Late agony for Leeds
Leeds United came away from Carrow Road on Saturday empty handed despite a much improved performance against league leaders Norwich City.
The Whites made five changes from the side that were so dismal against Millwall on Monday.
Shane Higgs made his first start in goal since October and Jermaine Beckford and Neil Kilkenny also returned to the side.
New loan signings Neil Collins and Shane Lowry also went straight into the side as the club tried to bring to an end back to back defeats.
When the two clubs met at Elland Road earlier in the season the Norwich midfield outmuscled their Leeds counterparts but this time the Leeds midfield were closing and arraying the Norwich midfield and Doyle and Kilkenny were dominating in the centre of the park.
Leeds were passing the ball around really well and the overlapping Shane Lowry and Andy Hughes on each wing, were often finding plenty of room.
Beckford had Leeds first chance but his shot was blocked by the impressive Doherty and the ball went out for a corner.
Neil Kilkenny was next to shoot on goal but his effort from the edge of the area went over the bar.
Both sides were finding it hard to get a clear cut sight of goal, Grant Holt probably wasted the best chance close to half time when his shot from the edge of the area went well over when he was well placed and under no pressure.
The second half carried on where the first half had left off with the hard working Leeds midfield continuously frustrating Norwich.
When Hooloahan did find a bit of space he found Elliott on the edge of the area, his effort cleared the bar as the ball refused to drop nicely for him.
Doherty also missed a great chance when his header went wide following a Norwich corner.
Leeds were carving out no clear cut chances, Snodgrass saw a shot just go wide of the post as did Howson.
Grella worked himself a bit of space but his weak left foot shot was easy for Forster.
Such was Leeds dominance in midfield that Norwich boss Paul Lambert replaced the usually impressive Wes Hoolahan with 20 minutes remaining.
The tiring Neil Kilkenny was replaced inside the final five minutes by Bradley Johnson. Within minutes of coming on he failed to pick up Norwich substitute Stephen Hughes who was allowed to advance well into the Leeds half before delivering a cross that was met by fellow substitute Chris Martin, Martin managed to get in ahead of Neil Collins and glanced his header into the far corner.
It was a cruel blow for Leeds who had worked hard all afternoon and were once again going to come away with nothing.
Leeds brought on Tresor Kandol immediately hoping to grab an equaliser, but his afternoon was over within 20 seconds of coming on when he was shown a straight red for what was an alleged headbutt.
Kandol`s sending off was the third fastest in Football League history and also Leeds first red card of the season.
Leeds couldn`t create any chances in the final moments and you could see the disappointment on the players face at the final whistle.
The result was compounded at full time when the P.A announced that Millwall had won 5-0 to bring them level on points and now just one goal down on goal difference.
Simon Grayson is sure to take plenty of positives from the game and if the team can show the same level of commitment in the final eight games then Leeds will definitely still be very close to the second automatic promotion place come the final game of the season.
Along with Kilkenny, Doyle ran the midfield with his non stop running, tackling and passing. Won everything in the second half and his performance got the dredit it deserved when Norwich replaced their influential midfielder Wes Hoolahan with 20 minutes remaining.
Shane Higgs 6
Nice to see a Leeds keeper actually coming out and taking the ball and controlling his back four.
Only bad point was a few of his kicks were very poor.
Andy Hughes 6 (replaced 90)
Richard Naylor 7
Neil Collins 7
Only bad point was allowing Martin to get across him for the all important goal.
Shane Lowry 7
Only bad point was his crossing, on two or three occasions he found himself in a good position to put in a telling cross but failed to get close to a team mate with any of them.
Jon Howson 7
Neil Kilkenny 7 (replaced 85 minutes)
Mike Doyle 8 Star man
Luciano Becchio 5 (replaced 14 minutes)
Jermaine Beckford 3
In his defence, the balls into him were always in the air and he was never going to win a ball. What he needed was balls into the channel and behind Doherty as he as the legs to beat him all afternoon.
Robert Snodgrass 7
Was another who was instrumental in the Leeds midfield but was unable to get in a telling cross.
Was unlucky when his shot flashed across the face of goal.
Mike Grella 6 (replaced Becchio 14)
Bradley Johnson(replaced Kilkenny 85) 3
Never really threatened in an attacking sense and looks a shadow of the player that was mr consistent in the first three months of the season.
Tresor Kandol (replaced Hughes 90)
People have been saying he`s lost the dressing room but on this performance that is not evident. The players (apart from one) worked their socks off for him all afternoon.
If Leeds can take this performance into the last eight games of the season then we will clinch the final automatic place.
Felt the game was crying out for either Dickov or Kandol with 20 minutes remaining just to unsettle the Norwich defence as we lacked any punch up front (until Kandol came on!).
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