Leeds United still believing despite derby hurt

New Leeds United winger Alfonso Pedraza applauds the fans after making his debut at Huddersfield.
New Leeds United winger Alfonso Pedraza applauds the fans after making his debut at Huddersfield.

Leeds United boss Garry Monk believes a second derby defeat to Huddersfield Town will not derail his team as they look to stay in the promotion hunt in the EFL Championship.

The Whites went down 2-1 after Michael Hefele’s 90th minute goal won a tetchy contest in which Chris Wood’s 21st goal of the season had earlier cancelled out Izzy Brown’s opener for Town.

It gave the Terriers a double over Leeds, who also lost recently in a similarly competitive Yorkshire derby at Barnsley, but Monk was happy with the attitude shown by his players and is convinced if they continue on their current path they will achieve their goals.

He said: “I can’t be critical of my players. I’m very proud of them.

“To come away to a very good side and at a difficult place to play and put that type of committed performance – I felt gutted for them.

“Small margins will decide a game and with their second goal, where it deflects into the path of the lad who scores, you need to be on the right side of those.

“We were extremely unlucky and we didn’t deserve to lose. I felt for my players today. They didn’t deserve that at all. That performance and that commitment, from everyone – including our fans – deserved much more.

“We haven’t got it, but I just said to the players at the end, that doesn’t change anything for us. We keep showing the same commitment, showing the same attitude, showing the same fighting spirit to put our football on the pitch, and that will serve us well going forward.

“We’re a good team and we’re improving with time.

“We are all disappointed, we don’t like to lose any game and to lose against Huddersfield hurts. In the next game we will make sure that this hurt comes out and we will be ready to go again.

“We have to put everything in perspective, we are still in a very good position and we as a team and our fans have to continue fighting together until the end of the season.”

The result dropped Leeds down to fifth below Huddersfield, but could prove costlier down the line with five players booked, including centre-back Kyle Bartley, who is now just one yellow card away from an automatic two-match ban.

Fellow defender Pontus Jansson also picked up his 12th yellow card of the season for his part in the melee near the end and he must avoid picking up 15 bookings before the end of the season to avoid a three-match suspension, having already been banned twice on the totting up procedure.

Both defenders are set to feature as United now have back to back home games against Cardiff City, which could be another fiery encounter, on Saturday and Bristol City next Tuesday.

The return to home gives Leeds a chance to climb back up the table, but they have to first overcome a team that will be fired up by former United manager Neil Warnock.

United’s current boss Monk has some selection decisions to make as he tries to get his team back to the standard against Derby last month.

He could give new loan signings Alfonso Pedraza and Modou Barrow their first start after the wingers arrived on transfer deadline day and came on as second half substitutes at Huddersfield. Pedraza, in particular, looked a bright prospect and being left footed offers something different to a team of mostly right footers.

Kemar Roofe, if fit after missing the Huddersfield trip, could come back in at number 10 for Pablo Hernandez, who has been disappointing when starting in recent games.