Neil Redfearn's squad returned to the friendly confines of Elland Road on Saturday afternoon and drew a surging Birmingham City side by a score of 1-1. It was Birmingham who jumped out on the front foot early in the match, despite the fact that quality chances fell to Rodolph Austin and Steve Morison in the opening stages.
In the 8th minute, Birmingham striker Clayton Donaldson attempted to take on center-back Liam Cooper in the penalty area, but a wayward Cooper leg saw Donaldson clatter to the ground. The linesman consequently waved for a penalty and Paul Caddis cooly fired home past an outstretched Marco Silvestri to put the away side in front.
As the first half wore on Leeds and Birmingham both struggled to create chances, but the best opportunities fell to the away side. The 4-4-2 formation that the squad took on resulted in several eager and disjointed attacks, but Birmingham was able to work the ball forward with far too much ease.
When the teams came back onto the pitch for the second half Leeds showed an increased sign of life and urgency. Morison in particular started to win knockdowns for his strike partner Mirco Antenucci, and Luke Murphy started to boos the center of the park with his inspired form.
The first enticing opportunity fell to Morison in the 52nd minute when he headed off the post, and from there on out Leeds largely parked themselves in their opponent's half. Birmingham were forced to attack on the counter and the Whites rallied behind the energy of the 23,534 fans in attendance to push on for an equalizer.
As the Whites' efforts persisted several penalty shouts came to fruition and Redfearn's side will surely feel hard-done to not earn a spot kick of their own. Even though the claims were turned aside by the referee, Leeds continued to search for a goal of their own.
Leeds' efforts eventually payed off in the 86th minute when Murphy, who put in a man-of-the-match performance, deservedly smashed home a loose clearance from the Birmingham defense to send the Elland Road crowd into pure delirium. With a late equalizer secured, Leeds pushed on for the victory, but their efforts only went so far.
Murphy's tally proved to be the last significant moment of the match and the two sides were forced to settle for a point apiece. Looking back on the match, Leeds put in another determined and committed display and it would have been cruel if Birmingham returned home as victors. Birmingham manager Gary Rowett expressed these sentiments in his post-match comments: "[Leeds] had the better chances, clearer-cut chances. We were quite fortunate to be 1-0 up."
A silver lining in the hard-earned point is that Leeds has now added to their narrow cushion above the relegation zone. Millwall, who sits one spot below Leeds United in a relegation position, lost to Ipswich by a score of 3-1. When combined with Leeds' result, Millwall now sits on 23 points, whereas Leeds sits on 26 points.
A major reason for this is the renewed spirit that Leeds has been playing with. Without it Leeds would have surely not earned some breathing room at the bottom of the table and a point against an in-form Birmingham side. Redfearn is also starting to get more out of his side and Leeds can rest easy knowing that chances are being created and the results will come.