Pride was restored for Leeds United, but the end result was the same as they came away with no points from their game against Sky Bet Championship leaders Leicester City at Elland Road.
The table toppers were made to look ordinary, but after the Whites missed a hatful of chances in the first half-hour they were made to pay as they fell to a cruel 88th minute winner scored by David Nugent from Leicester’s only shot on target.
United boss Brian McDermott made four changes after the shocking 6-0 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday and went back to basics as he had indicated with a 4-4-2 formation and Luke Varney brought in up front to play alongside Ross McCormack. In midfield Michael Brown returned while Sam Byram and Stephen Warnock were restored to their full-back positions.
The biggest change was in attitude as Leeds came out fired up and got in their opponents’ faces right from the start, forcing mistakes and dominating the early exchanges.
They were unlucky not to go in front in the fifth minute when Varney latched onto a loose clearance to cross the ball and McCormack’s header hit the post.
Leicester replied in kind as Jamie Vardy got in behind a hesitant home defence to strike a shot against the outside of the post, but it was United forcing the pace and they came close again on eight minutes.
Following a weak punch by former Leeds stopper Kasper Schmeichel the ball fell to McCormack and his lob beat the keeper only to be headed off the line by Matty James. A follow-up shot by the United top scorer was then deflected and tipped wide by Schmeichel.
Varney headed wide from a corner a minute later then Jimmy Kebe sent a header into the side netting from a Rudy Austin cross.
United continued to swarm forward and more great chasing down by Varney led to Leicester defender Paul Konchesky playing a loose pass. McCormack latched onto it and ran clean through only to be denied by a superb save by Schmeichel. The follow-up fell to Varney only for his header to be easily cleared.
Leicester were fortunate to survive again on 26 minutes when Tom Lees somehow headed over a gaping goal after Schmeichel had misjudged a cross.
But after all the chances and misses the visitors survived and gradually got a foothold in the game. Anthony Knockaert showed that they could still be a danger as he flashed a shot over from the edge of the box.
The second half was an even contest and lacked the excitement of the first. Brown saw a shot from the edge of the box comfortably saved while James was not far wide from a similar range at the other end.
Cameron Stewart, who was disappointing on his home debut, did have a couple of shots deflected wide, but in contrast to earlier Leeds struggled to create openings for all their endeavour.
Leicester did not look any more likely to score, but they did late on when Liam Moore’s ball into the box was dummied by substitute Kevin Phillips and Nugent took a touch before being quicker than Lees and Paddy Kenny to the ball to poke it home from close range.
Defeats do not come much tougher to take than this, but the facts are that Leeds have now lost five games on the trot and have only scored three goals in their last seven matches.
Leeds United 0
Leicester City 1
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Kenny; Byram, Lees, Pearce, Warnock; Kebe (Peltier 85), Brown, Austin, Stewart; McCormack, Varney (Diouf 85).
Leicester: Schmeichel; De Laet (Wasilweski 64), Morgan, Moore, Konchesky; Knockaert, Drinkwater, James, Dyer (King 80); Nugent, Vardy (Phillips 75).
Referee: Mike Dean.