straight at Silvestri and Nouha Dicko fired over.

Leeds finally put an attack of note together only for it to end with Morison pulling an angled shot wide.

But five minutes from time it was the visitors who came up with a winner when Dicko’s low cross was turned in by Clarke to make it 2-1.

Forward Brian Montenegro was thrown on for his debut, but United never looked like getting an equaliser with their only effort a long range shot from Lewis Cook that flew wide in added time.

Head coach Milanic said: “We played well in the first half, but we had only one goal.

“But we lost control of the game from the first minute of the second half.

“We were without possession, we were without passes and didn’t play like we did in the first half or like we have to do. It was very good in the first half, but it is not enough, we have to play for 90 minutes.”

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Antenucci 19)

Wolverhampton Wanderers 2

(Henry 66, Clarke 88)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 27,883

Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock, Bianchi (Montenegro 88), Cook, Mowatt (Murphy 64), Adryan (Sloth 74), Antenucci, Morison.

Wolves: Ikeme, Doherty, Batth, Ebanks-Landell, Rowe, Henry, Evans, McDonald, Jacobs (Van La Parra 64), Edwards (Clarke 45), Dicko (Stearman 87).

Referee: David Webb.