LEEDS United head for the first international break happy with their work so far as they stand in seventh place in the Npower Championship and have earned a potentially lucrative third round Capital One Cup tie at home to Everton, writes Tony Harber.
Two wins, a draw and a defeat so far represents a decent start especially as the Whites were handed a tough start with games already against two of the sides that have come down from the Premiership and a match against a Blackpool side likely to finish in the top six.
After the Whites had won their first three games at Elland Road, their 100 per cent home record was surrendered when they were held to a 3-3 draw by Blackburn Rovers last Saturday. But they could take plenty of positives from the game and the way they battled back from being outplayed initially to bombard their big-spending opponents and ultimately be disappointed to only claim a point.
El Hadji Diouf, confirmed to have signed a contract to stay at Leeds until January, began the comeback with a scrappy goal just before half-time, Ross McCormack with a great strike equalised and Luciano Becchio, with his fifth goal in five games, put United in front only for Ruben Rochina’s clever back heel six minutes from time to give Rovers a draw.
Even then Leeds could have snatched it in the last of five minutes of injury-time when Diouf fired over with only former United keeper Paul Robinson to beat.
Whites boss Neil Warnock agreed it had been a real rollercoaster of a game and was delighted with the spirit shown by his players.
He said: “It’s why I’m in the game for games like that. The crowd was amazing, the noise was incredible and at 2-1 I thought the fans were almost shoving it in the net.
“Everybody gave everything. What a good advert for the Championship.
“I am so proud of my team for battling back from two down. We were playing against a team who’ve just spent whatever they have and you look at their bench.
“But the Championship’s a league I enjoy and I should have been here all my life. It doesn’t matter how much money you’ve got if you have a genuine bunch you can win games.
“At 2-0 down and then to keep going like we did and get the goal back just before half-time was super. We decided to have a go at half-time, stop worrying about them and in the second half we were spot on.”
Leeds now have a week off before returning to action in the next section of the season that will bring seven games in 22 days, including tough looking contests with Cardiff and Nottingham Forest and the Everton cup tie.