The notion of a draw in the Premier League being a good or bad result usually depends on which side of the fence you sit and where your season is heading.
But here, as both the Leeds and Brighton players received deserved applause from their supporters after an entertaining draw at Elland Road, this had the distinct feeling of a missed opportunity for both sides.
Make no mistake, Leeds would probably look upon a point against a Brighton side chasing European football as a good result in isolation. But on a day when two of the sides around them won to drop Javi Gracia’s side into the Premier League’s bottom three, coupled with the fact Leeds had their chances to take all three points, this might be an afternoon some supporters look back on as frustrating.
“If you’d asked me before the game I would tell you we were looking for the three points, but after the game, we have to value the point,” the Leeds coach, Gracia, said. “In a game when we were behind twice, it’s good for us to take a point but at the same time we’re really disappointed as well. We were deserving of at least one point.”
Brighton, who also had chances to secure victory and enhance their quest to take Roberto De Zerbi’s eye-catching brand of football on to the continent next season, may see this as two points dropped given that they led twice only to be pulled back by magnificent strikes by Patrick Bamford and Jack Harrison.
In the end, this was probably a fair outcome: even if it doesn’t do a great deal for the end-of-season goals both these sides possess. De Zerbi, much like Gracia, felt it was a result his side could have improved upon.
“I think we lost two points today,” he said. “We played very well against a good team and I’m sorry for the result. But for the quality of play and the performance of my players, I’m really pleased.”
De Zerbi would have scarcely believed his side were only level at half-time. After a one-sided opening half-hour in West Yorkshire it came as little surprise when Brighton took the lead, as Kaoru Mitoma headed the ball perfectly into the path of Alexis MacAllister, who scored for the second consecutive game.
With Leeds frequently standing off Brighton and the Elland Road crowd turning, Gracia needed a response.
How he got it when Bamford’s speculative strike from outside the box looped past Jason Steele five minutes before the break, in a moment which seemed to shift the momentum of the afternoon.
The hosts then started much the better of the two sides after the restart with both Brenden Aaronson and Luke Ayling having chances to put Leeds ahead.
Brighton then made them pay as a cross into the Leeds box caused chaos and, under pressure from Solly March, Harrison turned into his own net.The goal, however, was given to the Brighton man afterwards.
However, the winger made amends with 10 minutes to go as he curled an effort past Steele from the edge of the area – though Brighton and De Zerbi felt the goal should have been disallowed given there appeared to be two balls on the pitch following a quick corner by Wilfried Gnonto.Sense prevailed in the end.
However, the goal stood and the points were ultimately shared. So in the end, a point which both sides could look back on as important come the end of the season, but in the immediate aftermath here this did feel like a game that was there for the taking for both. Time will tell how big a missed opportunity it proves to be.