MONK’S MEN ARE ON THE CHARGE...
Wood’s header sees off the Rams
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.”
LICKING GOOD: Chris Wood celebrates scoring Leeds’ winner, inset