Why Leeds will feel fortunate to have a play-off semi-final lead

Leeds United emerged from their play-off semi-final first leg against Derby County with a 1-0 lead courtesy of a second half strike from Kemar Roofe.

The Whites were undoubtedly the better side at Pride Park, creating the most dangerous chances and dominating play throughout.

Yet the Yorkshire club will feel somewhat fortunate to escape from Derby with a slender advantage due to the penalty controversy that marred the match.

With around 15 minutes left to play, Jack Harrison felled Jayden Bogle in the Leeds box, sweeping the fullback’s feet from under him. The Pride Park crowd roared in anticipation, and referee Craig Pawson dutifully pointed to the spot.

But after consulting with his assistant referee, he overturned the decision and denied Derby the chance to equalise.

In matches of massive importance, such as the play-offs, refereeing decisions can make or break a side’s chances. And very rarely does an official go back on a significant penalty decision.

Although the call was extremely tight, with arguments to be made for and against the penalty, Leeds will nevertheless feel lucky to have benefitted from the referee reconsidering the situation.

With the second leg looming at Elland Road on Wednesday, the Whites are in the driving seat to advance to the play-off final. But if it weren’t for Pawson’s change of heart, Marcelo Bielsa’s team might be in a very different situation.

They might argue their performance in the match merited some good fortune, but football does not always work like that and both sides still have it all to play for.

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Author: Max Cohen