PAUL HECKINGBOTTOM claimed Leeds United had kept their pursuit of a play-off position alive by fighting back from 2-0 down to claim a draw with sixth-placed Bristol City.
Heckingbottom’s first home game as United’s head coach threw up a barnstorming clash as Leeds came through a horrible start to rally in the second half and score twice late on to prevent Bristol City moving out of sight.
A win for Lee Johnson’s side would have left Leeds 11 points adrift of the Championship’s top six with 14 games to play but United maintained a margin of eight as Pierre-Michel Lasogga and Kemar Roofe forced Bristol City to concede a commanding advantage for the second time in eight days.
The crowd at Elland Road had earlier jeered United’s performance, with ‘olés’ greeting passes between players and ironic chants of ‘Leeds are going up’ ringing around the stadium, but the ridicule gave way to deafening support as City hung on desperately in the closing minutes. Adam Forshaw, Kalvin Phillips and Lasogga could all have claimed a last-gasp win, Lasogga striking the crossbar with the last effort of the match, and Heckingbottom claimed the response had kept the door to the play-offs ajar.
“We’ve got teams above us to play and I know it’s a tough set of fixtures but while we’re picking up points from the teams above us, no-one will be getting away from us,” he said.
“That’s how we have to look at it. If we can pick up positive results then we’ll see where we are before the last 10 games. Eleven points would have been big (a big margin) so yes, we’re still in there.”
Leeds were undone twice in the first 16 minutes by long throws, shipping simple finishes to Famara Diedhiou and Bobby Reid.
Heckingbottom said: “The third goal was going to be vital and we stressed that at half-time. Once we got that goal and got back in it, I felt a draw was the minimum we were going to do.
“We had chances right at the death and I know when I watch them back I’ll be cringing because I think they were really good ones. We possibly should have won it.
“Bristol are really well organised at set-plays and it was those set-plays they played for.
We’ve got teams above us to play and I know it’s a tough set of fixtures but while we’re picking up points from the teams above us, no-one will be getting away from usLeeds United boss, Paul Heckingbottom
“Because we didn’t deal with the threats and went behind, we played into the away team’s hands. That was the difficulty.
“But at 2-0 there can’t have been many people not singing. The scarves were out, the noise was there and the crowd played their part in getting that point. They made a huge difference.
“I’m new into the club but I probably understand the club a lot more than some of the players who haven’t been here too long.
“Coming and playing here, you’ve got to enjoy it and embrace it. But there’s a lot to put right.”
Johnson, who had watched his side surrender a 3-0 lead to Sunderland in the final 20 minutes of their previous match, also credited the crowd for helping to turn yesterday’s match.
“Leeds are a good side and it was a difficult atmosphere to play in,” he said. “We showed everything that we are – a little bit inexperienced at this level.
“There was a clear momentum swing and that’s the bit where a bit of inexperience plays its hand. If we want to go where we want to go we’ll have to deal with it better than we have done.”