A SECOND late penalty in the space of four days denied Leeds United victory in Tuesday night’s 1-1 draw with Championship visitors Queens Park Rangers.
After a non-event of a first half, Leeds improved after the interval and Chris Wood slid home Luke Murphy’s fine 70th-minute delivery for his first goal since December.
But for the second game in succession, a defensive error from Giuseppe Bellusci cost United dear as his late challenge on Sebastian Polter gifted QPR a spot kick which top scorer Tjaronn Chery blasted into the top corner.
Leeds were then denied a dramatic injury time winner by a stunning save from Alex Smithies to keep out substitute Lewie Coyle in injury time.
Whites head coach Steve Evans wielded the axe after Saturday’s 2-1 loss at Rotherham United by making four changes though at least one of those was enforced.
Nineteen-year-old goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell made his debut in goal with Marco Silvestri serving a one-match ban but Bellusci kept his place at centre-back in spite of his last minute horlicks at Rotherham.
Club captain Sol Bamba instead dropped to the bench with the club saying he was suffering from ilness with Liam Cooper taking his place.
And despite looking United’s most dangerous threat at Rotherham, Mirco Antenucci dropped to the bench along with Alex Mowattt and Toumani Diagouraga as Mustapha Carayol, Stuart Dallas and Luke Murphy all came into the side as part of a 4-3-3 or 4-5-1.
After an impeccably observed minutes silence in the 16 year anniversary of Istanbul victims Chris Loftus and Kevin Speight, Leeds began reasonably brightly with Dallas and Carayol causing early problems.
Hoops ‘keeper Alex Smithies showed quick feet to get across and snuff out ninth-minute Dallas effort that was heading for the top corner.
But after earlier nervy defending from Bellusci and then Gaetano Berardi, Liam Cooper was required to make an excellent tackle in the area on Jamie Mackie to prevent a clear goal-scoring opportunity.
The Hoops then lost Mackie who went down injured after 20 minutes and was eventually replaced by Sebastian Polter but chances for both sides continued to be at a premium.
Carayol made a bright run down the left flank but his effort was easily saved as the clock reached half an hour.
At the other end, Matt Phillips blasted well wide before Leeds failed to make the most of a four-on-three counter attack when a Lewis Cook back heel failed to pick out Dallas.
At the other end, QPR’s Junior Hoilett bent a shot over the bar from just inside the area before forcing a low save from Peacock-Farrell moments later.
And that was basically that as far as a dull first half was concerned with a low Massimo Luongo pea-roller that Peacock-Farrell easily smothered perfectly summing up the first 45 minutes.
There were no changes before the start of the second half which began with a Dallas volley being deflected wide.
Leeds then produced a lovely move through Wood and Cook which gave Murphy a chance 18 yards out but his low effort was saved.
A similarly decent move then ended with Carayol pulling the ball back for Dallas whose effort went high and wide to the gasps of the crowd.
At the other end, Berardi made an important tackle to block a dangerous Hoilett effort at the far post.
An unspectacular game was there be won and with 20 minutes left United made the breakthrough when Murphy’s lovely flighted left flank cross was stabbed home by a sliding Wood.
QPR boss Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink reacted by bringing on top scorer Tjaronn Chery for Hoilett but the switch failed to have the desired effect.
Instead, at the other end, only a desperate hacked clearance prevented Wood tapping home a second after a fine delivery from Carayol.
United looked to be relatively cruising to victory but with just four minutes left United conceded their second late penalty in two games and again Bellusci was the culprit.
Polter raced into the United box but was only heading towards the byline when Bellusci’s late challenge sent the front man hurling with referee James Adcock having no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
Peacock-Farrell had the immediate chance to make a giant first impression but had no chance with Chery’s clinical pile-driver which soared into the top left corner.
QPR finished the game the brighter but there was one last chance for Leeds to snatch victory in the third minute of injury time though Smithies was on hand to keep out a close range effort from Coyle and then block a follow-up effort from Wood which was also offside.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 83), Cook, Dallas (Coyle 85), Carayol (Mowatt 89), Wood. Subs not used: Grimes, Bamba, Adeyemi, Antenucci.
QPR: Smithies; Onuoha, Angella, Hall, Perch; Phillips, Faurlin, Luongo, Hoilett (Chery 74); Mackie (Polter 24), Washington (El Khayati 80). Subs not used: Ingram, Robinson, Henry, Gladwin.
Referee: James Adcock.
Attendance: 17, 388.