Leeds United defender Kyle Bartley voiced his relief after fearing he had incurred a two-match ban during Saturday’s win over Sheffield Wednesday.
The centre-back cut a distraught figure as referee Michael Jones prepared to show his yellow card after Bartley slid in on Wednesday winger Ross Wallace midway through the second half but his frustration was short-lived as Jones booked Wallace for diving instead.
Bartley is one caution away from mandatory two-game suspension and has been walking a tightrope since his booking in a 2-1 defeat to Huddersfield Town on February 5.
The 25-year-old and Luke Ayling, who is also on nine for the season, will be spared bans if the pair avoid a 10th yellow until after United’s meeting with Queens Park Rangers on March 11 and Bartley was pleased to avoid a booking which would have ruled him out of forthcoming meetings with Birmingham City and Fulham.
Wallace went down on the very edge of United’s box during a spell of concerted pressure from Wednesday and Bartley said: “I knew I hadn’t touched him but I’d seen the referee sprinting towards me. I just don’t want to miss any games.
“It’s a really vital part of the season and I want to be involved as much as I can and try to help the club.”
Head coach Garry Monk has three of his first-choice defenders on the verge of suspensions and Pontus Jansson is two cautions away from a three-match ban after receiving his 13th on Saturday for a first-half tackle on Fernando Forestieri.
A precious 1-0 win over Wednesday, however, took Leeds a step closer to a Championship play-off spot as Chris Wood’s first-half goal separated two evenly-matched teams.
United’s victory was their 11th at Elland Road this season and Rob Green’s penalty save from Jordan Rhodes in the second half recorded another clean sheet on a ground where Leeds have kept 10 this term.
Wood’s effort was United’s only shot on target but Wednesday also struggled to create chances, despite extended periods of pressure in the second half.
Rhodes was limited to one volley over the crossbar in the first half and a missed penalty in the second while Fernando Forestieri – briefly a transfer target of Leeds’ in the early days of Massimo Cellino’s reign as club owner – rarely threatened.
“It was down to everyone doing their job and taking responsibility,” Bartley said. “We stayed high up the pitch because you don’t want to drop deep with players like that around. You don’t want to give them a sniff in the box.
“We enjoy dominating and keeping clean sheets. We knew Jordan would provide us with a challenge but we dealt with that head on. They’re a really good team and they’ve spent a lot of money but we looked so solid.
“It was massively important to get those points on the board. We speak before every game about this being our house. We don’t want anyone to come to our house and score goals against us. I think the team spirit really shone through.”