LEEDS UNITED failed to see out an imminent-looking victory against Wigan Athletic whose Shaun MacDonald slammed home a 91st-minute equaliser to seal a 1-1 Championship draw at Elland Road.
United looked to be moving back into the Championship’s top half and within one point of the play-offs after Chris Wood’s eighth goal of the season gave the Whites a 29th-minute lead.
But Leeds failed to put a plucky Wigan side to bed and paid the price in the first minute of injury time when MacDonald smashed the ball home from a right flank corner.
The draw leaves United 13th and three points off the play-offs ahead of Saturday’s trip to 15th-placed Wolverhampton Wanderers.
Whites head coach Garry Monk made one change to the side beaten 1-0 at Derby County on Saturday as Kemar Roofe replaced the benched Alex Mowatt on the left wing.
Amid a quiet start, Wigan had the game’s first attempt but Nick Powell’s sixth-minute strike from the edge of the area sailed harmlessly wide.
United did not threaten until the 13th minute when Charlie Taylor and Pablo Hernandez combined well on the left flank but Hernandez failed to get a full connection to the left back’s cross and sliced a volley wide.
A lovely reverse pass from Hernandez then played in Hadi Sacko in the 22nd minute but the winger has kept out by a sliding tackle which forced a corner.
It was from that corner that Wood’s curling effort from range was then saved by Adam Bogdan.
But Wigan were then presented with the game’s best chance yet after 27 minutes when the bright Michael Jacobs found space inside United’s area but could only produce a weak curling shot that was easily dealt with by Green.
Yet after just another three minutes United took the lead and through a stunning finish from Wood which gave Bogdan no hope whatsoever.
Sacko was released down the right wing and his heavy touch looked to have ended any danger but Dan Burn’s awful defending gave him a second bite of the cherry.
The winger produced a deep cross to the far post and Wood confidently chested the ball down to the ground before unleashing a rasping drive into the bottom right hand corner for his eighth goal of the campaign.
Wigan were suddenly struggling and just seconds after the restart, Roofe earned Leeds a free-kick on the edge of the area from which Hernandez saw his effort blocked.
Roofe then fed Wood who got his feet in a tangle, ending any danger, before Sacko’s effort was deflected wide.
Leeds were suddenly dominating but Wigan then came roaring back towards the end of the first half and Jacobs squandered a sitter when hitting the post from inside the area after Will Grigg’s lay-off.
A Grigg effort was then deflected wide for a corner and from that corner Leeds twice cleared the ball off the line, first through ‘keeper Rob Green and then through Pontus Jansson as efforts from Nick Powell and Jake Buxton were somehow kept at bay.
Wigan continued to attack until the end of the one sole minute of first half injury time but the Latics then took off the lively Jacobs - presumably through injury - during the half time break.
Leeds then began the second period brightly with Sacko skipping clear down the right hand side but seeing his 50th-minute deflected wide for a corner, from which Jansson bundled an effort over the bar with his knee.
Wigan were then presented with a half chance three minutes later when Roofe fouled Nathan Byrne on the edge of the box but Byrne’s free-kick was headed miles over by Buxton.
But Leeds were soon back on the attack in search of a killer second with Luke Ayling’s low drive tipped around the post by Bogdan for a corner which was met by Jansson and headed off the line by Buxton.
Wigan boss Gary Caldwell then used his last two substitutions in withdrawing Byrne and Buxton for Jordi Gomez and Craig Morgan just after the hour. Monk then made his first change in taking off Sacko for Grimes on 66 minutes.
Amidst the changes, Wigan were enjoying a decent spell of possession and hovering around United’s area.
But Leeds then went desperately close to bagging a second goal with 18 minutes left when Wood showed great movement to connect with Ayling’s deep cross and produce a fine header that was destined for the top corner and clawed away by an outstretched Bogdan.
Monk then took off Hernandez for Mowatt one minute later and Wigan refused to go away, with Grigg messing up a headed opportunity with 15 minutes left.
At the other end, Taylor’s low cross caused bedlam in the Wigan box before the Latics desperately cleared.
But Wigan continued to pester Leeds and Max Power twice threatened, first when lobbing an effort just over the bar and then when mishiting a shot from outside the box.
Leeds had six minutes to last out and Monk then made his final change in taking off the excellent Wood for Marcus Antonsson.
Wigan continued to pour forward and hearts were in mouths when Wildschut’s right wing cross zipped across the area and found Power who failed to put his header goalwards.
Leeds were continuing to live dangerously and Wigan were given four minutes of injury time to salvage an equaliser.
And that’s exactly what arrived in the first added minute when a right-flank corner was headed back across goal by Power to Shaun MacDonald who guided the ball home via the post and in.
The equaliser had United’s fans raging - just when the club were about to move within one point off the play-offs.
And while United attempted to pull victory out of the fire, the damage was done as Leeds had to settle for a 1-1 draw in which they could have been home and hosed.
Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Bartley (c), Jansson, Taylor, Phillips, O’Kane, Hernandez (Mowatt 73), Roofe, Sacko (Grimes 66), Wood (Antonsson 85). Subs not used: Silvestri, Coyle, Cooper, Vieira.
Wigan Athletic: Bogdan, Byrne (Gomez 62), Buxton (Morgan 62), Burn, Warnock (c), MacDonald, Perkins, Power, Powell, Jacobs (Wildschut 45), Grigg. Subs not used: Jaaskelainen, Garbutt, Davies, Le Fondre.
Referee: Peter Bankes.
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