KYLE BARTLEY headed home an 86th-minute winner as Leeds United finally bagged their first home win of the season with a tense 2-1 victory against the Championship’s bottom side Blackburn Rovers at Elland Road.
Leeds took a 65th-minute lead when dropped striker Chris Wood came off the substitute’s bench to tap home Hadi Sacko’s cross.
United looked to be cruising to a straight-forward victory but Rovers had other ideas and levelled with 13 minutes left when another substitute, Marvin Emnes, smashed home a drive from the edge of the box.
But Leeds bagged a dramatic winner just four minutes from time when Alex Mowatt’s right wing free-kick was headed into the roof of the net by Bartley.
Blackburn threatened first and in a major way in the seventh minute.
A long looping ball over the top caught United’s back line napping and Rob Green came hurtling out of his area before clattering Sam Gallagher outside of his box.
Gallagher was clear but had knocked the ball past Green and towards the corner flag, leaving referee James Adcock to issue a yellow and not a red card.
After a break in play while Green and Gallagher received treatment for injuries, Ben Marshall smashed his free-kick into the wall before Craig Conway lashed the rebound over the bar.
The heavens then opened in the 14th minute with the heavy rain that caused mayhem up and down the country and Green subsequently spilled a right flank cross from Conway but a lack of Rovers pressure allowed the ‘keeper to gather at the second attempt.
At the other end, a left flank Taylor cross was then hacked narrowly over the crossbar by Derrick Williams before Eunan O’Kane fired over from range.
Sacko then narrowly failed to connect with a pulled back cross from Stuart Dallas before Luke Ayling’s low shot was saved.
Blackburn’s Gordon Greer was then booked for pulling back Pablo Hernandez before Dallas headed wide from a 32nd-minute corner, moments before another Dallas header was placed straight at Jason Steele, this time from a Hadi Sacko cross.
The rain, meanwhile, continued to pour amid dramatic thunder and lightning.
United’s Sacko was then cautioned for scything down Derrick Williams outside the area but United eventualy cleared the resulting free-kick and corner.
At the other end, the lively Dallas then smashed another effort over the bar from outside the box before a rather dull first half was ended after seven minutes of injury time.
Blackburn then threatened within 30 seconds of the restart when United lost possession and Marshall fired just wide from outside the area.
Leeds then lost captain Liam Bridcutt to injury with the midfielder replaced by Phillips four minutes into the second half.
United then went close when Sacko’s close-range attempt was deflected narrowly over the bar by Tommie Hoban before another attempt from Dallas was easily saved.
Hope Akpan’s attempt was then well off target for Rovers and Antonsson then turned neatly before firing a powerful drive straight down Jason Steele’s throat.
Another Akpan effort at the other end was high and not so handsome.
Rovers looked there for the taking and after a miscued effort from Hernandez was deflected away for a corner, Bartley headed just over from the subsequent set piece.
Monk then called for the introduction of Wood for Antonsson as the game passed the hour mark and the substitution paid instant dividends five minutes later.
Sacko produced a fine run down the right wing and after skinning Williams and racing to the byline, the winger sent over a low cross that whizzed across goal and presented Wood with a tap in.
So rarely had Blackburn threatened that already a home victory looked assured but from nothing Rovers leveled with 13 minutes left.
From a rare foray down the left hand side, the ball was cleared to Emnes on the edge of the area and the striker was allowed far too much freedom and the opportunity to pull the trigger.
In almost identical fashion to the goal conceded against Huddersfield Town on Saturday, a rasping low drive beat Green all ends up at his right-hand post.
Rovers suddenly looked the more likely team to bag a winner and Green had to rush off his line to stop Emnes tapping home a second with nine minutes left.
Monk then called for Mowatt from the bench, on for O’Kane as his last throw of the dice but Rovers went extremely close to netting instead when two stinging shots from Emnes were both parried away by Green.
But Leeds were to have the last laugh as from an 86th-minute free kick on the right hand flank, Mowatt’s free-kick was met by Bartley who powered his header into the roof of the net.
United then had to survive nine nervy minutes of injury time in which Blackburn forced a series of corners but, unlike earlier on in the season, United were able to clear their lines.
At the other end, Sacko then missed a golden opportunity to make it 3-1 in the seventh minute of injury time but his miss proved immaterial, much to the relief of Elland Road.
Leeds United: Green, Ayling, Jansson, Bartley, Taylor, Bridcutt (Phillips 49), O’Kane (Mowatt 83), Hernandez, Dallas, Sacko, Antonsson (Wood 60). Subs not used: Silvestri, Coyle, Cooper, Doukara.
Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Lowe, Greer, Hoban (Lenihan 76), Williams, Evans, Conway, Akpan (Feeney 71), Marshall, Gallagher, Graham (Emnes 60). Subs not used: Raya, Feeney, Byrne, Samuelsen, Guthrie.
Referee: James Adcock