Kalvin Phillips admitted that improvements were needed at both ends of the pitch after his top-drawer finish at Nottingham Forest failed to rescue Leeds United from a 3-1 defeat.
The young midfielder said scrutiny of United’s defence should not disguise the need for Leeds to carry more threat up front following the club’s third loss of the Championship season.
Phillips came off the bench and converted a 25-yard free-kick seven minutes from time to cut a 2-0 deficit and briefly offer United hope of salvaging a result at the City Ground.
Leeds, however, were punished for more defensive errors as Forest struck twice from corners before sealing their win with an injury-time strike from teenage winger Oliver Burke.
United head coach Garry Monk, whose signings this summer have run into double figures, hit out at his side’s defensive errors as August ended with a tally for four points from five matches but Leeds mustered three shots on target at Forest and have averaged a goal a game this month.
The result in Nottingham soured a week in which the club had claimed their first league win away at Sheffield Wednesday and reached the third round of the League Cup with a victory over Luton Town.
“We need to do a bit more going forward,” Phillips said. “I don’t think we create enough chances. I think my free-kick was one of the first proper shots we had at goal but I don’t know whether that’s just because we’re new and bonding, stuff like that.
“Obviously we’re all gutted. We’d had a good week and a loss is bad for us. We were all guns blazing going into the game and the result is a bad one. But hopefully we’ll go onto the next game against Huddersfield and put on a good fight against them.”
Phillips came close to snatching an equaliser shortly after his goal, lobbing a volley narrowly over goalkeeper Stephen Henderson’s crossbar from long range, but Leeds were picked off again at the death when Burke collected a throw-in and left Monk’s defence trailing before shooting past Rob Green.
Asked why Leeds were consistently struggling to deal with set-pieces, Phillips said: “I’m not too sure. I don’t know whether it’s a bit of bad luck or if it’s just a lack of concentration.
“We have been working hard at them. It’s just that every time we get a corner or something against us, either one player hasn’t got his man or it ricochets off someone and goes to another guy. We need to work hard over the international break.”
Monk said he had hoped that Phillips’ impressive finish would be the start of a late recovery, saying: “The result was there to be fought for. The crowd grew frustrated, a bit nervous, and we had a lot of the ball. But we have to be clinical.”