Stop­per seals a point on big day

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Chris Dunlavy

ROB Green marked his 600th pro­fes­sional game with a match-sav­ing stop as off-colour Leeds hung on for point.

Green, who has 12 caps for Eng­land, made his de­but for Nor­wich in April 1999 and at 37 is ap­proach­ing the end of a dis­tin­guished ca­reer.

But he has played ev­ery minute of the sea­son for the Whites and again proved his worth with a light­ning lunge off his line to deny the clean-through Conor Wash­ing­ton.

It was just one of sev­eral chances made and missed by the in-form vis­i­tors, and left boss Garry Monk grate­ful to the man he signed from Lof­tus Road in the sum­mer.

“It was a very good save, one on one, and at a very im­por­tant time,” said the Leeds boss, just 13 months older than his stop­per.

“It’s a fan­tas­tic achieve­ment for Rob to reach 600 games. Not many play­ers do. We’re all very proud of that, for him and his fam­ily.

“But he’d be the first to tell you that’s what he’s there for. He’s very fo­cussed and I’m sure he’d be hap­pier if he got to 609 with­out los­ing.”

If that is to be the case, Leeds will have to up their game con­sid­er­ably for the run-in. With the ex­cep­tion of a fran­tic fi­nal 15 min­utes, the vis­i­tors showed far greater ur­gency and in­ci­sive­ness, their mid­field pair of Luke Free­man and Massimo Luongo seem­ingly able to slice through the Whites at will. Wash­ing­ton – who was oth­er­wise ex­cel­lent – spurned a host of chances, first miss­ing Luongo’s far-post cross, then be­ing thwarted by Green be­fore smash­ing wide from 12 yards with the goal at his mercy. Leeds, by con­trast, failed to reg­is­ter a sin­gle shot on tar­get, stymied by QPR’s dis­ci­plined re­fusal to press any higher than the half­way line.

Usu­ally so ef­fec­tive on the counter-at­tack, the lack of space gave the likes of Pablo Her­nan­dez and Ke­mar Roofe no room to op­er­ate and de­nied top-scorer Chris Wood the decoy run­ners he craves. As in the 2-0 de­feat to Cardiff here, Leeds had no an­swers.

“No ex­cuses,” added Monk. “We never did enough in that game to win. We were be­low our usual high stan­dards. That’s not through any lack of ef­fort or mo­ti­va­tion. It just didn’t hap­pen.”

Con­sid­er­ing Ian Hol­loway turned over 18 play­ers in Jan­uary, his side’s co­he­sion is hugely im­pres­sive and hope­fully a marker of what is to come next sea­son.

The veteran boss – 54 to­day – says Leeds’ resur­gence un­der Monk is a blue­print for his side

to fol­low and even tipped the Whites to chal­lenge Brighton and New­cas­tle at the top of the ta­ble.

“They’ve got enough games left,” he said.

“And any­thing can hap­pen now, es­pe­cially if you have a wob­ble at the wrong time. It’s all about get­ting a bit of mo­men­tum or good for­tune.

“Any­body can beat any­body. That’s the truth. It’s such a won­der­ful com­pe­ti­tion – un­like the Pre­mier League. It looks that way and they all talk about it, but is it re­ally? “West Brom have had their best sea­son ever but are they ever go­ing to win any­thing? I’ve been there and it sucks. You’ve got Chelsea away. Liverpool, Arsenal. You ain’t win­ning those. The top six more less pick them­selves ev­ery year – how bor­ing is that? “To try and break into it, you need ten or 15 years. Let’s see if Leeds can do it – and let me tell you I’m go­ing to be an avid watcher.

“It’s been a great day for me and I’m proud of my team. But it was also nice to see Leeds buzzing. I un­der­stand how hard it is for Mr Monk to keep ev­ery­one fo­cussed but he’s done it bril­liantly, so good luck to him.

“What Leeds are now is what I’m try­ing to make us. I want to be the one to take us back to a lit­tle bit of fame.”

PIC­TURE: Ac­tion Im­ages

POINT MADE: QPR’S Grant Hall and Leeds United's Chris Wood bat­tle for the ball and in­set, and in­set, ' Luke Free­man and Pablo Her­nan­dez meet in an­other tus­sle

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