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Leeds in danger of prolonging declineIan Appleyard at Elland Road
Leeds United 0
Leicester City 2
KEVIN BLACKWELL reserved criticism of his players to the confines of the dressing room but nothing can hide the latest crisis engulfing Leeds United.
Defeat against Leicester City on Saturday plunged Leeds yet another step closer to the Championship relegation zone and prompted angry supporters to vent clear disapproval at the final whistle.
Chants of 'What a load of rubbish' and 'You are not fit wear to the shirt' have rarely been heard at Elland Road over the last 15 years but Leeds are sinking to new depths and could yet drop into League One unless things improve.
Manager Blackwell inherited a thankless task last summer and deserves more time to get it right – but the patience of supporters and club directors is already starting to wear thin.
Fresh from the embarrassment of losing to the division's bottom club Rotherham United five days earlier, Leeds produced a shockingly toothless display that sent shivers down the spine for all the wrong reasons. Both in attack and defence, they committed footballing suicide; striker Brian Deane missing a sitter and defender Gary Kelly scoring a ridiculous own goal.
The midfield trio of Jermaine Wright, Simon Walton and Sean Gregan played pretty stuff but always in a sideways direction, lacking either the confidence or the ability to go for the jugular.
It was the sort of performance that can leave a manager tearing out his hair and Blackwell ripped into his players in the dressing room afterwards.
Defender Clarke Carlisle said: "We have been given a right ear-bashing – but the gaffer was right. It is getting to the stage now where the league table does not lie.
"We are too near to the bottom of the table. We keep saying how well we have been playing without getting the results but now the results are more important than the performances.
"We are not even halfway through the season but we have got to start doing something about it now. We have to got turn this bus around.''
Carlisle had shaken off the ankle injury suffered at Rotherham to maintain his place in the Leeds side. Deane had returned from a hamstring injury to replace Michael Ricketts, who did not even warrant a place on the bench.
The first half was a dour affair with little in the way of sparkle to lift a subdued crowd. Leeds enjoyed plenty of early possession but, other than a header from David Healy which was pushed around the post by the goalkeeper, created few goalscoring opportunities.
Leicester improved towards halftime and it needed two fine saves from Leeds goalkeeper Neil Sullivan to deny Joey Gudjonsson and David Connolly.
Two minutes after the break, Leicester scored when Leeds failed to clear a Keith Gillespie corner and Lilian Nalis rifled the ball home.
The game hinged on two incidents inside the space of four minutes midway through the second half.
First, Deane spooned the ball over the Leicester crossbar when it looked easier to score and then Kelly dived at a Gillespie cross and headed it past his own goalkeeper.
It was the signal for many Leeds fans to head for the exit gates, those who stayed sat and suffered.
From the lofty heights of a Champions League semi-final to the possibility of relegation to League One in just three years. What has already been a frightening decline may not yet be over.
Leeds United: Sullivan; Kelly, Carlisle (Joachim 77), Butler, Kilgallon (McMaster 83); Wright, Gregan, Walton; Oster (Richardson 66), Healy; Deane.
Leicester City: Taylor; Makin, Dublin, Dabizas, Stewart; Gillespie (Blake 84), Gemmill (Williams 89), Nalis, Gudjonsson; Scowcroft, Connelly (Morris 80).
Referee: U Rennie (Sheffield)
Leeds Man of the Match: Healy

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