PAUL Green’s third goal in five games sealed a 2-0 victory for Leeds United over Ipswich at Elland Road on Saturday and gave them a vital three points according to manager Neil Warnock.
With tough looking festive games against top 10 sides Middlesbrough, Nottingham Forest and Hull City to come in the league the Whites boss felt it was crucial that his team secure three points against an Ipswich side at the bottom end of the Npower championship – and he was delighted with the performance.
He said: “You could see they were full of confidence with the run they’ve had, but we did well.
“What pleased me most was that in the second half we knew Ipswich would come at us, but the back four were super. They held tight and we gradually got back into it and we got the second goal.
“I thought we deserved it and it was a good professional performance. We deserved to be more than one up at half-time.
“Although they had a good period of play in the second half until Paddy Kenny made the save with his feet towards the end I didn’t really see a threat whereas we had a good few chances to put it to bed.
“It’s a great three points because we’ve got Middlesbrough, Forest and Hull now and it’s a very difficult period. It was important to get some points on board.”
United were never at their fluent best against an Ipswich side improving since the appointment of boyhood Leeds fan Mick McCarthy as manager. But they created enough chances to win comfortably and could have been out of sight by half-time.
El Hadji Diouf, who was superb in the opening 45 minutes, had the first chance when racing onto Green’s nod down in the box, but Ipswich keeper Stephen Henderson rushed out to save at the expense of a corner from which Tom Lees headed over.
A Diouf corner did lead to the opening goal on 18 minutes when Lees’ header was flicked in by winger Thomas near the goal-line.
They almost made it two soon after when Henderson could only parry Michael Tonge’s low cross and David Norris followed up to get in a header that beat the keeper only for Aaron Cresswell to clear off the line.
Luciano Becchio was then guilty of a glaring miss when heading over from Sam Byram’s perfect cross with the goal gaping.
Becchio did better with a header from another Byram cross early in the second half, but when Henderson palmed the ball away Diouf could not keep his follow-up volley down.
Ipswich came more into the game, but struggled to create a clear cut chance and were caught on the break in the 68th minute when Norris sent Thomas clear and his low cross was expertly finished by Green from 12 yards out.
Home keeper Paddy Kenny was forced into his first real save as he kept out a near post Lee Martin shot and he then made an even better save nine minutes from time as he denied Michael Chopra with his feet when the substitute striker seemed certain to score.
But Leeds saw out the remainder comfortably to keep a clean sheet and clinch a win that kept them within four points of a play-off place.
Leeds United 2
(Thomas 18, Green 68)
Ipswich Town 0
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees, Tate, Peltier, Green, Norris, Tonge, Thomas (Brown 84), Diouf (McCormack 81), Becchio (Varney 90).
Ipswich: Henderson, Orr (Hewitt 85), Chambers, Smith, Cresswell, Edwards, Drury, N’Daw, Martin, Murphy (Emmanuel-Thomas 73), Campbell (Chopra 62).
Referee: Oliver Langford.