Leeds United captain Liam Bridcutt held his hands up to a “bad day at the office” and admitted a rare defeat was “probably on the cards” after a 3-2 loss at Barnsley.
Barnsley got the better of a breathless Yorkshire derby on Saturday to inflict Leeds’ ninth defeat of the season and bring the Elland Road club down from a rampaging win over Derby County eight days earlier. Three goals in nine minutes either side of half-time, including a fine free-kick from captain Conor Hourihane, gave Barnsley victory after United allowed an early advantage given to them by top scorer Chris Wood to slip away.
A second-half penalty from Wood, reducing Barnsley’s lead to 3-2 with 22 minutes remaining, failed to set United up for an equaliser, leaving the club nine points back from the Championship’s top two and cutting their advantage over seventh-placed Derby to five.
Speaking after a match which was overshadowed in the first half by crowd trouble at Oakwell, a philosophical Bridcutt said: “It was just a bad day at the office for us all. We conceded three goals which is very rare for us and we switched off at set-plays.
“But a game like this was probably on the cards. You can’t win every game, it’s impossible to do. We set out to win every game but this wasn’t our night and we know that. We know we’re going to have down days and I think this was our down day. Derby was probably one of our best games of the season so far, one of the best performances we’ve seen from Leeds in a number of years now.
“To come off the back of that and lose is disappointing but credit to Barnsley. The did what they set out to do and upset us. We’re going to pick ourselves up now and go again.”
Leeds have a quick chance to recover from Saturday’s performance with a home game against Nottingham Forest on Wednesday, a match rearranged at short notice to accommodate Sunday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Sutton United.
“The only positive we can take from this is that we have a game on Wednesday and we look forward to that,” Bridcutt said.
“We’ve proven from the start of the season that we’re a team who are growing in character and quality. As the manager said to us, we pick ourselves up and we go again. We are not going to dwell on this.”
Wood’s opening goal, scored on 18 minutes, sparked trouble in different sections of Barnsley’s stadium, much of it involving Leeds supporters sitting in home areas of Oakwell.
Leeds, who sold their allocation of 5,500 away tickets in just 35 minutes, have made no comment on the disturbances but the club’s chief executive, Ben Mansford, and safety officer Sue Kilroy are understood to have raised objections when Sky Sports announced its intention to move the match to a 5.30pm kick-off for a live broadcast.
Head coach Garry Monk, meanwhile, refused to be too critical of his players in the wake of a rare defeat.
“There are so many games and you can see how competitive every game is,” Monk said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re bottom of the league or top of the league. It’s very hard to be at your peak in every game because physically it’s demanding. We were slightly off the level we’re normally at.”