EVERGREEN ROB RELIVES HIS GLORY YEARS TO KEEP OUT R'S
Stopper seals a point on big day
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.”
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