Leeds United hit the road as they look to cash in on big win

Chris Wood scores the winning goal for Leeds United against Sheffield Wednesday.
Chris Wood scores the winning goal for Leeds United against Sheffield Wednesday.

Having come through their big test against promotion rivals Sheffield Wednesday it is onto back to back away games now for Leeds United as they look to cement their place in the EFL Championship play-off places.

The 1-0 success against the Owls kept United ahead of them in the league and the importance of the victory could be seen in that they now have a three-point advantage over Wednesday as well as a better goal difference.

The win also lifted the Whites above Reading into fourth place and crucially they now have an eight-point cushion ahead of Fulham in seventh place, although the Londoners do have a game in hand and they are Leeds’ opponents next week.

Next Tuesday’s game at Craven Cottage is shaping up to be one of the most important left for United this season with Fulham currently the team in the best form of those just outside the play-off spots.

They play some quality passing football and will offer a big threat with many Leeds fans rating them as possibly the best visiting side to come to Elland Road this season when they played there back in August and were unlucky only to draw.

United got what could turn out to be a valuable point that night when Chris Wood scored an equaliser deep into stoppage time to give them a 1-1 draw they had scarcely looked like achieving after former Leeds junior Tom Cairney had scored for the visitors.

Cairney has developed into a top notch number 10 and carries probably Fulham’s biggest threat as he has scored three times against United.

He admitted to being extra motivated when playing against the Whites, saying: “What happened does motivate me.

“I had been there from the age of seven. I gave a lot to the club, but I was tiny and struggling. My parents were telling them, ‘He just needs time to grow and everything will catch up’ but they released me. I must admit, I shed a tear. It hurt for a long time.

“I went from Leeds academy to Hull, which was a complete reality check. I wasn’t playing against teams like Manchester United at youth level any more, but it turned into a blessing in disguise. I made my Premier League debut a couple of years later with Hull.

“As for Leeds, I have scored on my last three visits there.”

Before thinking about Fulham, Monk’s men must concentrate on another away game first this Friday night when they go to Birmingham City.

Down in 14th place, they have had a mixed season and have suffered since the surprise sacking of manager Gary Rowett with his successor, Gianfranco Zola, having a tough time.

He enjoyed his second win as manager, however, last Saturday after only one success in the previous 12 matches so it could be a rejuvenated team the Whites are up against and they do not have a great recent record against Birmingham.

Leeds could have left-back Charlie Taylor back for the game after head coach Garry Monk confirmed he had returned to full training. Whether he earns selection over Gaetano Berardi, who has done a good job in his absence, will be a tricky decision, however.

Monk, meanwhile, is continuing to do sound out the one game at a time message despite the importance of the win over Sheffield Wednesday.

He said: “We are all aware of where we are in the league, but we can only focus on the next three points.

“There is still a lot of football still to play this season, we are in a good position and doing well, but we can’t take our eye off the ball now.”