Noel Whelan delivers verdict on Leeds display against Sheffield Wednesday
By Alex Stevens
Noel Whelan has hailed Leeds’ “shattered” players for their herculean efforts to overcome Sheffield Wednesday in their landmark 1-0 triumph.
A first-half Chris Wood goal was enough to secure the three Championship points for Garry Monk’s side, who were also thankful to Rob Green for his brilliant penalty save to deny Jordan Rhodes.
Leeds created few chances and were hardly fluent against big-spending Wednesday but Whelan was impressed by their fortitude and ability to deliver when it mattered.
“It’s about defining moments – it’s penalty saves, one chance for Chris Wood, that turn games,” said Whelan to BBC Radio Leeds, as quoted by the BBC Leeds live match blog (Saturday, 2.29pm). “Leeds were not going to concede and were going to see this game out.
“They had to defend it, and didn’t they just. They had to battle today, but Monk has probably found out a lot about what his players have and the lengths they will go to to win.
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“When that final whistle went, Leeds’ players just flopped to the ground. They were so shattered.”
Whelan recognised that Wednesday pushed the home side to the maximum in a cauldron-like atmosphere at Elland Road and there were some tense moments as they held on to the lead.
“I did get nervous, because Leeds were giving the ball away in dangerous areas to dangerous players,” the former Leeds striker added to BBC Radio Leeds. “Sheffield’s three-man press was effective, and we have seen Leeds giving the ball away like that before at times this season.
“But you do have to cross off the monkeys on your back if you want a successful season – and Leeds have done that today.”
Leeds’ win lifted them above Reading, who face Brighton on Saturday evening, and into fourth position in the Championship table.
Crucially, Garry Monk’s side are now eight points clear of Fulham in seventh as they consolidate their place in the play-off positions.
Leeds have accumulated a tally of 61 points from 34 Championship matches this season and are only eight adrift of leaders Newcastle.