A WINLESS Easter may have left Leeds United’s play-off hopes hanging by a thread, but manager Simon Grayson (pictured) is not throwing in the towel just yet.
Monday’s 1-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on top of a goalless draw at home to Reading on Friday has seen the Whites drop from sixth to ninth place with their destiny no longer in their own hands.
They were the better side in both games, but with leading scorer Luciano Becchio unable to play because of injury they could not turn chances into goals and now need a change of fortune in their last league games at home to seventh-placed Burnley on Saturday and away to leaders QPR on the last day of the season.
Another season in the Npower Championship seems likely, but manager Grayson is refusing to give up on Leeds’ bid for the play-offs.
He said: “We want to turn a good season into a great season. The next two games are both winnable. We still have a fighting chance and football has a funny way of being unpredictable.
“It is out of our hands now, where a few weeks ago it was down to us. We have not had the breaks and it showed again (at Palace).
“If it doesn’t happen this year then we will come back again and try next year.”
Selhurst Park has long been a bogey ground for Leeds and so it proved again as they lost to a second minute strike by Neil Danns that went in via a deflection off Andy O’Brien.
United had plenty of the ball, especially in the second half, to hit back, but were frustrated by the Palace defence.
Bradley Johnson, who had been denied by the woodwork against Reading, was unlucky again when his curling effort was just kept out by Palace keeper Julian Speroni. Substitute Davide Somma was also denied by Speroni when presented with a clear chance in the 75th minute.
But the hosts clung on and survived late on when Danns was sent off in injury time for a second bookable offence.
Crystal Palace 1
Leeds United 0
Monday, April 25, 2010
Crystal Palace: Speroni, Clyne, Wright, McCarthy, Moxey, Gardner, Danns (sent-off 90), Dikgacoi (Agustien 77), Iversen (Davis 81), Zaha, Easter (Vaughan 73).
Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly (Kilkenny 45), Naylor, O’Brien, Lichaj, Snodgrass, Livermore (Watt 45), Howson, Johnson, Gradel, Paynter (Somma 73).
Referee: Neil Swarbrick.