Leeds 2-1 Barnsley: Defeat edges Tykes closer to drop
Last Updated: 21/04/18 6:39pm
Paul Heckingbottom helped push his old club closer to relegation as his Leeds side beat Barnsley 2-1 at a sun-drenched Elland Road.
Heckingbottom left Oakwell under a cloud in February and he did his hometown club no favours on Saturday, with the defeat leaving the Reds two points from safety.
Left-back Tom Pearce netted his first goal on only his third appearance to put Leeds ahead but Barnsley were level at the break after fellow youngster Paudie O'Connor put through his own net.
Ezgjan Alioski restored Leeds' advantage early in the second half and that was enough to give them only their third Championship win of 2018, leaving Barnsley needing to pick up points in their game in hand at Nottingham Forest in midweek.
The Reds, who earned a late draw against relegation rivals Bolton last time out, began the Yorkshire derby like a side with a point to prove but it was Leeds who threatened first. Alioski dispossessed Matt Mills inside the Barnsley box to leave himself one-on-one with goalkeeper Adam Davies but he could only lift his shot well wide.
But there would be no escape for the visitors after 17 minutes when Bradley Potts gave the ball away and Pearce punished him by driving forward before unleashing a left-footed strike across Davies into the bottom corner.
Young United goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell did well to claw the ball away after Pontus Jansson opted to leave Adam Hammill's low cross and then comfortably saved a Potts effort.
Leeds did not heed the warnings, though, and were pegged back in the 37th minute when Jansson failed to deal with Ezekiel Fryers' left-wing cross and O'Connor sliced a split-second attempted clearance beyond Peacock-Farrell.
Half-time allowed the hosts to regroup and they were back in front five minutes after the restart as Kemar Roofe got in behind Mills and kept his composure on the byline to give Alioski an easy finish from his centre. Barnsley responded positively and thought they were back level when Oli McBurnie finished Mahoney's cross only to be denied by the offside flag.
The visitors rarely threatened as the game entered the closing stages but, when a golden opportunity did present itself to substitute Kieffer Moore, he failed to tap into an empty net. Hammill was booked for diving following a challenge from Matthew Pennington in the box as Barnsley sought an equaliser that never came.
Leeds assistant Jamie Clapham: "The game summed up our season. The first 15, 20 minutes we were exceptional - we played really fast and were on the front foot. Then we got the goal and for some unknown reason we just switched off and they managed to get in the game.
"We were getting so much wrong and it was all about us, they didn't change what they were doing. You can see the equaliser was coming for them and then at half-time we had to have strong words. We got the goal and controlled large periods again then. Towards the end it was a real battle and we had to man up and do everything you need to get results. It's fantastic for our players and full credit to them."
Jose Morais: "It's between us and the teams close to us in this moment. Bolton is the team that is closest and my belief is that we have definitely to win the next game, which is the game we have less than the others.
"Winning this game we will be in a good position and after that is to control in terms of making the same results as the teams that we are in a direct fight with. Tuesday is a must-win game, definitely."