Leeds United produced a stirring fightback and came within a whisker of a win in Paul Heckingbottom’s first home game as head coach at Elland Road.
Two down inside 16 minutes and outplayed by Bristol City for the first two thirds of the match, the Whites found some spirit from somewhere to draw 2-2 with goals from Pierre-Michael Lasogga and Kemar Roofe.
And only the thickness of the crossbar allowed the visitors to go home with a point after Lasogga hit the crossbar with a header in the last attack of the game.
Heckingbottom went with a 4-4-2 formation in his second game in charge of Leeds, making three changes from the starting side that lost at Sheffield United with Vurnon Anita in at right-back, Pablo Hernandez on the left wing and Caleb Ekuban up front alongside Lasogga. Left out were Ezgjan Alioski, Roofe and Kelvin Phillips.
United started well enough as Ekuban sent right winger Stuart Dallas in, but his shot was palmed away by visiting keeper Frank Fielding.
Bristol showed early that they would carry a threat from the long throws of Hordur Magnussen and from one of them Leeds keeper Felix Wiedwald came out for the ball and never got near it. The half-clearance fell to City striker Famara Diedhou in the box and he had time to pick his spot into the unguarded net for the opening goal.
Five minutes later another Magnussen throw caused havoc and when the ball was hammered across Bobby Reid reacted best to score from close range.
Leeds failed to react as their football became ragged in a bid to get the ball forward faster than they were used to under their previous head coach. Reid saw a shot deflected wide for the visitors and Ryan Kent’s angled drive was beaten away by Wiedwald.
Aden Flint flicked a header wide from a corner with the only response from United coming when Lasogga sent a shot wide from 25 yards after Ekuban had created space for him cleverly.
There was no immediate improvement after the break from Leeds as their opponents had the first chance, Diedhou’s far post header being well saved by Wiedwald.
But strangely City seemed to back off and Leeds gradually got into the game with Ekuban almost getting on the end of a low cross by Dallas and Hernandez having a goalbound shot and a volley blocked.
Magnussen sent a 20-yard free-kick over before the game took a significant change as Lasogga volleyed home to give the Whites a lifeline.
It was 2-2 seven minutes later when a corner was flicked on and substitute Roofe slid in to score from close range.
Leeds went for an unexpected winner and came close when Adam Forshaw burst forward from midfield to send a curling shot just wide.
Phillips then headed over after a free-kick was flicked on and in the dying seconds the best chance of all fell to Lasogga as Hernandez did well down the left to get a cross in, but the German could not believe it as his last-gasp header hit the woodwork.
Head coach Heckingbottom was encouraged by his players’ performance.
He said: “At half-time we would have taken a point, but once we got back in it we had a couple of chances to win it.
“The start was okay, but Bristol are a really well organised side and use all their weapons. Once we got behind we played into their hands.
“It was obvious to me what was going wrong in the first half and the players responded well to what we said to them at half-time.
“Their plays were from set plays and counter attack, as you would expect from a good away side, but we dealt with that better in the second half.
“Performances like that we will win more than we lose. It was a positive performance.
“I know the players more now. I want the players to understand it’s fresh and new.”
Heckingbottom praised the part played by the crowd.
He added: “I thought the fans were fantastic. It was still 2-0 and there weren’t many people not singing and shaking their scarves. They played a part in getting a point and maybe the three points that they deserved.”
Leeds United 2
(Lasogga 73, 80)
Bristol City 2
(Diedhou 11, Reid 16)
Sunday, February 18, 2018
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Wiedwald, Anita, Pennington, Jansson, De Bock, Dallas (Sacko 64), Forshaw, O’Kane (Phillips 73), Hernandez, Ekuban (Roofe 73), Lasogga.
Bristol City: Fielding, Wright, Flint, Magnussen, Bryan, Smith, Pack, Brownhill (Paterson 80), Reid, Kent, Diedhiou (Woodrow 81).
Referee: Simon Hooper.