Leeds United returned to winning ways as they survived a second half fight back from Bristol City to win an incident packed game at Elland Road.
Chris Wood’s 22nd goal of the season from a controversially taken free-kick and a deflected Pablo Hernandez shot earned a 2-1 victory with the visitors’ only reply coming in the sixth minute of injury-time with the very last touch of the ball fully 30 seconds after the game should have ended.
After Milan Djuric bundled the ball over the line referee Jeremy Simpson immediately signalled the end of the game, but they were playing time that he only he knew about after his board had said five minutes to add.
The official had earlier angered home fans when he somehow failed to spot the most blatant of handballs in the box when Aden Flint charged the ball down with his raised hands. It was 2-0 at the time with 24 minutes to play and would have enabled United to breathe easier instead of hanging on against a spirited effort from City who threw everything at their hosts.
It was Bristol who were unhappy with Simpson in the first half as he allowed Hernandez to take a quick free-kick when they were not set. His pass went in behind the back line and Wood ran on to it to thump home yet another goal in his amazing season.
The Whites were good value for their half-time lead after producing a vibrant display in the first 45 minutes that much improved on Saturday’s effort against Cardiff.
They enjoyed more freedom in a much more open contest and could have scored twice in the first 10 minutes when Kemar Roofe headed weakly wide when well placed to meet Hernandez’s pinpoint cross and shot just wide from Hernandez’s pass.
Hernandez hit a 20-yard shot over and saw another effort from an angle saved by keeper Fabian Giefer while David Cotterill had a free-kick at the other end palmed away by Rob Green in City’s only early threat.
Roofe was heavily involved early, but his finishing was poor again when he headed wide following great wing play by centre-back Pontus Jansson, back in the side after illness.
Wood had his first chance with a shot that was well held low down by Giefer, but then fired Leeds ahead on 27 minutes as he brushed off his marker to get ahead onto Hernandez’s pass. The visitors thought it was a foul and the kick had been taken too quickly, but the goal stood.
Ronaldo Vieira hit a shot from range over shortly after, but it was the visitors who went close just before half-time as Joe Bryan was sent clear down the left and saw his angled shot beaten away.
Bristol switched to a back three for the start of the second half and put big striker Djuric on. He was straight into the action with a shot well blocked.
However, Leeds doubled their lead as Hernandez found space on the edge of the box and his shot for the bottom left corner was deflected into the opposite corner of the net.
City’s heads did not drop, though as Matty Taylor’s shot was saved at two attempts by Green and Lee Tomlin’s clever chip landed on the top of the net.
As the game remained open Hernandez shot wide from the edge of the box following a low pull back from Hadi Sacko that was only cleared straight to the Spaniard.
Djuric saw a header cleared as the visitors attacked again and Flint sliced a volley wide. Tomlin sent a free-kick wide from the edge of the box before City got away with it when a penalty looked to have been the right decision as Luke Ayling tried to knock a far post cross back into the middle for Leeds and Flint batted the ball down with his hand.
Cotterill saw another angled free-kick beaten away as Bristol still refused to go away, although United should have increased their lead on 73 minutes when Sacko put Wood through, he got to the ball ahead of the keeper and rounded him only to lose balance. He recovered to tee up sub Mo Barrow, but the winger could only scuff his shot under pressure and Giefer saved.
Barrow hit another effort, from much longer range, wildly over as he looked to make an impression on his home debut.
Another sub, Souleymane Doukara, then had a chance as he cleverly opened space on the edge of the box only to shoot wide.
Into injury-time Taylor hit the side netting for the visitors and Flint hit the top of the crossbar with a close range shot before Bristol got their consolation right at the end when a corner was flicked on and squeezed over the line by Djuric.
It should not have counted, coming well after time was up, but there was no doubt that City had deserved their goal after giving Leeds a real fright with their second half attacking.
Leeds boss Garry Monk was relieved to see his side back in the winners’ circle.
He said: “It was a good response after two defeats. There was added pressure onto a young group, but they handed it very well.
“In the first half we were very good. We could have scored more goals.
“After we got the second goal early in the second half we went a little bit too protective and Bristol City’s mindset was that they had nothing to lose. They scored a couple of goals and Greeny made some good saves. But we could have got more goals on the break.
“I think our performance deserved the win and I have to be pleased.
“It was disappointing to let the goal in at the end, but I asked the fourth official why he was playing on after the five minutes was up and he said ‘I don’t know why’ You saw what happened.
“It looked like it should have been a penalty to us as well. I’ve not seen a replay, but it looked quite blatant to me, but it’s just good we got the points. You saw from a young group that they showed a maturity.”
Leeds United 2
(Wood 27, Hernandez 48)
Bristol City 1
Tuesday, February 14, 2017
Leeds: Green, Ayling, Bartley, Jansson, Berardi, Vieira, O’Kane (Phillips 77), Sacko, Hernandez (Doukara), Roofe (Barrow 62), Wood.
Bristol City: Giefer, Little (Djuric 45), Flint, Wright, Golbourne (O’Neil 85), Brownhill, Hegeler, Cotterill, Tomlin, Bryan, Abraham (Taylor 37).
Referee: Jeremy Simpson