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.”