Leeds United's most trusted ally has stabbed them in the back at their most vulnerable moment

Mateo Joseph cannot hide his disappointment after Leeds United's loss to Blackburn Rovers -Credit:Ed Sykes/Getty Images
Mateo Joseph cannot hide his disappointment after Leeds United's loss to Blackburn Rovers -Credit:Ed Sykes/Getty Images

Home form has propped up Leeds United this season yet it has abandoned them in the most painful way at the worst time. After an international break which has taken the wind out of white sails, this was a pivotal week with home comforts that were supposed to steady the ship.

The points dropped at Watford and Coventry City had turned the screw on Leeds, but the unbeaten Elland Road streak was supposed to be the crutch to stand them up. Twenty-one league opponents had passed through LS11 already this season, including the top two, and every one of them failed to beat their hosts.

With two tricky away games across five days on the horizon, these six points at Elland Road were supposed to be the bankers. Sunderland, stuck in mid-table purgatory, had nothing to play for and visited with one win in their last 11 games.

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Blackburn Rovers certainly came with survival on their mind, but they arrived on the back of a 5-0 drubbing at Bristol City and only three wins in their previous 24 games. As the bookmakers were telling everyone, this was supposed to be six from six for the hosts.

The Championship’s always going to Championship though, isn’t it? Nobody, it seems, wants to make this race for automatic promotion anything other than a nail-biter on the final day.

Leicester City go away to two relegation-threatened sides and lose 1-0 twice in three days. Like Leeds, Ipswich Town had a week of important home matches before a fortnight off due to Coventry’s FA Cup participation.

They could only deliver two points from six, which came off the back of that 1-0 loss at Norwich City a week ago. It keeps it tight and almost makes it harder to accept in West Yorkshire.

Had the top two kept on at the pace they have set throughout this season, it would have at least quickly killed any Leeds hopes. As it is, in dropping points themselves, they keep opening the door for the Whites and they keep failing to walk through it.

Even if you accept a post-international break wobble in those first three games back, simply taking the six points Leeds were predicted to get this week would now have them three points clear at the top with their title fate in their own hands. Going unbeaten at home for the season would have seemed fanciful in August, but now, with only one home match still to play, it’s incredible to think they have blinked right when they needed their fortress more than ever.

So near and yet so far.