Daniel Farke pinpoints Leeds United error and addresses selection decision as youngster watches on
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The Birmingham City winger was the home side's chief threat for the most part thanks to his pace and it was his dart into the centre, away from Ayling, and a switch of play that led to the match-winning penalty.
Dembélé cut to the middle and fired a ball out to Ethan Laird that allowed the full-back to run in on Daniel James' blindside, the Welsh international taking out the runner and conceding the spot-kick.
Lukas Jutkiewicz fired home from the spot to settle the game and consign Farke to his first defeat as Leeds United manager.
Although the battle between Ayling and Dembélé was going in the latter's favour as the game progressed, Farke resisted the urge to replace his right-back with fit-again Cody Drameh, who had to watch from the bench as an unused substitute.
The youngster's lack of time back in training at Thorp Arch was in Farke's mind, although in any case he did not blame Ayling for the winner.
"Cody was sadly also out with an injury," said Farke.
"He was just with us during this week and this week was also tricky in terms of training because three games within six days. We know that Dembélé is a great player but if I'm honest if I judge the goal, it was not because of the quality of Dembélé. It wasn't like he was able to perfect assist or have a perfect one-against-one situation. It's always difficult to deal with them. I think the lads try their best. The situation with the goal was that unnecessary penalty and this is more my bigger concern if I judge the game today."
Farke rued the James intervention that presented Birmingham with a golden chance to win a game that looked likely to end goalless, viewing it as an attacker's challenge.
"It didn't look today that any side would score but yeah, in football, it's also about effectiveness and certainly we gave the referee a decision to make in injury time out of a situation where it was not even a chance for them when the outside of the box," he said.
"A bit naïve behaviour of an offensive player in our own box. It's certainly what happens quite often and this made the difference. So this situation we're not smart enough, a bit naïve to go into this duel and gave the referee a chance to make a decision and I think this was the difference."
Ayling has been Farke's number one choice at right-back, although Drameh's ability to challenge for the position has been hampered by a hamstring injury he picked up in pre-season. Now that he's fit again the youngster will hope to put pressure on the veteran defender.
Both of Farke's right-backs are into the final year of their respective deals at Elland Road. Drameh impressed in the Championship during loan spells with Cardiff City and Luton Town, with whom he earned promotion to the Premier League, but as of yet the Whites have not tabled a new contract.
Leeds did attempt to sign a third player for that position last week but a move for Norwich City's Max Aarons fell through when he plumped for Bournemouth instead. Sam Byram has returned to Elland Road as a free agent this summer and has switched to the left hand side of the defence, where he is currently battling with Leo Hjelde for the starting position.