Two classy goals from Stuart Dallas fired Leeds United to a 2-1 win at Birmingham City last night – but head coach Steve Evans refused to accept that the club were finally safe from relegation.
Finishes from Dallas in either half at St Andrews – the second a superb volley from 20 yards – ended a run of four matches without a victory, extending United’s lead over the Championship’s bottom three to 14 points with five games to play.
The club look set to confirm their status for next season against Reading this Saturday but Evans said he would not be assured of Leeds’ survival until they were mathematically certain of remaining in the league.
“We’re not safe yet,” Evans said, “I’m not going to stand like a lemon in six weeks time and have people saying ‘you told us we were safe’. We can beat Reading on Saturday first, then I can enjoy a glass of wine. We’ve not had our rewards in recent weeks and I said to the players ‘we have to fight harder’. We know we should have won at Burnley (on Saturday) and but for a penalty for Queens Park Rangers in the 89th minute, we would have beaten them.
“In the first half Birmingham couldn’t live with us. I don’t think Burnley could on Saturday either. All the attacking offensive players caused real havoc and the only disappointing thing was that it was 1-0 at half-time, not more.”
Dallas’ goals put Leeds in firm control, 2-0 up after 50 minutes, but Clayton Donaldson replied three minutes later as Birmingham fought to avert a defeat which ended their chances of making the play-offs.
Evans said: “Stuart’s a wonderful talent. He’s capable of that. He’s got everything and more in the locker and he needs to have more confidence in his ability.”
The United boss, meanwhile, said he would look to appeal a red card shown to substitute Alex Mowatt by referee Chris Kavanagh seconds before the final whistle.
Mowatt was dismissed for a sliding tackle on Ryan Shotton and is facing a three-match ban. Kavanagh was criticised by both Evans and City manager Gary Rowett, who saw an effort from Donaldson ruled out for offside as United defended a 2-1 advantage.
Evans said: “Alex slid in but his left foot is on the floor. It’s a yellow card at best but in that period of the game, for both teams, the referee looked like he’d lost control.
“He’s an honest guy but he had a poor night. I’ll ask him to look at it.”