Manager Simon Grayson admitted the sending off of Ipswich Town goalkeeper Alex McCarthy on his return to Elland Road changed the game as Leeds United came from a goal behind to win 3-1.
The Tractor Boys led through Andy Drury’s soft 34th-minute goal but McCarthy, who played six games on loan for the Whitesfrom Reading earlier in the season, was shown the red card in the 71st minute when he raced outside his area and handled Ibrahima Sonko’s headed back-pass.
Arran Lee-Barrett took over in goal, and three minutes after leaving the bench he was beaten by Robert Snodgrass after Ross McCormack’s shot was played into the Scot’s path by Sonko.
McCormack then took advantage when Lee-Barrett was slow to come for Adam Clayton’s through-ball, rounding the substitute keeper and walking the ball into the net, with substitute Luciano Becchio adding Leeds’ third in stoppage time when he slotted home from a narrow angle after latching onto a long ball.
Grayson said: “We were poor in the first half - there is no getting away from that.
“We went behind to a soft goal but the sending-off changed the game. You could sense the anxiety of our players until our first goal went in.
“They were a different animal after that and showed their character.
“Players are not robots. They make mistakes at times, as we saw today. We managers are all under pressure at times because it is a ruthless industry but you keep faith in your ability.”
Ipswich had the better of a tame first half but it was Leeds keeper Andy Lonergan’s 34th-minute blunder that gifted Jewell’s men the lead. Drury took a short corner to Lee Martin on the left and, after accepting a return pass, tried a speculative angled shot which somehow passed through Lonergan’s hands into the net.
The blustery conditions did nothing to enhance the game’s quality for a largely subdued crowd whose silence was regularly broken by calls for chairman Ken Bates’ departure.
Grayson made a double substitution on the hour, Aidan White and Becchio replacing Andros Townsend and Mikael Forssell, but with Fabian Delph playing a deep midfield role on his return to the club from Aston Villa, goalscoring opportunities were few and far between until McCarthy’s dismissal.
McCarthy earned a rebuke from manager Paul Jewell.
Jewell said: “It was poor decision-making between McCarthy and Sonko that led to the sending-off and Leeds didn’t have to work hard for their goals.
“It was just a catalogue of errors. We controlled the game until our keeper was sent off. Everyone makes mistakes but the mistakes we made today were glaring errors you don’t expect to see at Championship level.
“We restricted Leeds to very few chances.”