Kyle Bartley leapt to the defence of goalkeeper Rob Green and admitted Leeds United had let their clash with Newcastle United “get away from us” after a 2-0 defeat at Elland Road.
Bartley deflected criticism of the first-half blunder by Green which gifted Newcastle the opening goal yesterday and bemoaned Leeds’ failure to make the most of a capacity crowd.
Green’s failure to gather a Jack Colback lob allowed Dwight Gayle to break the deadlock with 23 minutes played but centre-back Bartley was more annoyed by the move in which Ayoze Perez and Vurnon Anita cut through Leeds’ defence and laid on a second goal for Gayle on 55 minutes.
United went into the game with a seven-match unbeaten run at Elland Road behind them and Garry Monk’s players were backed by a crowd of 36,002, the highest at the stadium since 2011. The result, however, dropped Leeds to seventh in the Championship as Newcastle extended their advantage at the top of the table to five points.
Asked if Leeds had deserved more from the game, Bartley said: “I think we did but at the same time Newcastle showed us what it’s like to be in top spot. You’ve got to be clinical. In those important moments of a game you’ve got to take advantage.
“The crowd were fantastic with a full house and that’s why we’re disappointed. It was almost there for the taking and we kind of let it get away from us. There’s disappointment but it shows how far we’ve come that we came into this game fully prepared to get three points and thinking we would. We’re happy there’s only a six-day turnover to our next game and if we get three points against Rotherham, that’s four (wins) out of five. We’ll look at it as a good little spell.”
United head to Rotherham on Saturday to play a side who are bottom of the league and have already sacked one manager in Alan Stubbs, and Leeds head coach Garry Monk showed no sign of wavering confidence in Green despite the keeper’s error. The England international apologised on Twitter after full-time, saying: “Apologies for first goal. I didn’t want to carry it over the line. Dust ourselves down for a big game next week.”
Bartley said: “When you’re in defence or the goalkeeper, with any little mistake you’re going to get punished. Greeny has probably saved us nine to 12 points this season already and he’s been fantastic. It’s one of those you take on the chin and move on. He’s experienced enough to put it behind him.”
Newcastle’s second goal came after a through-ball from Perez found Anita running in behind Monk’s defence. His pass across goal gave Gayle room to slide a low shot past Green.
“That was a disappointing goal,” Bartley said. “Mistakes can happen but we’ve worked this week on their attacking play.
“When you play these top teams you’ve got to be switched on for the whole game.”