Leeds United 1, Bolton Wanderers 0
Luciano Becchio’s sixth penalty of the season settled a match best forgotten today as Leeds United overcame a virus to defeat Bolton 1-0 at Elland Road and move to within two points of the play-offs.
Manager Neil Warnock lost Jerome Thomas and Luke Varney to illness last night and revealed that Paul Green, Ross McCormack and keeper Paddy Kenny all defied the virus to play.
Warnock expressed pride in his side’s character as they moved up to eighth in the npower Championship.
“In the circumstances I can’t be any prouder of the lads or praise them enough for the effort they put in,” said Warnock.
“It wasn’t a classic but it was all about desire. We were a bit nervous in the first half.
“When you get the drubbing we did at Hull it knocks the stuffing out of you but we grafted here and the best move of the match led to the penalty.
“On paper, Bolton have a far better team than us but you don’t win matches on paper.”
Bolton boss Dougie Freedman felt his side should have had a penalty for a foul on substitute David Ngog but Warnock countered: “It was a blatant attempt to win a penalty out of nothing. It was clutching at straws.”
Freedman added: “The referees and their assistants are part-time, so it is not their fault. They don’t train all week and they don’t get help. They don’t get coached or mentored.
“There should be a more professional approach bec-ause there is so much at stake.
“It was a game we should have won because we created most of the chances. Our game-plan is working but our defence is letting us down and that is what happened here.
"We looked in control for most of the match but Leeds never gave up and I am sure their manager is very happy with the win.”
Over 22,000 spectators witnessed a contest lacking creativity and skill, with the ball spending an eternity in the air and neither side able to keep possession on an uneven pitch.
Leeds lacked sufficient width to test full backs Tyrone Mears and Marcos Alonso, while Bolton’s finishing was weak, Ngog squandering their best chance from six yards.
Visiting winger Chris Eagles provided the only first-half highlights with a low shot which shaved the far post and a 30-yard drive clawed aside by the diving Kenny.
Becchio’s opportunity to collect his 18th goal of the campaign arrived in the 65th minute when Rodolph Austin made a run and McCormack’s neat turn prompted Mears to bring him down just inside the box.
Referee Philip Gibbs immediately pointed to the spot and Becchio blasted the ball to Adam Bogdan’s right to seal it.