By James Grayson (Twitter - @jamesAgrayson)
Leeds United’s hopes of reaching the Championship play-offs hang in the balance following a disappointing 1-1 draw with relegation strugglers Peterborough United at Elland Road.
A second half equaliser from man-of-the-match Sam Byram rescued a point after in-form Peterborough striker Dwight Gayle had put the visitors ahead on 15 minutes.
And boos rang out at the final whistle as Peterborough finished the stronger side.
The result leaves Leeds five points off the play-offs with only nine games remaining.
Leeds manager Neil Warnock had warned his players not to under-estimate Peterborough and they clearly hadn’t listened as Darren Ferguson’s men made a fine start to the match.
Gayle saw an effort cannon back off the crossbar just minutes before he held off Leeds captain Lee Peltier and fired his shot past Paddy Kenny and into the top corner.
Gayle, who has made an impressive start to life with Peterborough since his move from Dagenham and Redbridge, caused endless problems for Peltier and Tom Lees, who would have to withdraw due to injury in the first half.
His replacement Jason Pearce then wasted four guilt-edge chances in the last 60 minutes – including a close range header when the goal was gaping.
But Leeds knew they could find a way back into the match. The Peterborough defence looked vulnerable and were making careless mistakes.The goalkeeper Robert Olejnik looked a bag of nerves and was suspect with his kicking and throwing ability.
However, forward talisman Steve Morison, double goal-scorer at Crystal Palace, was being kept under lock and key by defender Gabriel Zakuani.
So when Warnock brought off Morison and replaced him with El-Hadji Diouf at half-time, it breathed new life into Leeds. Diouf allowed Leeds to attack with the ball on the ground and this caused Peterborough to start rocking.
And after a few half chances, Leeds scored the equaliser on 57 minutes.
Stephen Warnock’s corner went across goal and teenager Byram, recently linked with Manchester City, connected with the ball with his shin which took the ball over-the-line.
Leeds pressed for the winner, but it was Peterborough who nearly won the game in the closing stages.
Gayle, Kane Ferdinand and Lee Tomlin all got behind the Leeds defence towards the end, but the Whites managed to survive. Gayle also had a decent attempt tipped over the crossbar by Kenny.
Peterborough will look back on the game as two points dropped, while Leeds’ weaknesses were exposed again ahead of a local derby with Huddersfield Town on Saturday.