Noel Whelan delivers instant verdict on Leeds display against Fulham
By Harry Sykes
Noel Whelan paid tribute to the resilience of Leeds as they scrapped their way to a 1-1 Championship draw at Fulham on Tuesday night.
Garry Monk’s side were unable to secure a third consecutive victory due to Tom Cairney equalising with a superb striker that proved to be the final kick of the match.
But Leeds consolidated their place in the play-off positions as they stretched their unbeaten league sequence to four matches.
The Yorkshire giants, roared on by 7,000 travelling fans, took the lead after just five minutes at Craven Cottage when Fulham defender Tim Ream sliced the ball into his own net.
Monk’s team dominated the early exchanges but Fulham then took control and completed hoarded first-half possession, with a remarkable 76 per cent of the play.
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The home side continued to dominate in the second period but an outstanding defensive display from the visitors helped them maintain a strong grip on the play-off spots.
Ex-Leeds striker Whelan was impressed by what he saw.
“I felt tonight, if Leeds had just held onto that 1-0 lead,” said Whelan to BBC Radio Leeds in the immediate aftermath of the match, as quoted by the BBC Leeds live match blog (Tuesday, 9.54pm). “Leeds were doing well for ten minutes in the first half but then it just became an onslaught. Fulham have an abundance of pace in the wide areas and they caused problems all night.
“But what Leeds did show was a massive work-rate to defend everything out of the game. It does feel like a loss but it was a goal worthy of an equaliser – Cairney had too much time and space to drag it onto his favoured left foot. No keeper would have saved that.”
Leeds remain fourth in the table and eight points clear of Fulham in seventh position and remain excellently placed to secure a top-six finish.
Victory for Brighton at bottom club Rotherham means Monk’s team are nine points adrift of the second automatic place.
In other Leeds team news, the club are to pounce and re-sign a 23-year-old after a £10million transfer is all but sealed.