2017-18 English League Championship, Regular Season
  • Tom Pearce (17')
  • Ezgjan Alioski (50')
  • Paudie O'Connor (36' OG)

Leeds boss Paul Heckingbottom helps push former side Barnsley closer to danger

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.
Gjanni 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.
Leeds Under-18s were crowned champions earlier in the day but the first team's hopes of celebrating a successful campaign in spring sunshine ended during a post-Christmas meltdown.
United came into the weekend with the fewest points in the Championship this year, leaving Heckingbottom under pressure less than three months into his tenure.
Barnsley declared themselves "shocked and thoroughly disappointed" following his decision to leave Oakwell, comments Heckingbottom described this week as "bang out of order".
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.
The visitors appeared rattled by the goal but they put their bodies on the line from a dangerous Leeds corner and began to ask questions at the other end.
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.
Barnsley were all over Leeds in the closing stages of the half and would have gone into the break ahead but for a brilliant save by Peacock-Farrell from Connor Mahoney's low stoppage-time effort.
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.

English League Championship Standings

1 Leeds United 37 +26 71
2 West Bromwich Albion 37 +27 70
3 Fulham 37 +14 64
4 Brentford 37 +31 60
5 Nottingham Forest 37 +10 60
6 Preston North End 37 +5 56
7 Bristol City 37 -2 55
8 Millwall 37 +4 54
9 Cardiff City 37 +2 54
10 Blackburn Rovers 37 +7 53
11 Swansea City 37 +1 53
12 Derby County 37 0 51
13 Queens Park Rangers 37 -4 50
14 Reading 37 +4 48
15 Sheffield Wednesday 37 -3 48
16 Birmingham City 37 -9 47
17 Stoke City 37 -6 42
18 Huddersfield Town 37 -13 42
19 Middlesbrough 37 -10 41
20 Wigan Athletic 37 -12 41
21 Hull City 37 -14 41
22 Charlton Athletic 37 -10 39
23 Luton Town 37 -28 35
24 Barnsley 37 -20 34