NEIL REDFEARN saluted Leeds United’s battling qualities in today’s hard-fought 1-1 draw at Bolton Wanderers - with several bold selection calls paying off for the Whites head coach.
Redfearn, who gave rare league starts to Steve Morison, Luke Murphy and Casper Sloth, saw his side turn in an encouraging performance, on a day in which top-scorer Mirco Antenucci was relegated to the bench and was an unused substitute.
Leeds took the lead just three minutes in when Rudy Austin fired home from the spot after ex-Whites custodian Andy Lonergan was penalised for a foul on Sam Byram, who operated in an advanced role on the right and turned in an impressive display.
Bolton earned a share of the spoils when Eidur Gudjohnsen struck his first goal for Bolton on home soil since May 2000, with the veteran confidently finishing from the spot after Murphy brought down Darren Pratley.
Redfearn felt the award for Bolton was a little soft and also believed that Liam Trotter could have been sent off for several dubious challenges, which merited just a yellow card and that on another day, Lonergan could have received his marching orders for bringing down Byram.
But in terms of United’s overall performance, Redfearn was wholly satisfied and felt it was a significant step in the right direction and built on the second-half display at the Stadium of Light last weekend.
Testament to Leeds’ commitment was seen in the dressing room with a couple of players sporting black eyes and carrying a few bumps and bruises following a whole-hearted performance in a hard-fought Roses battle in which the visitors didn’t flinch and gave their near 4,000-strong travelling army something tangible to take home for once.
He said: “It was a battling performance in the second half at Sunderland and today we scrapped for ninety minutes. That is important.
“We have said right the off we have got to get the performances right. Get the performances right and we get the results.
“We had a good performance today and showed a lot of character. We aren’t always going to ‘football’ teams to death - this division says you have got to compete and play this division.
“But I thought when we got the chance to play, we played. But I also thought we showed more resolve.”
On the performance of Morison, handed just his third Championship start this term in what amounted to a bold selection call, Redfearn said: “I thought big Stevie led the line well and what he does in this system is be a targetman and a good man to go to.
“We can’t rule anybody out of the squad and we are in a position where we have to look at everyone.
“He (Morison) is a good player and he’s got great assets. He led the line well today.
And offering his view on Lonergan not being dismissed and Trotter staying on the pitch, he added: “It was black and white with the penalty and Trotter continually offended and he had a tackle before he got a yellow card, which for me was even more of a yellow card.
“I thought he was lucky to stay on the pitch and they could have been down to nine men easily.
“I felt their penalty was a bit soft from our point of view when we had done so well and been so diligent and so thorough defending. To concede a penalty like that; I am not sure it was a penalty if I am honest.”