REDS MATCH REPORT: Leeds 1 Barnsley 0

Leeds United v Barnsley'Paddy Kenny saves from Marlon Harewoods close range effort
Leeds United v Barnsley'Paddy Kenny saves from Marlon Harewoods close range effort
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A HOTLY-contested penalty winner from in-form Luciano Becchio was all that separated these two Yorkshire derby rivals at Elland Road.

Fed-up Reds boss Keith Hill was stunned by the decision to award the penalty from which this feisty clash was won, and knows too that the way his side ran the show at times will soon be consigned to history.

Leeds were in great form going into the game having gone four unbeaten in Championship and cup. But the Reds were excellent at times, spraying the ball around the pitch confidently and creating more than enough chances to have probably gone on and won the game.

However, in a fortnight’s time after the international break, all that will still count for nothing according to Hill.

“It was a great performance but it’ll all be forgotten,” admitted Hill.

“At the end of the day it’s a results-driven business and pressure will just build and build. It’s proved to be another case of coulda, shoulda, woulda.

“I can’t be critical of the players, but when you miss probably four gilt-edged chances when you’re on top like that ... you have to take at least one of them.”

Hill made three changes to his starting line-up following the disappointing home defeat against rock-bottom Peterborough during the week.

Stephen Foster was back at the heart of the defence having recovered from a back problem, with versatile Bobby Hassell dropped to the substitutes’ bench.

Martin Cranie missed out altogether with a calf strain, with David Perkins stepping up to feature on the left side of midfield.

Hill also opted to give veteran striker Marlon Harewood a chance alongside eight-goal Craig Davies, with Chris Dagnall forced to miss out.

The Reds have already faced some stern tests on their travels this season, but this all-Yorkshire clash promised to be the toughest so far given the extra anticipation and expectation from all sides.

Hill’s battlers needn’t have been apprehensive, though. Last season the Reds won both Championship fixtures against Leeds, with the 2-1 victory in Leeds in November being followed by a thumping 4-1 win back at Oakwell barely a month later.

The Reds didn’t hold back in the first half. They bossed possession in the opening hal -hour and could have been at least a couple of goals clear.

Perkins fired over from 12 yards in only the second minute, then three minutes later a crisp move down the left culminated with Tomasz Cywka crossing in for Jacob Mellis who inexplicably side-footed wide from the edge of the six-yard box.

Next to go close was Mellis, who swiveled to meet Perkins’ beautifully-floated through-ball but could only volley straight at Leeds keeper Paddy Kenny.

It was the 28th minute by the time Leeds mustered a chance, with El-Hadji Diouf crossing for Becchio who planted his diving header just over the top.

The defining moment of the clash came three minutes before the interval.

Leeds full-back and skipper Lee Peltier charged towards the box before being clumsily impeded by Foster.

It was a foul, but it did look as though the infringement took place outside the box, leading to scenes of disbelief on the Barnsley bench as referee Deadman pointed to the spot.

The Reds players protested furiously, but Becchio was unmoved and he jogged up to the ball before clipping home a cheeky kick in Pirlo-esque style.

Unsurprisingly Leeds gained plenty of confidence from their piece of fortune and came out with guns blazing at the start of the second period.

Becchio, Rodolph Austin and Diouf all tested keeper Ben Alnwick, but the gutsy Reds certainly weren’t out of this one yet.

Harewood was thwarted by a brilliant point-blank save from Kenny, while right at the end the hugely impressive and sought-after John Stones found space in the box as he met Mellis’s floated free-kick, but Kenny was perfectly placed to clutch the ball out of the air just as it looked destined for the goal.

So it was more away-day frustration for the Reds, while Leeds boss Neil Warnock was delighted to see his players edge into seventh place in the Championship.

Warnock said: “I can’t fault the effort from the lads. This last two or three weeks every single member of the squad has been phenomenal.”