Wood strikes late as Leeds deny Newcastle
Chris Wood struck deep into injury time to slow Newcastle’s promotion drive as Leeds escaped from St James’ Park with a point.
Wood stabbed home his 25th goal of the Sky Bet Championship season five minutes into stoppage time to snatch a 1-1 draw just as it looked as though Jamaal Lascelles’ 67th-minute header had taken the Magpies to the brink of an instant promotion back to the Premier League.
Rafael Benitez’s men are eight points ahead of third-placed Huddersfield with four games remaining – the Tykes have one in hand – but are now four points adrift of leaders Brighton, while Leeds have strengthened their grip on a play-off berth.
Leeds hit the bar early on, but it was Newcastle who dominated with visiting keeper Rob Green producing a series of fine saves to keep them at bay, although it was Wood who ruined the night for the bulk of a crowd of 52,301.
The visitors started the brighter and went desperately close to the opening goal with just nine minutes gone after the home side failed to deal with a Pablo Hernandez free-kick.
The Spaniard was allowed to play the ball into the penalty area for a second time and when it fell to midfielder Alfonso Pedraza, he rattled the underside of the crossbar with beaten keeper Karl Darlow recovering in time to turn away Kemar Roofe’s follow-up header from point-blank range.
Green was called upon for the first time six minutes later to block Matt Ritchie’s shot from a tight angle with a foot, but he was extended much further to keep out Jonjo Shelvey’s inswinging 25th-minute corner at the near post.
The Leeds keeper needed the help of the post four minutes before the break when Yoan Gouffran robbed Hernandez and fired against the upright, but he produced a fine reaction save to deny defender Chancel Mbemba from the resulting corner.
Defender Pontus Jansson had to be on his toes to deny Aleksandar Mitrovic after had beaten Green to a 64th-minute back-pass and prodded the ball towards goal, but the Serbia international played a key role as the home side took the lead three minutes later.
He headed Gouffran’s deep cross back across goal for Lascelles to climb highest and direct the ball across the line.
Green saved superbly from Ayoze Perez’s clever flick but Wood struck deep into injury-time, turning home Roofe’s curling cross from close range to snatch a point.