Leeds strike late to salvage a point at Middlesbrough
Kalvin Phillips’ injury time equaliser was enough to get Leeds back to the top for now
Middlesbrough’s Aden Flint and George Friend react after Leeds United’s Kalvin Phillips equalises in their Championship clash. Photo: Richard Sellers/PA Wire
Middlesbrough 1 Leeds United 1
Kalvin Phillips headed Leeds back to the top of the Sky Bet Championship with an equaliser in the 11th minute of stoppage time to frustrate Middlesbrough.
Boro looked like climbing to within four points of the top two at the Riverside Stadium courtesy of Lewis Wing’s opener less than two minutes after the restart.
But then Leeds’ perseverance finally paid off when they found a way to break down Middlesbrough’s resistance.
That was the case even though more than 100 minutes of football had to be played because of an interruption in play towards the end of the game when someone on the Leeds bench needed medical attention.
Leeds knew that avoiding defeat would lift them back to the top of the Championship.
But despite plenty of attacking play and movement, Marcelo Bielsa’s team were unable to test goalkeeper Darren Randolph before Wing’s opener.
Once Mateusz Klich had volleyed wide from Kemar Roofe’s cross in his direction, it soon became a question of when Middlesbrough could get the breakthrough.
There was plenty of pressure on the hosts to deliver a performance and a result because of the midweek defeat to Newport in the FA Cup, when fans accused certain players — without foundation in some cases according to the club — of getting involved in a spat with supporters.
But there was no sign of a rift this time as the men in red shirts regularly pressed for the opening goal.
Former Chelsea man John Obi Mikel, back in the thick of the midfield again after a midweek rest, got a couple of good moves rolling. One of those ended with the lively George Saville forcing a save out of Kiko Casilla.
There were also more clear-cut chances. Aden Flint somehow headed over the crossbar from close range when he met Saville’s corner, while Flint also headed a Ryan Shotton cross wide.
There had also been an opening for Shotton, after some neat work by George Friend and Saville down the left, before Middlesbrough were eventually rewarded with the opener less than two minutes into the second half.
Friend, asked time and again to press forward, picked out Wing on the edge of the area. The former northern league footballer controlled before side-footing a lovely finish inside Casilla’s bottom-left corner.
Leeds — buoyed by the departure of Wing through injury just after the hour — tried a few different things to get back into it. They had five fantastic chances in the space of two minutes during a huge spell of heavy pressure on the Middlesbrough box.
After Daniel Ayala had just done enough to turn Patrick Bamford’s effort behind for a corner following a fine Pablo Hernandez pass, Boro were indebted to some excellent goalkeeping and defending.
Randolph made two-point blank saves in quick succession to deny Roofe and then, after Pontus Jansson’s header clipped the upright, Bamford could only turn the rebound wide when it looked easier to score.
Then came the lengthy delay, with Phillips on hand to nod in the equaliser in a crowded box.
Che Adams scored a 21-minute first-half hat-trick to push Birmingham within two points of the top six as the Blues edged a seven-goal thriller 4-3 against QPR at Loftus Road.
Adams, who has now scored in six successive league matches to take his tally to 19 for the season, scored in the 21st, 26th and 42nd minutes with centre-back Harlee Dean adding a 36th-minute header to give Garry Monk’s side a 4-0 lead.
But Matt Smith pulled two goals back within a few minutes either side of half-time, before Jordan Cousins added a third. Rangers could have salvaged a point, but Lee Camp saved a Nakhi Wells penalty late on to leave Steve McClaren’s side without a league win since Boxing Day.
Bristol City made it eight straight wins in all competitions — and six in the league — with defender Eros Pisano scoring the only goal of the game against Blackburn at Ewood Park.
City remain in the top six on goal difference from Derby, who beat Hull 2-0 at Pride Park courtesy of a brace from Martyn Waghorn.
Nottingham Forest enjoyed a 2-1 success to remain in the play-off hunt, five points adrift of the top six, and end Brentford’s 10-game unbeaten run in all competitions.
Lewis Grabban made it 16 for the season — albeit with his first since the start of December — with a crisp finish from six yards, and he should have added a second in the second half, only for Daniel Bentley to deny him from the spot after the striker had been brought down.
Instead, it was left to new defensive signing Molla Wague on his debut — on loan from Serie A side Udinese — to clinch the points in the 79th minute, with Sergi Canos scoring a late consolation.
Bolton’s relegation fears increased following a 2-1 defeat at home to Preston — their fifth loss in six league games — with Alan Browne firing the opener through the legs of David Wheater in the 40th minute, followed by Tom Barkhuizen’s 82nd-minute strike. Clayton Donaldson scored a late consolation.
Following a Swansea fans’ protest before kick-off against the running of the club by American duo Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien — with Huw Jenkins resigning as chairman a week ago — they at least restored a degree of pride on the pitch with a much-needed 1-0 win over Millwall thanks to George Byers’ first senior goal.
Relegation-threatened Rotherham were held to their 12th draw of the season, 1-1 at home to Wigan.
After Wigan captain Danny Fox was stretchered off following a clash of heads in the first half, Clark Robertson soon headed home a Will Vaulks cross but the Millers’ lead was short-lived as Josh Windass scored his third goal in his last three games.
New Sheffield Wednesday manager Steve Bruce’s first home game in charge ended in a dour goalless draw with Reading.