Leeds United’s mini revival ended at Elland Road when they lost out to a controversial goal against Brentford.
Referee Graham Salisbury was the villain of the piece as far as United fans were concerned with a run of decisions against Leeds and his failure to spot what looked like a handball in the build-up to the only goal of the game, scored by Alex Pritchard.
Salisbury failed to point to the spot when Rudy Austin was brought down in the box in the first half and two more big shouts after the break were waved away when Austin went down again and Billy Sharp fell in the area.
But however poor the officials were there was no disguising this was a step backwards for Leeds after their recent improvement and a poor performance with the better team taking home the points.
The Whites got in the first decent effort of the game and started lively enough with Steve Morison’s header from a Charlie Taylor cross forcing visiting keeper David Button into a save.
Soon after Luke Murphy’s free-kick deflected over off the defensive wall and from the resulting corner Liam Cooper’s flick-on sent the ball just wide and only just evaded home debutant Sol Bamba at the back post.
The first warning of what Brentford could do came on 17 minutes when they broke away quickly and Andre Gray was clean through one-on-one only to see Marco Silvestri stand up strong to make a good save.
Leeds went back on attack and a good pass from Morison gave Austin space on the edge of the box, but he fired his shot over.
Brentford always looked threatening on the break and after one move was ended by a Cooper trip the resulting free-kick saw Pritchard’s shot well claimed by keeper Silvestri.
Another dangerous break out saw Jota clean through only for Silvestri to come to the home side’s rescue again with another fine save.
Sharp’s low cross was only just cleared by Harlee Dean with Morison arriving for a tap-in as United again threatened, but it stayed goalless to half-time.
Home fans booed referee Salisbury off the pitch at the break, however, after he did not give a penalty for a trip on Austin as he looked to break into the box from his left side role. The reaction of Austin told the story of how angry he was at the non decision and it was to prove a big call.
A run of free-kicks went against Leeds at the start of the second half and the anger round the ground was compounded when Austin got in behind the Bees defence and went to ground with no penalty resulting. It looked a minimal touch, but Brentford were winning decisions for similar offences round the pitch.
The game became messy for a spell, although Morison did take a corner down only to shoot well over from inside the box.
The key moment came in the 65th minute when Jon Toral appeared to prevent United clearing their lines with a handball. The ball was then swiftly moved onto Toumani Diagouraga, whose low cross fell nicely for Pritchard to tap in at the far post.
Leeds players had to be told to calm down by the referee and maybe lost their shape a bit as they were looking for retribution more than playing their football. Brentford were able to kill the game and could have scored again when Toral’s volley hit the post and Jake Bidwell’s angled drive was not far wide.
The visitors’ keeper was finally brought into the action, but it was an easy save to make as Austin did not get full contact on his shot from the edge of the box.
Leeds then had their big chance to equalise as Austin got in behind the visitors’ defence and his pull back fell to Sharp, who drove the ball inches wide.
United threw on Edgar Cani for his debut up front and finished with three strikers, but could have conceded again when Toral shot straight at Silvestri after being well placed in the box.
Leeds had one last throw of the dice in added time, but in an almighty scramble Sharp and Cani both saw efforts blocked close to goal and Brentford survived for a win that saw them do the double over the Whites this season.
United head coach Neil Redfearn felt his side were hard done to.
He said: “We deserved something. We have played better, but we looked solid enough.
“I didn’t thing they were that sparkling, but they toughed it out.
“When you are getting decisions against you constantly in the game you are fighting with one arm behind your back.
“It’s a tough job I understand that, but there’s certain things that are 50-50 and you’ve got to show some parity. The vast majority went against us.
“There were two decisions on the goal that should have gone our way, there was a foul and a handball. I thought the referee was going to blow, but he just played on. He was obviously going to give the foul the other way, which was way off the mark.”
On the penalty shots, Redfearn added: “Rudy said the first one was more of a penalty, but I didn’t have a clear view of that. For me the second one was. I was right behind it.”
Leeds United 0
Saturday, February 7, 2015
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, C Taylor, Byram, Austin, Murphy (Cani 85), Cook, Sharp, Morison (Antenucci 73).
Brentford: Button, Obubajo, Dean, Tarkowski, Bidwell, Douglas, Diagouraga, Jota (Toral 58), Pritchard (Smith 82), Dallas, Gray (Long 66).
Referee: Graham Salisbury