LEEDS United survived floodlight failures and twice going behind to earn a battling point at Portsmouth and Simon Grayson was relieved to bring home a point.
The 2-2 draw, earned by second half goals from strikers Luciano Becchio and Davide Somma (pictured), kept the Whites in fifth place in the Npower Championship, although their inability to beat a Portsmouth side low on confidence in recent weeks saw them lose ground to promotion rivals QPR, Cardiff, Norwich and Nottingham Forest, who all won.
The first half saw Leeds look flat after their cup exploits in midweek and they could have been more than the one goal behind they were at the break. Joel Ward fired Pompey ahead with a shot from the edge of the box, but Greg Halford hit the crossbar with a header and John Utaka fluffed one chance and had another effort well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.
United hit back with a goal within two minutes of the start of the second half, top scorer Becchio firing home confidently after Robert Snodgrass’s free-kick was knocked back by Jonny Howson.
They fell behind again just after the hour mark when hesitant defending by Alex Bruce and Paul Connolly allowed Utaka to nip in and score. But substitute Somma struck with his first touch after being given a sight of goal by Becchio’s pass and the draw was preserved in the closing stages as the match was prolonged for about half-an-hour following two hold-ups for floodlight failure.
Manager Grayson praised United’s ability to bounce back.
He said: “We didn’t get going in the first half and allowed them too much time and space, but we stepped it up after the break with more tempo and some good opportunities.
“We knew we had to start passing the ball a lot better and the goal early in the second half gave us a real boost.
“My players didn’t let heir heads drop and in the end we got what we deserved. A draw was probably a fair result.”
(Ward 26, Utaka 61)
Leeds United 2
(Becchio 47, Somma 63)
Saturday, January 22, 2011
Portsmouth: Ashdown, De Laet (Rocha), Sonko, Halford, Dickinson, Lawrence, Mullins, Ward, Kanu, Nugent, Utaka.
Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly, Bruce, Bromby, McCartney, Snodgrass, Howson, Johnson, Watt (Somma 62), Gradel, Becchio.
Referee: A Taylor.