Ten-man Wigan Athletic produced the Championship result of the day with 2-1 victory at Elland Road to ease their relegation worries and dent Leeds United’s automatic promotion prospects.
Latics went down to 10 men after only 14 minutes when Cedric Kipre was harshly adjudged to have handled on the goal line, although Pablo Hernandez missed the resulting spot kick.
It looked as though it would be a long afternoon for Latics when Patrick Bamford’s sharp finish put Leeds ahead on 17 minutes but the visitors managed to reorganise and drew level just before the interval when Gavin Massey broke clear to finish with some aplomb.
A Massey header then put Latics in front on 64 minutes after good work by Sheffield United loanee Leon Clarke had set him up.
Although Leeds dominated possession and produced 36 attempts at goal the visitors weathered the second half onslaught and hung on for a vital victory in their battle for Championship survival.
Paul Cook’s team are now in 20th place in the table on level points with 19th place Reading and five points above third bottom Rotherham. Leeds meanwhile slip to third in the table on goal difference behind second placed Sheffield United.
Paul Cook made one change to the team which had drawn at home to Championship leaders Norwich City with Cedric Kipre coming in for the injured Danny Fox.
Leeds pressed from the kick off but Latics looked lively on the counter attack and Clarke headed narrowly wide on seven minutes.
But disaster struck on 14 minutes when Bamford’s goal bound effort hit Kipre in the chest but referee Scott Duncan harshly awarded a penalty and gave the big Ivorian defender a red card.
Fortunately for Latics Hernandez’s spot kick hit the post but it was not long before the hosts were ahead as Bamford swept home Luke Ayling’s cross.
Latics might have capitulated at this point but Cook re-jigged the formation and they still looked threatening on the break. They might have equalised on 22 minutes when Leeds keeper Kiko Casilla came too far out of his area and Clarke lifted the ball over the crossbar.
Leeds continued to get men forward in numbers and Latics struggled to contain them but they drew level on 44 minutes when Lee Evans put Massey in the clear and the former Leyton Orient winger smashed the ball past Casilla for the equaliser.
All level at the interval but Latics would have to be at their most committed if they were to get anything against Marcelo Bielsa’s promotion contenders.
Leeds made two changes at half time with Kemar Roofe replacing Tyler Roberts and Adam Forshaw replacing Calvin Phillips.
Roofe had a glorious opportunity to restore Leeds’ lead on 50 minutes but he headed straight at Christian Walton from the centre of the six yard box.
The miss was to prove costly as on 64 minutes the visitors silenced the home crowd with a swift counter attack. Nathan Byrne’s deep cross found Clarke and the seasoned striker rose superbly, cushioning his header to Massey who headed into the corner of the net from six yards out.
Leeds surged forward and Latics defended deeper and deeper seemingly inviting more and more pressure. Walton made some important saves and Leeds wasted good opportunities.
But Latics might have added to their lead when James clipped the crossbar with an audacious free kick and the Chelsea loanee could possibly have had a penalty when he was pushed over in the penalty area.
Latics rode their luck but for once they managed to hold on away from home for a memorable victory that could go a long way towards preserving their Championship status.