By George Overhill

8th May, 2022 | 4:40pm

BBC pundit Steve Warnock demolishes Leeds United's Luke Ayling for incident in Arsenal defeat

BBC pundit Steven Warnock was scathing in his rebuke of Leeds United defender Luke Ayling for his red card in the defeat to Arsenal.

The Whites veteran was shown a straight red in the 27th-minute for a reckless two-footed challenge on Gabriel Martinelli which forced the Whites to attempt to come back from 2-0 down with 10 men.

A mistake from Illan Meslier had led to one of Eddie Nketiah’s early double, and although Diego Llorente pulled one back the damage had already been done, leaving United in the relegation zone, and Warnock couldn’t believe what he’d seen.

Speaking on BBC Radio 5 Live, via the BBC Sport liveblog he said (8 May, 2.32pm): “We all get frustrated, we understand your getting outplayed at the Emirates, you haven’t had a kick of the ball.

“Martinelli is on fire he’s got the run of you but it’s in the corner flag, why make the challenge, why give the referee the opportunity to send you off?

“It’s just ridiculous from Luke Ayling.”

He then followed up minutes later (2.40pm) with: “Luke Ayling has let the club down, he’s let his fans down, the team mates down.

“Imagine what Joe Gelhardt is thinking, third start of the season and he gets dragged off because of a senior player being stupid.

“It’s beyond me. We all make mistakes but at this stage of the season when you need a togetherness and you need all your players especially with the injury record that Leeds have got.”

Why?

This was such a crucial game after last weekend’s action had so decisively gone against the club.

Burnley’s Saturday defeat had opened the door to restore some confidence for the final games, but it was all thrown away so early.

Ayling has been such a key part of the growth of this side in recent years he must know more than most what was at stake.

Sheer frustration boiled over, but that was no excuse to launch himself into a challenge that would risk a red card anywhere on the pitch, which was completely pointless when over on the touchline.

That it took a VAR review to upgrade it from a yellow card is the only surprise at the result of it.

And Warnock is right that the likes of Gelhardt will be exasperated in response, with him especially having had to wait for his chance thanks to injury and the perseverance with Dan James.

The fans are rightly behind this team, and a sloppy error can maybe be forgiven, but something deliberate having such a disastrous effect is another matter.

In other Leeds United news, Gabby Agbonlahor said the club’s fans were “annoying” ahead of the game.