With Easter Monday’s abysmal defeat at the hands of Derby finally putting an end to any chance of Leeds reaching the play-off positions, many supporters took the opportunity to save their hard earned cash as the lowest home crowd of the season filtered into the stands (and executive boxes) of Elland Road. However, the iron-willed, resolute and devoted 19,469 would not leave disappointed as Neil Warnock’s men ran out comfortable winners with a first home victory since the half-Redfearn half-Warnock inspired last gasp win over Doncaster in February.

Warnock had made public his intention to give fringe players an opportunity to impress, and was true to his word. The starting line up featured Charlie Taylor, Robbie Rogers, Leigh Bromby and the cult (or comic) character that is Billy Paynter. Ramon Nunez and Luciano Becchio were dropped to the bench, as Paul Connolly found himself out of the squad completely.

The Whites began the match with more vigour, verve and vitality than the team has shown for some considerable time on home soil. Both Paynter and Captain Snodgrass were unfortunate not to score within the opening five minutes as Peterborough struggled to cope with the movement of Leeds’ front line.

The attacking quartet of Paynter, Snodgrass, Rogers and Ross McCormack seemed interchangeable in their positions, with Snodgrass and Rogers in particular seemingly having free reign to roam the final third. A sweet first ten minutes was soured, however, when Rogers picked up an injury and (despite the American’s best efforts to continue) he was replaced by Danny Webber. With Rogers’ first appearance for Leeds back in February being cut short by a concussion-inducing clash of heads, the USA winger must be cursing his misfortune.

As Leeds tried to adapt to the loss of Rogers, their attacking prowess temporarily waned. Peterborough began to take a stronger hold on the match and flashed a few shots wide of Andy Lonergan’s goal. The match had become an even contest and goalless first half looked likely until poor defending from Leeds allowed Joe Newell to waltz his way into the penalty area and slot Posh into the lead on thirty-seven minutes.

A recognizable feeling swept through the stadium as the away support found their voice and the home support debated how many more goals would be conceded before the final whistle.

But then… salvation. A turning point on the stroke of half-time. And from an unlikely source.

Snodgrass curled over a left-footed cross which was flapped at by Paul Jones in the Peterborough goal. The ball dropped to the feet of Billy Paynter in the six yard box and he prodded home for only his second ever Leeds United goal. The teams went down the tunnel level, which the balance of play probably reflected.

Paul Robinson replaced Charlie Taylor at the break, but there was barely time to scrutinize the change of personnel as Leeds made a blistering start to the second half. A Rory Delap style long throw from Leigh Bromby found its way to McCormack at the back post, who volleyed home.

Barely a minute later, McCormack was celebrating his second of the afternoon as he slotted into the net following good work from Webber and Clayton on the edge of the area. Leeds found themselves in uncharted territory, 3-1 up after fourty-eight minutes having scored three times in the space of five minutes of football.

With new found confidence running throughout the team, Leeds controlled proceedings from here on in and were further rewarded after seventy-three minutes as Paynter lashed home a low cross from right-back Tom Lees. Paynter had now trebled his goal tally in the white shirt and the crowd were baying for a hat-trick that wouldn’t arrive.

The remainder of the match saw Webber and Paynter squander two chances apiece, before the latter was replaced by Luciano Becchio and left the field to a rapturous ovation. Shortly afterwards, the referee brought an end to the match and the home crowd applauded a much-overdue 4-1 win.

In truth, Peterborough were poor today. Darren Ferguson continues to attempt and fail miserably to live up to his father’s reputation. But the fallibility of the opposition should not detract from a good Leeds display. The day will be remembered, of course, for Paynter’s scoring exploits, but good performances were plentiful throughout the team. Adam Clayton returned from suspension in confident fashion, O’Dea and Bromby were solid (if largely untroubled) and Ross McCormack was once again the shining light. McCormack’s brace took him two steps closer to the twenty-goal mark for the season and his all round performance reiterated his status as Leeds’ best performer in the Warnock era.

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