Leeds paying the penalty for rash challenges in the box

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Leeds have conceded 13 penalties this season, with two coming in the last two games, so why is this such a problem for the club?

Only Blackpool have conceded more penalties than Leeds this season, with 14 awards going against the relegated club. But can Leeds truly feel hard done by in terms of their treatment at the hands of the referee this season?

Italian defender Giuseppe Bellusci tops the table with three penalties conceded - he also has the Championship's most bookings (13) and is joint top of the red cards league with two - but Bellusci was particularly unfortunate with one penalty award. In the home game with Bournemouth in January, Bellusci was shown a straight red for fouling Callum Wilson as he ran in on goal, but replays showed the challenge was clearly outside the box. While the red card may have been justified for a professional foul, the penalty definitely wasn't. 

On that occasion justice prevailed as Yann Kermorgant missed the penalty and Leeds won 1-0, but on another occasion where Leeds felt hard done by - when ex-White Luke Varney dived to win a penalty under a challenge from Sam Byram at Blackburn - an undeserved 2-1 defeat resulted when Jordon Rhodes converted the 88th minute spot kick.

  PositionTeamPenalty ConcededAppearancesMins Played
Giuseppe Bellusci DF Leeds 3 30 2,586
Sam Byram DF Leeds 2 38 3,176
Liam Cooper DF Leeds 2 28 2,227
Lewis Cook MF Leeds 1 37 2,952
Luke Murphy MF Leeds 1 29 2,343
Jason Pearce DF Leeds 1 21 1,802
Sol Bamba DF Leeds 1 18 1,620
Stuart Taylor GK Leeds 1 2 180
Stephen Warnock DF Leeds 1 21 1,758

Despite those two obvious mistakes, few other penalties have been hotly disputed this season. Many observers claimed that Sam Byram's foul on Lloyd Isgrove in the 36th minute of Saturday's 2-1 win at Sheffield Wednesday was outside the box, and furthermore, it looked like Byram approached the ball with his back to the player unaware of him being there. Replays suggested, at least, that the foul took place in the area.

Another recent penalty against was at home to Norwich when Liam Cooper bundled over the returning Jonny Howson. The award looked soft but it was a clumsy challenge from the Leeds centre half.

Leeds have conceded five penalties at home this season - three of which have been missed, against Bournemouth, Ipswich and Norwich - and have conceded eight away from home - only one of which was missed, at Brentford.

Certainly it looks like Leeds will need to concentrate on keeping a clear head in the box as too often the points have been directly dependent on the penalties awarded, and while some Leeds fans might claim "the Football League's corrupt" in a show of defiance against football's authorities, the facts are that the majority of this season's penalty awards have been justified and Leeds need to address it.

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