Wood’s header sees off the Rams

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Kevin Fuller

LEEDS United have en­dured their fair share of tri­als and tribu­la­tions over the last 13 years, but Garry Monk was quick to pay trib­ute to the El­land Road faith­ful as vic­tory over Derby County on Fri­day saw the Whites climb to third place in the Cham­pi­onship.

Chris Wood’s header on the stroke of half-time – his 17th goal of the sea­son – was enough to gift the Whites all three points as they con­tinue their hunt for top-flight foot­ball for the first time since 2004.

The York­shire out­fit could have had more goals but for their profli­gacy in front of Scott Car­son, with the vis­i­tors see­ing Bradley John­son sent off in the clos­ing min­utes for a sec­ond yel­low card.

But for Monk, Fri­day’s roofrais­ing per­for­mance was ex­actly what he wanted to see as his young play­ers con­tinue to im­press.

“There was a lot of talk be­fore the game about the league and putting dis­tance be­tween Derby, but the most im­por­tant thing was the three points,” said boss Monk.

“I chal­lenged the play­ers to put ev­ery­thing we have been work­ing for and the val­ues we have and I wanted them to put it on the pitch, in front of the cam­eras, for them­selves, against a very good op­po­si­tion.

“We did that from start to fin­ish and I am very proud of the play­ers, it is an im­por­tant three points.

“These young play­ers are get­ting a dif­fer­ent test in ev­ery game and they are com­ing through them, we are get­ting better and better with each match. The fans were fan­tas­tic , the at­mos­phere was un­be­liev­able and that is what I love about this ground.

“It is an old school, at­mo­spheric ground which re­ally cre­ates a buzz, a mas­sive sound and it re­ally pushes the play­ers to the limit, ev­ery­body did this to­gether.

“The sup­port­ers can see how com­mit­ted the play­ers are on the pitch, we want El­land Road to be a fortress and at this mo­ment in time, it is.”

Leeds saw first-half chances aplenty squan­dered, in­clud­ing a golden op­por­tu­nity for Kyle Bart­ley, be­fore Wood met a Her­nan­dez cor­ner to break the dead­lock. The Rams saw a Dar­ren Bent goal ruled out for handball af­ter the break, be­fore Car­son kept his side in it with a string of fine saves against his for­mer club.

When ex-Whites mid­fielder John­son was sent for an early bath in the 89th minute for hack­ing down Stuart Dal­las, in­cur­ring his sec­ond book­ing of the game, it marked the end of a mis­er­able night for the vis­i­tors.

And, just a week af­ter Derby’s 2-1 FA Cup vic­tory over Premier League West Brom, boss Steve McClaren was left lost for words by his side’s turn in form as they failed to climb back into the play-off po­si­tions.

“As eu­phoric as it was at West Bromwich Al­bion last week­end, this was the other end of the scale,” McClaren said.

“Against West Brom we had to com­pete and fight against a phys­i­cal team and we needed to do the same in this one, but we didn’t do that.

“We didn’t start well, lost the bat­tle in mid­field and in the end Leeds dom­i­nated and de­served the win.

“If you don’t get it right in the be­gin­ning then it can be a dif­fi­cult night. That was the same team that won at West Brom and you ex­pect the same stan­dard, how­ever we didn’t get that.”

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Images

LICK­ING GOOD: Chris Wood cel­e­brates scor­ing Leeds’ win­ner, in­set

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