Leeds United boss Monk happy at home at last
Leeds United climbed up the EFL Championship table with a victory on a night of firsts at Elland Road.
Kyle Bartley’s first goal in Leeds colours three minutes from time gave Garry Monk his first home win since he took over as United head coach as the Whites deservedly beat Blackburn Rovers 2-1.
A dull first half in which both sides showed why they started the evening in the bottom three gave way to an exciting second half in which United took the lead through substitute Chris Wood only to be pegged back as Rovers sub Marvin Emnes also scored.
But after Wood won a free-kick in the 87th minute another sub, Alex Mowatt played the ball in perfectly for centre-back Bartley to head home via the post.
Leeds went back to the 4-2-3-1 formation they started the season with, Pablo Hernandez returning in a number 10 role, Stuart Dallas back in on the left wing and Eunan O’Kane making his debut in central midfield.
They looked better balanced than against Huddersfield last Saturday, although they still struggled to create clear chances in the opening half.
O’Kane had their first shot, hitting an effort from 25 yards out over the bar on 19 minutes.
Before then Blackburn came up with their only threatening attack of the half as Sam Gallagher ran onto a ball over the top only to be stopped by onrushing home keeper Rob Green just outside the Leeds area.
Green mistimed his leap and there was a clash of heads that left both players bandaged and saw the United stopper booked.
From the resulting free-kick, Ben Marshall’s shot hit the wall and the rebound was sent over by Craig Conway.
The first shot on target came from Leeds on 22 minutes when right-back Luke Ayling got forward to send in a low shot that was comfortably gathered by Jason Steele.
A good move saw Hernandez combine well with Hadi Sacko and his cross was met at the far post by Stuart Dallas whose header down was saved by Steele with Antonsson lurking.
Played to the backdrop of a thunder and lightning storm there was more dramatic stuff off the pitch than on it with a Dallas shot over from the edge of the box the only other effort of the opening half.
But the second half was quickly better as Blackburn went straight on the attack with Marshall hitting a low shot just wide from 25 yards out.
Leeds lost captain Liam Bridcutt to injury with the midfielder replaced by Kalvin Phillips four minutes into the second half. But they began to play faster and created an opportunity when Sacko saw his shot deflected wide.
Hope Akpan hit two shots from range over for the visitors, but Antonsson worked some space well at the edge of the Rovers box only to see his shot saved by Steele.
Hernandez saw a volley deflected wide and from the resulting corner Bartley headed just over.
Wood came on for Antonsson on the hour and within five minutes he came up with the opening goal, sidefooting home after some great wing play and a low pull back by Sacko.
Blackburn stunned the home crowd when they hit back on 77 minutes as Emnes was given room on the edge of the box to send a shot crashing into the net.
They then suddenly upped their game and looked the more likely to go on to win with Emnes getting free inside the box. His shot was saved by Green at his near post and the follow-up from the Rovers striker was then turned away by Green.
This time it was Leeds’ turn to score against the run of play as Mowatt’s free-kick found Bartley unmarked to make it 2-1.
They then had to ensure more than nine minutes of added time and survived several corners with the impressive Pontus Jansson getting his head to most of them.
It was Leeds, though, who looked most like scoring again when Sacko raced clean through only to shoot wide with only Steele to beat and two team-mates unmarked to his left.
It did not matter in the end as United were able to celebrate a first home win of the season to climb up to 17th in the table.
Leeds United 2
(Wood 65, Bartley 87)
Blackburn Rovers 1
Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Taylor, Bridcutt (Phillips 49), O’Kane (Mowatt 83), Sacko, Hernandez, Dallas, Antonsson (Wood 60).
Blackburn: Steele, Lowe, Greer, Hoban (Lenihan 75), Williams, Evans, Akpan (Feeney 71), Conway, Marshall, Gallagher, Graham (Emnes 60).
Referee: James Adcock.