Garry Monk admitted his side had shot themselves in the foot after a first-half red card condemned Leeds United to a 2-0 defeat to Brighton.
United’s attempt to cut the gap to second place in the Championship to four points fell apart as Kalvin Phillips’ 24th-minute dismissal wrecked Monk’s plans and halted Leeds’ momentum. Phillips was sent off for handling the ball on the goalline and Glenn Murray converted the resulting penalty to give Brighton complete control of the game at The Amex.
A late spot-kick from Tomer Hemed, converted after Kyle Bartley was penalised for a pull on Lewis Dunk, sealed Brighton’s win as Chris Hughton’s side moved to the top of the league.
Monk said: “We never gave ourselves the opportunity to show our best or show what we’ve been doing. It’s disappointing, frustrating.
“We talked about the first 20 minutes and about how they always start very well. The plan was to come through that period and I thought we were getting to the point where we’d push on but we make mistakes, we have a sending off and that changes the complex of the game. It leads to a frustrating night.
“I didn’t feel there was anything they were going to kill us with had we kept 11 on the pitch. We caused our own mistakes, they scored the goals and they deserved the win. It’s just disappointing we didn’t do ourselves justice.”
Phillips is set to receive a one-match ban, adding to Monk’s selection worries and ruling him out of Tuesday’s clash with Reading, but United’s head coach refused to pin the blame to the midfielder who was exposed by Leeds’ failure to defend a corner at the far post.
“You’re the last man, you’re on the line, trying to put yourself in the way of the ball and it hits your arm,” Monk said. “He gets a red card and it changes everything.”
Annoyance showed in centre-back Pontus Jansson who pulled his shirt off and walked straight down the tunnel after being substituted in the closing minutes, apparently carrying an injury. But Monk said: “He was always coming off the pitch. That substitution was always going to happen.”