Garry Monk blamed an “honest” Rob Green mistake and a controversial penalty decision for a 2-0 defeat to Newcastle United but insisted the result would not affect the impetus of Leeds United’s season.
United’s head coach was frustrated by the refusal of referee Graham Scott to award a spot-kick in the passage of play between two goals from Dwight Gayle which extended Newcastle’s lead at the top of the Championship yesterday.
Newcastle were 1-0 up towards the end of the first half when midfielder Jack Colback blocked a cross from Ronaldo Vieira with his elbow.
Scott dismissed fervent appeals from Monk’s players, yellow-carding centre-back Pontus Jansson for dissent and ruling him out of Saturday’s game at Rotherham United in the process.
Jansson will serve a one-match ban at the New York Stadium having amassed five bookings.
Gayle, who took advantage of an error by Green on 23 minutes, struck again 10 minutes into the second half, ending the contest and deflating Elland Road’s first capacity attendance for almost six years.
More than 36,000 attended yesterday match, the highest crowd seen since an FA Cup clash with Arsenal in January 2011.
“Today’s game was decided on critical moments,” Monk said. “Our commitment was very good but we fell on the wrong side of those moments. Had we not we probably would have got a result.
“I’ve had many penalties given against me and my teams for much less than that. It was clear-cut in my eyes. Your hands are raised, you’re half turning your back. There’s no need for an explanation (from the referee). It’s clear cut but he didn’t give it.
“We obviously made a mistake for the first goal and that made it difficult but we reacted really well. For the last 15 minutes of the first half we were on top of them and had a goal gone in it would have changed the context of the game.
“We just needed that goal. But in terms of competing and attitude, you can see there wasn’t a gulf of difference.”
Green has been Monk’s first-choice keeper throughout the season, preferred to Marco Silvestri in all but a handful of League Cup ties, but his mistake – a fumble from Colback’s lob which gave Gayle a tap-in from a yard – allowed Newcastle to make the most of a strong start.
“It’s an honest mistake, a genuine mistake,” Monk said. “Rob like all of us will be disappointed but we did enough to score today.”
Leeds dropped to seventh in the Championship at full-time having made the top six for the first time in almost three years with a 3-2 win at Norwich City before the international break.
Monk said he had no fear of any despondency spreading on the back of a single result.
“It can feel like that because we’ve set a high standard and high expectations,” he said. “We came here in a positive mindframe to give the fans something to go home with but I don’t think we can be too critical of the way we are.
“We were playing a very good side. Their second goal was the one moment where you really saw their quality. From their point of view, it’s a quality goal. I’m disappointed with the result but I can’t complain about my players.”