Leeds United captain Liam Cooper held up his hands and offered no excuses after the club surrendered a two-goal advantage in Saturday’s 3-2 loss to Watford.
Cooper described himself as “devastated” and said United were counting the cost of defensive mistakes and missed chances following Watford’s fightback from 2-0 down.
The Championship promotion contenders appeared to be heading for defeat after Billy Sharp and Rodolph Austin struck early in the game, the latter with a raking volley from 25 yards, but a Troy Deeney goal and a brace from Matej Vydra took advantage of a dramatic collapse by Leeds.
United head coach Neil Redfearn pointed the finger at his defence afterwards, blaming “poor decisions” for Watford’s recovery, and Cooper conceded that Leeds had struggled to cope with a front three of Deeney, Vydra and Almen Abdi. The 23-year-old also pointed to a double opportunity in the second half which fell to Austin with United 2-1 ahead as a crucial moment in an eventful contest but he urged Leeds to put the game behind them as they turned their attention to Wednesday night’s meeting with Ipswich Town.
“It was devastating and the lads are disappointed,” Cooper said. “We scored two good goals and gave them a good game for an hour. Everyone could see what we were doing well. We stopped their passing game and defended higher up the pitch which allowed Billy (Sharp) to be in and around their box.
“We couldn’t keep at it for the full 90 minutes and Rudy’s chance was a game-changer. Then a couple of mistakes cost us. But we’ve got to go again on Wednesday now. You can’t look back and get your head down.”
Cooper was full of admiration for Watford’s attacking line and claimed Ipswich would not pose the same sort of threat at Elland Road in 48 hours’ time.
“They were the best forward three we have faced this season to be fair,” Cooper said. “Abdi, Vydra and Deeney are very good and they put us up against it.
“You’re never up against that quality every week and come Wednesday it’ll be a completely different game. They (Ipswich) won’t pass it as much. They’re more direct and get the ball forward.”
Leeds are 16th in the table after Saturday’s result, protected from the relegation zone by a 10-point cushion.
Redfearn cut an unhappy figure at full-time but Cooper said: “Neil wasn’t angry. It’s not a time to get angry. He just wants up to get our heads up and looking at the next game.
“He was disappointed, mistakes cost us and he made his point clear. We’ve got to accept that and move on.”