Fulham fought hard for a point at Elland Road tonight – extending Leeds’ miserable league run to just one win in ten matches. The hosts were perhaps fortunate to come away unscathed after a rocket from Lewis Cook levelled matters, with the teenager firing home an unstoppable effort from 35 yards.
Former Leeds trainee Tom Cairney continued his red-hot goalscoring form, coming back to haunt his first side with a tremendously taken volley from the edge of the area. The classy midfielder took a loose clearance on his chest and volleyed a dipping volley into the net after Moussa Dembele had glanced on a cross from Luke Garbutt. The visitors had made an enterprising start with ex-Leeds favourite Ross McCormack coming close to opening the scoring – only for Sol Bamba to divert his venomous volley onto the crossbar.
The Whites should have extended their lead when an ambitious through ball from Dan Burn released Garbutt down the left flank. The full back opted to shoot – tamely at Marco Silvestri as it happened – with Dembele in the perfect position for a tap-in the centre. Fernando Amorebieta then found only the side netting from an acute angle after Leeds struggled to deal with a McCormack free kick, before the home side began to get a foothold in the game.
Bamba blazed badly over from eight yards when it seemed more straightforward to score before Tom Adeyemi went a bit closer after being played through by Cook. Perhaps frustrated by his team-mates’ poor finishing, Cook took matters into his own hands seven minutes before the break – leaving Andy Lonergan clutching at fresh air with a superb swerving finish from fully 35 yards out. Lonergan denied Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci in quick succession as the hosts finished the first half on top.
It didn’t take long for Slavisa Jokanovic to turn to his bench as the hosts remained in the front foot in the early stages of the second period. Alex Kacaniklic and Ryan Tunnicliffe helped re-establish the visitors’ presence in the middle of the park and McCormack was agonisingly close to restoring Fulham’s lead with a trademark free-kick. Substitute Stuart Dallas wasted a decent opening from fifteen yards minutes after entering the action before Kacanklic drew a fine save from Silvestri from just outside the box.
Fulham defended diligently as Leeds ramped up the pressure in the closing stages, surviving stoppage time with ten men after Amorebieta was shown a second yellow card for a senseless handball. This hard-fought point gives Jokanovic’s side a ten-point cushion above the relegation zone.
LEEDS UNITED (4-1-3-2): Silvestri; Coyle, Taylor, Bamba, Cooper; Diagouraga; Adeyemi, Mowatt (Dallas 78), L. Cook; Doukara, Antenucci (Botaka 87). Subs (not used): Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Berardi, Murphy.
BOOKED: Bamba, L. Cook.
GOAL: L. Cook (38).
FULHAM (3-4-1-2): Lonergan; Madl, Burn, Amorebieta; Fredericks (Richards 84), Garbutt (Kacaniklic 53), Baird, O’Hara (Tunnicliffe 53); Cairney; McCormack, Dembele. Subs (not used): Lewis, Stearman, Hyndman, Smith.
BOOKED: Amorebieta, Fredericks.
SENT OFF: Amorebieta (90).
GOAL: Cairney (17).
REFEREE: Kevin Wright (Cambridgeshire).