Advantage Leeds United!

Jack Harrison’s second half strike secured Leeds United a vital 3 points and most importantly, the advantage over Sheffield United in the race for automatic promotion.

Earlier in the day, the Blades dropped two points at home to Millwall in dramatic circumstances. A 94th minute equaliser courtesy of Jake Cooper did not go unnoticed at Elland Road prior to kick off. News would have quickly filtered through to the players that a win for Leeds would send them 3 points clear in second place. That said, victory over a resurgent Sheffield Wednesday outfit, would be far from a foregone conclusion.

Cooper out Berardi in.

There would be an early set back for the home side even before a ball had been kicked with Captain Liam Copper pulling out of the team due to a muscular problem suffered in the warm up. Gaetano Berardi would step in alongside Pontus Jansson, a partnership made for a Yorkshire Derby you felt. Otherwise it would be the same line-up that registered a 0-2 victory away at Preston North End in midweek. Following a confidence boosting brace against the Lilywhites, Patrick Bamford once again led the line.

Westwood Circa 2008.

Certain fans that are able or indeed willing to cast their minds back to the League One playoff semi final against Carlisle will have recalled a young Keiren Westwood playing out of his skin. The venue once again Elland Road and the stakes just as high, if not higher than that of eleven years prior. It would seem the Sheffield Wednesday and Ireland Keeper saves his best performances for games this fixture. United could and should have been home and hosed by half time, but for Westwood’s heroics, certainly would haven been. An absolutely World Class stop from Tyler Roberts at close range left most scratching their heads in disbelief. How on earth did he keep that out? With the Owls back line not able to get a handle on the fluidity of movement and creativity of Leeds, it was Westwood to the rescue twice more denying Roberts and Harrison as United dominated the first half. There were one or two scares on the break with Hooper and Bannan both close to breaking the deadlock for the visitors.

Atmosphere.

At times the atmosphere was tense, at times it was nervy as the Elland Road capacity crowd bit their collective nails and as chances went begging. The players were showing no such nerves as they picked up from where they left off early in the second half. Kalvin Phillips was revelling in the holding midfield role, breaking up play and starting attacks at will. Tyler Roberts was looking every bit a number 10, dropping deep and playing between the lines. A chorus of “We are the Champions, Champions of Europe” appeared to galvanise Bielsa’s men. Again it was Roberts who found Hernandez out wide. His low ball through the defenders legs found the on-rushing Harrison. With a neat flick into the bottom corner, passed the outstretched Westwood, Leeds had the all important breakthrough that their play had merited.

We don’t lose from here.

As we all know when Leeds score first, that’s it game over. Although I’m sure we would have liked another goal or two, Leeds have not lost a league game this season when scoring first. In truth Wednesday were no match for a dominant Leeds United:

The intensity they played at, we found it a struggle at times. We had a couple of chances but if I’m brutally honest the better team won.

Steve Bruce reflects on a defeat that realistically ends their slim playoff hopes.

4 to go.

Leeds United are now in pole position with 4 games to go. The last 4 games, 3 against sides in the bottom half of the table including already relegated Ipswich Town. On paper at least, an easier run in than rivals Sheffield United who face two top half teams in Nottingham Forest and Hull City. Ten points will guarantee promotion, yet 90 points has historically been good enough to clinch promotion, so 8 points (two wins and two draws) should be enough to get over the line. With Norwich drawing against Wigan on Sunday, the gap to top spot is just 4 points. Victory at home to the Lactics would see that reduce to just a point, at least temporarily with Norwich taking on Sheffield Wednesday in the late kick off.

It’s not time to pop the Champagne just yet, but Leeds United are in the box seat and are showing no signs of giving that up.

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Howard Matthews

Brilliant article, thanks, Gavin