By Mark Walker, PA
Sam Allardyce refused to criticise Patrick Bamford after the Leeds striker’s saved penalty proved costly in Saturday’s 2-2 Premier League draw against Newcastle.
Bamford had the chance to atone for his glaring miss in last month’s home draw against Leicester and put relegation battlers Leeds 2-0 up at Elland Road.
Luke Ayling had given Allardyce’s side an early lead, but after Joelinton had hauled down Junior Firpo, Bamford’s weak spot-kick was comfortably saved by Nick Pope.
Allardyce said: “I thought he was good today. He held the ball up, he caused a few problems. He got the cross in for the (opening) goal. We were doing OK with him.
“Hopefully, like everybody needs to do when it gets a little bit better next week and better again, he scores goals when he gets a chance.
“We need goal-scorers on the pitch and also, we’ve not got that many.”
Four minutes after Bamford’s effort, Callum Wilson converted the first of his two penalties following Max Wober’s reckless challenge on Alexander Isak.
Another big moment from @Popey1992 🧤🧤 pic.twitter.com/SNAmBiJDX8
— Newcastle United FC (@NUFC) May 13, 2023
Wilson then struck his 17th league goal of the season from the spot early in the second half after VAR had referred referee Simon Hooper to the pitch-side monitor to check Firpo’s handball.
Rasmus Kristensen’s 79th-minute equaliser rescued a point for Leeds, but some fans were left angry that Bamford, low on confidence, had taken the penalty instead of leading goalscorer Rodrigo.
Allardyce added: “Well, I left it how it used to be like before I got here. I mean, I haven’t seen them take many penalties.
“It is what it is. I would have thought if Rodrigo really wanted it he’d have gone and snatched it off Patrick and said ‘I’m taking this’.
🔥 “Ayyyylinggg with the follow up!” pic.twitter.com/oXqQ0MKrIr
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 14, 2023
“So you miss it, it can happen to anybody. It happened to us today, but at the worst possible time. And that’s very unfortunate for us.”
Newcastle’s point ensured them a top-six finish and they remain on course for Champions League football next season with back-to-back home games against Brighton and Leicester to come before a last-day visit to Chelsea.
Magpies boss Eddie Howe said: “We can wait a few more days if we achieve it. It is the toughest league in the world and we knew how difficult it would be today.”
Nerves frayed on and off the pitch in a highly-charged clash at Elland Road. Firpo was sent off in the closing stages after his lunge on Anthony Gordon earned him a second yellow card.
🙌 “Vital goal! Vital goal!” pic.twitter.com/1xS5Yitou5
— Leeds United (@LUFC) May 13, 2023
And before the subsequent free-kick was taken a Leeds fan leapt from the crowd to confront Howe before being dragged clear by match stewards.
“I’m struggling to make sense of it all,” Howe added. “We hadn’t created clear-cut chances. I thought we played well at times without hitting our best form and we were rushed around the box.”
Leeds issued a statement shortly after the match to confirm the fan who confronted Howe had been arrested and issued with a lifetime ban.
West Yorkshire Police added in a statement on Sunday: “Police have charged a man with assault and entering the field of play following an incident at Elland Road football stadium during the Leeds United versus Newcastle United football match yesterday. The man has been bailed to appear before magistrates on July 21.”