LEEDS United were denied victory at Craven Cottage in heart-breaking circumstances as a Tom Cairney wonder-strike in the fifth minute of injury time bagged Championship hosts Fulham a 1-1 draw.
A Leeds side missing top scorer Chris Wood were handed a total gift by Fulham in the fifth minute when a long free-kick by Kyle Bartley was sliced by Tim Ream into his own net for a comical own goal.
Fulham were then wrongly denied a first-half equaliser when Neeskens Kebano’s rocket hit the crossbar and bounced over the line but was not given.
But after Kalvin Phillips was sent off in the 89th minute after picking up a second yellow card, the Cottagers broke United’s hearts in the fifth minute of injury time when Cairney curled home a stunning shot into the top left corner to grab the Cottagers a draw.
Leeds were dealt a double blow in the hours leading up to the game when news emerged that top scorer Chris Wood and continually impressive right back Luke Ayling would both be missing.
Neither player travelled to London with Wood rumoured to have a calf injury and Ayling’s wife having given birth to the couple’s new baby girl.
With Eunan O’Kane also missing, head coach Garry Monk made five changes to the side that won 3-1 at Birmingham City, with at least two of those changes enforced.
But Leeds were handed the perfect boost after just five minutes when the Whites took an early lead through Ream’s comical own goal.
A free-kick taken by Whites centre back Kyle Bartley was pumped forward to Souleymane Doukara in the penalty area and while Ream got to the ball first, the Fulham defender’s attempted clearance turned into a horrible slice that sent the ball backwards and spinning past a helpless David Button.
Fulham’s response was limited but
the Cottagers then went mightily close twice within two minutes mid-way through the first half.
First a Stefan Johansen free-kick was passed to Tom Cairney who unleashed a fine curling effort from the edge of the area and that fizzed inches wide of Rob Green’s left hand post.
And Fulham then went even closer one minute later when a long-range effort from Kebano beat Green all ends up but smashed the crossbar before dropping over the line and bouncing clear.
Fulham were screaming at the officials that the ball had crossed the line but Leeds, wrongly, survived.
And while Fulham continued to dominate, Leeds then had a fine opportunity to double their lead in the 38th minute when Alfonso Pedraza was played in from the left hand side and produced a fierce low shot that was well kept out by Button.
The theme of Cottagers dominance then continued in the second half though United’s returning Charlie Taylor produced a decent run before firing wide for Leeds.
Neeskens Kebano then fired into the side netting for Fulham but it was not entirely one-way traffic and a long-range shot from Kemar Roofe was well held by Button.
And Leeds should have been out of sight in the 73rd minute when a loose ball fell to Pedraza ten yards out but the Spaniard’s low effort hit the left hand post.
But Leeds then had to withstand a final 15 minutes of Fulham dominance with substitute Scott Parker squandering two decent chances, either side of a narrow escape when Green tipped a Johansen free-kick just wide.
Kalvin Phillips was then sent off in the 89th minute after picking up a second yellow card.
Gohi Cyriac and Aluko then came within inches of equalising in injury time but Leeds looked to have survived as the clock reached the fifth and final minute of added time.
But Cairney had other ideas and from one final attack the midfielder produced an absolute gem of a curling shot that dipped over Green who had no chance as the ball sailed into the top corner.
Leeds United: Green, Berardi, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Bridcutt, Phillips, Sacko (Barrow 60), Roofe (Vieira 87), Pedraza, Doukara. Subs not used: Silvestri, Cooper, Hernandez, Dallas, Antonsson.
Fulham: Button, Fredericks, Kalas, Ream, Malone (Sessegnon 61), Johansen, McDonald (Parker 74), Aluko, Cairney, Kebano, Martin (Cyriac 74). Subs not used: Bettinelli, Odoi, Madl, Sigurdsson.
Referee: Lee Probert.