In front of over 6,000 travelling fans, Leeds threw away three points at Ewood Park on Saturday despite playing the better football and taking an early lead against an in-form Blackburn side.

A first half goal from Souleymane Doukara was cancelled out by another Marco Silverstri blunder reminiscent of his mix-up against Cardiff City before Luke Varney’s blatant dive won Blackburn a penalty which Jordan Rhodes converted to leave Leeds United feeling cheated.

But in truth and while Varney’s dive should have been easy enough to spot and punish for the referee, Leeds only have themselves to blame for the defeat.

Neil Redfearn’s side started the game well with some tidy movement and build-up play. Far from the negative approach we’ve taken to away fixtures under previous regimes, Leeds went into this one looking to play attacking football against opposition already a long way above us in the table and Leeds’ bravery paid off when Doukara bundled home the opening goal from an Adryan corner following a spell of Whites pressure.

Ahead at half-time and fully deserving of the lead, Leeds continued in the same manner in the second half but Blackburn managed to up their game a little too and for a time, the game went end-to-end. Leeds’ best chance to seal victory fell to Micro Antenucci as The Whites quickly countered a Blackburn attack and were unlucky to see the Italian’s shot bounce back off the woodwork.

While Blackburn had managed to create more than they did in the first half, Leeds looked comfortable and in control, the three points ours for the taking.

But as is so typically Leeds United, just when everything seems to be running smoothly, the utterly ridiculous happens. Marco Silverstri came out to make what should have been a very simple clearance while Cooper shielded Jordan Rhodes from the ball. Silverstri hesitated, presumably thinking Cooper was going to take the ball – which no defender ever would in such a situation – and after delaying the clearance, panicked and hit the ball against Cooper. The ball rebounded off Cooper into the path of Jordan Rhodes who tapped the ball into an open net. 1-1.

Leeds, who hadn’t been under any serious threat all day, were suddenly on the back-foot and having to withstand a bit of pressure, but it seemed fate was smiling down on us when Thorp Arch Academy graduate Tom Cairney, now playing for Blackburn Rovers, was given a second yellow card and dismissed for a clumsily-timed challenge.

With a man advantage and having played the better football all afternoon, the three points were still Leeds’ for the taking but when Gary Bowyer subbed on former Leeds United striker Luke Varney, we probably should have predicted the sucker punch which followed.

Being shielded from goal by Sam Byram, Varney takes the faintest of touches and goes down like he’s been shot in the foot. I’ve seen Varney go down very easily to win fouls for Leeds, but I can’t recall such a blatantly obvious dive winning us a game-deciding penalty. Aside from the referee, there can’t have been anyone in the ground who thought it was a foul. The force with which he threw himself to the floor didn’t match the movement of Byram or himself; that he’s created the momentum himself – by diving – doesn’t require video replays, it’s common-sense. Such simulation is incredibly easy to spot and referees inability to do so confounds me.

But as I said at the top, and without wishing to give the referee a pass for such a poor decision, we only have ourselves to blame. Blackburn didn’t win this game, Leeds lost it. Blackburn didn’t do enough to win it, they were second best all afternoon and had it not been for another Marco Silvestri entry for the Football Bloopers 2014 DVD, we’d have gone home celebrating an excellent display and a thoroughly deserved 3 points.

Instead, we’re left to dwell on individual errors and try to take the positives from what was otherwise a good away performance from Leeds.

The youngsters continue to play well, Sam Byram looks like his old self again, Adryan impressed, Doukara added to his respectable tally for the season so far and we’re playing some very good, passing football. We also pressured high up the pitch and defended as a team. Had we not ballsed it up and been sucker punched by Varney, we’d be celebrating the performance and a possible turning point of our fortunes.

And with that in mind, it’s important the team don’t get too hung up on this defeat and try to take the positives from their performance. We can’t allow an individual moment of madness and Varney’s cheating to completely overshadow the progress made, the players must keep the faith in their own abilities and this style of play because if Leeds can continue to perform like they did on Saturday while sharpening up small points of their game and cutting out individual errors, I genuinely believe we’ve got something special here.

On and on…

Neil Redfearn

“We deserved to win, that’s the bottom line. I didn’t think Blackburn deserved anything. They huffed and puffed a bit in the second half but I thought we dealt with it.

“The first goal, we gave them and the second has never been a penalty. It’s difficult for referees but those decisions, they have to get right. It should have been a free-kick to us and a yellow card for simulation.

“It’s just a poor decision. I’ve looked back at it, I saw it straight away and it looked like a dive. It’s not good for football really.”

  • Yorxman

    I’m not in the camp that says we were the better team, both sides were average. We seemed intent on passing the ball about in our own half & consequently end up giving the ball away & putting ourselves under to much pressure. We never seem to look to claim the vital 2nd goal. The only time we broke with pace in the 2nd half we hit the post, the rest of the time the build up play was far too methodical & slow. Desperately need an injection of pace on one wing or the other. Ben Marshall ran Byram ragged in the 1st half but we have nothing like that.

    • Tyler75

      Disagree about Marshall – Byram forced him inside more times than not and away from danger and Marshall couldn’t cope with Byram when he was running at him.Thought we were comfortable until the balls up, Blackburn didn’t offer much to worry Silvestri.

  • henrymouni

    Leeds were the better team, but our weakness in defence has been with us for a long time.
    A winger would be handy, but we must address our defence NOW.
    Cooper should have booted the ball into touch, as soon has he spotted our goalies mad dash!!
    Varney is a cheat, and feels no guilt about diving.
    The ref should have known this.
    It is part of his job to know who the cheats are.
    We are passing the ball well, but we must create more chances for our strikers.
    It will come.

    • TSS

      Cooper did what every defender should do – block Rhodes’ run. The second Silverstri made the decision to come and claim, he has to commit to it because at that point, Cooper’s only job is to keep Rhodes from the ball.

      Had Silvestri not charged out, then Cooper would have kicked it out for a throw, but the decision is made by Silverstri and a defender has to be able to trust his keeper in that situation.

      • henrymouni

        When Silvestri got to the ball he was surrounded by Cooper and Rhodes with nowhere to kick it.
        Cooper should have taken charge and kicked it out of play instead of trying to hold off Rhodes.
        He must have realised Silvestri had made a wrong decision & would be too late.
        It was a judgement call.

        • TSS

          It’s still Silvestri’s clearance to make and he hesitates when he reaches it, had he not done so, he could have kicked it out of play easily. Cooper does what’s expected of him there, Silvestri messes up.

          • henrymouni

            Would you have trusted Silvestri TSS?
            It is a big weakness in his game.

          • TSS

            I think you have to. It’d be just as easy to try and clear it and tangle with Silvestri in doing so, so someone has to not hit it and in that situation the defender holds the forward for the keeper to clear – you can watch almost any game and see the same situation and the defender will do exactly what Cooper did. It’s defending 101.

            You have to remember that the defender is blind too, the keeper can see up the pitch, the defender doesn’t know what’s coming behind him or to his side (where he’d be clearing it to). Silvestri does exactly what he should do in coming for the ball, but if you come, you commit 100%. Any hesitation leads to what happened. It’s just so very amateur. And so frustrating that it’s happened twice, but Silvestri has to learn because there’s going to be situations like this in almost every game.

  • rhodie110961

    Varney was tripped, the video shown in the article shows just that. Anyone looking at that video that does not see The defender ankle tap Varney, is deluded.

    • henrymouni

      Having watched Varney many times, he runs at the defender, dragging his right leg over the hapless defender’s leg then takes off.
      He VERY RARELY gets away with it.

    • TSS

      LOL. He’s trailing his leg and has already lunged himself before Byram gets near him.

    • Graham

      Better than Greg Louganis is Varney.

  • Tyler75

    Completely agree with all the above- Varney is a cheating bastard but Byram knows that and also knows he’s shit so should have kept his distance !

  • Mike

    I’m hoping Silvestri can clean up his decision making because we can dwell on Varney as much as we want but that mistake by Silvestri is what cost us the match imo. This game should’ve ended 1-0 or 2-0 no question about it.

    • TSS

      Yeah, sucked the wind out of our sails. Crazy moment. What’s most frustrating is Silverstri had been our best player until his recent blunders, he’s starting to lose us the points he won us earlier in the season.

  • Tim

    IMO Byram hangs a leg out AGAIN. Whether it’s a penalty or not you are inviting trouble when you do that. Both he and Silvestri have made the same mistakes twice now and they both need to learn fast.
    Having said that I still feel the best is yet to come. If we can get 10 or 11 points by Christmas it is still all to play for and the wheel will turn for us.

    • spellz

      I agree Tim, Byrams outstretched leg definitely can make the decision from the ref but even still its the officials job to get it right, quite frankly he didn’t, as a Leeds fan I do feel like luck does not go our way alot but I really feel like we was robbed in that game.

      • Tim

        I know the ref got it wrong but all Sam had to do was guide Varney out wide as he had the inside track. I came away frustrated and disappointed like everyone else. However, it’s different this season because for the first time in more than ten years we know we have a side capable of promotion and beyond and some team is going to get a real smacking soon. Take it from a reasonably wise old bugger – I feel the same now as I did in the sixties when Revie took over that something special was going to happen soon!!

    • Scally Lad

      Totally agree, Tim. We’re only ten points lag of a place in the top six. A good run before Christmas will set us up well for promotion.

  • spellz

    For all the arguments I can see about the penalty, for me it is plain and simple Byram would have timed his tackle well if it was not for Varneys superman dive which actually banged into Byram on his way down causing Byram to nearly lose his balance, if you cannot see that even as a neutral you are partially or completely blind.
    Just disgusted we come away from that game without even a point when for the majority if not the entirety of that game we looked like the home side, gutted.

  • Mike

    I may be in the minority here but I think Rudy needs to come on about 60-70 minutes almost every game. He injects energy into a game when he plays and that’s what we keep losing in the second half, i’d give Sharp a shout too as he loves to chase after lost causes. It’s almost like we take our foot off the gas after comfortably holding and playing around teams for two thirds of the game. I’m all about youth but we have to start closing out games and maybe those guys just aren’t prepared to do it yet because most of our losses haven’t begun until late.

    • Geck

      I think Rudy didn’t play because he played 4 games over the Int’l break

      • TSS

        Yeah, Rudy tends to struggle following international breaks so I didn’t expect him to feature. He’ll be back Saturday though I’m sure.

  • blues

    rubbish rovers where by far the better side in the second half and more than deserve at least the draw pure sour grapes live with it.

    • henrymouni

      We do!

    • TSS

      Deserved a draw? You created nothing of note. We gifted you the first goal and you cheated for the second. ‘Deserved’ isn’t the word I’d have gone with…

  • PMH

    Development. This is a time to worry about building the team and putting performances together, not about results. In the long run the breaks and bad ref decisions all even out, so let’s not obsess about that. This team is playing quite well, and the results will come eventually. I’ve also seen teams on a winning streak where the quality is going down, and a bad run is in the future. If this team had some easy wins, I’m not sure it would really help them. They should always expect a dogfight in the Championship.

    • henrymouni

      You have to admit that the quality of our football has improved 500%.
      No more hoof ball.