Leeds United 1 Bristol City 0: Doukara gets Whites back to winning ways
LEEDS United returned to winning ways as Souleymane Doukara's third goal in four games sealed a 1-0 victory against Championship strugglers Bristol City at Elland Road.
United were awful in the first half and booed off by their fans but the Whites improved after the interval with Doukara coolly slotting home a 59th-minute winner.
The triumph halted a five-game winless streak in the Championship with Leeds now 16th and 11 points off both the play-offs and dropzone.
Whites head coach Steve Evans named the same XI that started at Sheffield Wednesday with Doukara again playing the lone striker role.
Chris Wood returned to the squad from his hamstring injury but only made the bench while Alex Mowatt missed out altogether with injury.
Toumani Diagouraga’s move from Brentford has also yet to be completed meaning no place for the new Whites central midfielder.
The first ten minutes passed almost without incident apart from a very late challenge by City’s Nathan Baker on Luke Murphy which warranted a booking that was not given.
Leeds wasted the free-kick which was taken by Liam Bridcutt and it was Baker who then had half a chance at the other end but his header went wide.
After Stuart Dallas was tackled, City then attacked down the right flank but Joe Bryan’s low cross was held by Marco Silvestri.
And it was United’s Charlie Taylor who then picked up the game’s first caution for pulling back Joe Bryan on the right wing.
The City free-kick came to nothing, after which United were awarded a free-kick of their own 25 yards out for a foul on Murphy but Mustapha Carayol’s effort resembled a Leeds Rhinos conversion.
At the other end, two City corners were punched clear by Silvestri, after which Baker entered the book for taking down Carayol.
The Robins then attacked the United area with worrying ease but Ben Gladwin’s low effort was just about held by Silvestri, after which Jonathan Kodjia was booked for taking out Giuseppe Bellusci.
In truth, there was very little to shout about and Leeds looked to have little imagination when having a decent spell of possession outside the City area on the half hour mark as the move ended with a Charlie Taylor cross going into the crowd.
And it was City who almost snatched a 34th-minute lead when Kodija’s header went narrowly wide with Silvestri beaten.
Two minutes later the Robins went close again when Bryan’s cross found Kodjia whose volley narrowly evaded the left hand post, prompting a few boos from the Leeds faithful.
Kodjia then showed great skill and quick feet to win a free-kick just inside the Leeds half, after which the striker ended up evading three United tackles before his low shot was kept out by Silvestri.
Bellusci was booked for his desperate efforts to take out the striker as he homed in on goal but the subsequent corner was cleared.
United at least ended the half on the attack as Bridcutt covered 20 yards before releasing Dallas whose cross was hacked away for a corner.
But that corner came to nothing it was City who countered in the second minute of injury time, again looking dangerous.
It came as no surprise when the half-time whistle was greeted by a chorus of boos from the Whites faithful, and chants of “what the f***ing hell was that” from the South Stand.
The visitors brought on Alex Pearce for Baker during the half-time interval and the second period initially began like the first, dull.
A right flank Bellusci cross threatened danger but Doukara could not get enough power on his header and his effort flashed across goal.
The United faithful were then given hope when Evans brought on Chris Wood as a 54th-minute substitute with Carayol the man withdrawn.
The change made little immediate difference but almost from nothing United then took a 59th-minute lead.
City’s Luke Ayling dallied with the ball at the back and his clearance fell straight to Dallas who raced clear on the right flank.
The winger’s cross initially fell to Wood with the goal gaping but the ball deflected off the striker to Doukara who calmly slotted the ball inside the left hand post.
A delighted Doukara raced away to the United bench to hug captain Sol Bamba in celebration at his third goal in four games.
City reacted by bringing on Bobby Reid for Gladwin and went close to levelling on 62 minutes when Pearce headed just over from a corner.
But Leeds were soon back on the attack with Dallas’ low delivery towards an unmarked Wood just cleared as United threatened a second goal.
Kodjia continued to impress at the other end and showed more trickery as the visitors attacked but a potentially dangerous move ended with the ball in the hands of Silvestri.
But Leeds looked in little danger of squandering their lead though Kodjia chose the wrong option with 14 minutes left when he could have squared the ball to Reid as part of a promising attack.
City then made their final change in bringing on Aaron Wilbraham for Marlon Pack and the result was not yet a foregone conclusion with a reminder of the fragility of United’s lead served in the 79th minute.
Luke Freeman’s left wing cross found Aiden Flint unmarked six yards out and his header looked to be going in but instead just evaded the right hand post.
You sensed that was City’s real chance to level but the visitors then had another opportunity five minutes later, again through Flint, who turned United’s defence before firing in a weak low shot that was easily saved by Silvestri.
Evans then withdrew his goal-scorer Doukara who left the field to a big applause as Mirco Antenucci was brought on with four minutes left.
There was then more panic at the Leeds end as Silvestri almost spilled Bryan’s cross but just managed to recover before Kodjia could tap home.
Antenucci was then booked within minutes of joining the fray for handbags with Ayling, after which Evans made his final change by bringing off Murphy for Adeyemi.
United then had four minutes of injury time to survive during which City launched balls into the Leeds area but decent deeds from Bellusci and Silvestri saved the day.
And in the end it was Leeds who finished the game on the attack as Dallas won a late corner which was followed by the full-time whistle.
A first half to forget but a big result for Leeds who returned to winning ways.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas, Bridcutt, Murphy (Adeyemi 90), Cook, Carayol (Wood 54), Doukara (Antenucci 86). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bamba, Phillips.
Bristol City: O’Donnell, Ayling, Flint, Baker (Pearce 45), Bryan, Burns, Gladwin (Reid 61), Pack (Wilbraham 77), Smith, Freeman, Kodjia. Subs not used: O’Leary, Little, Wagstaff, Agard.
Referee: Charles Breakspear.
Attendance: 20,441 (641 Bristol City).