Steve Evans refused to concede defeat in the battle for the play-offs but said Leeds United were facing a must-win game at Sheffield Wednesday on Saturday after a last-gasp defeat to Ipswich Town last night.
United’s eight-match unbeaten run ended at Portman Road as Ipswich fought back from a Souleymane Doukara goal on 13 seconds – the second-fastest goal in United’s history – to snatch a 2-1 victory with a Luke Chambers header and an injury-time strike from Brett Pitman.
Pitman came off the bench to score at the very end of a second half which Ipswich controlled and a frustrating result pushed Leeds 12 points adrift of the Championship’s top six ahead of a televised Yorkshire derby at Hillsborough this weekend.
Head coach Evans voiced disappointment with a weak performance, saying Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich were “as bad in spells as we were”, but defiantly insisted that a win in Sheffield could keep Leeds’ season alive.
Evans, who had to be ushered down the tunnel by stewards as he tried to confront referee Fred Graham at full-time, said: “We need to win on Saturday.
“I said before this game that if we don’t take anything away from here then we need to go and win at Hillsborough and we’ll be trying to go win there.
“We’ve enjoyed the run we were on and now we need to go on another one.
“We’re not giving up because if we win on Saturday and Ipswich don’t win then it’s a different ball-game again.
“Our season’s alive. When I came in there was the fear of going down and that’s not the case now.
“I’m not saying we played well but if we’d got a point tonight then people would have said it was a good point – and they wouldn’t be saying we’re out of it.
“Ipswich were as bad in spells as we were but if you switch off then you get punished.
“Our quality was poor and it’s very evident that we need better players.
“But if the benchmark to get in the play-offs is Ipswich Town then three players could change us.
“With three quality players we’d come here and deal with it quite comfortably. That’s no disrespect, they work so hard for their manager, but if that’s the benchmark then we’ll take that benchmark.”