Jerome Thomas scored one and set up a second as Leeds won for the third home match in succession. Victory over Mick McCarthy’s Ipswich lifts Neil Warnock’s men into the top half of the table and just four points away from the play-off positions.

In truth, the score line tells a more comfortable tale than reality, with Leeds having been penned back in their own half for much of the second period. With the upcoming visit of Ken Bates old pals, perhaps the players’ thoughts were elsewhere…

Thomas was a returnee to the starting eleven, having missed the Derby defeat due to hamstring trouble. Ryan Hall dropped to the bench, as did Ross McCormack who was below par at Pride Park a week ago. Judging by McCormack’s tweets on Friday, he was less than pleased to lose his place to El Hadji Diouf, but his disappointment merely shows his passion for the club and desire to play. No doubt he will get his chance to reclaim a starting berth.

Yorkshireman McCarthy brought his Tractor Boys to Elland Road on strong form, seeking a fourth win on the spin. The sight of Michael Chopra on the substitutes bench highlighted that Ipswich have a potent attacking squad. Former Blackpool striker DJ Campbell would lead the line for the visitors.

Leeds started brighter than the away side, probing and creating half chances. Thomas and Diouf, fresh from signing a new eighteen month contract, made much of the early running. Paul Green, a revelation in recent weeks, was continuing his fine form on the right of midfield.

Leeds gained the advantage halfway through the opening period, as a corner kick was headed down by Tom Lees and Thomas flicked the ball into the net with his heel. It was a cheeky finish from the on-loan West Brom man, and his first goal in the white shirt.

The lead could have doubled moments later when a Michael Tonge cross was parried by Stephen Henderson in the Ipswich goal, with David Norris’ subsequent header being cleared off the goal line. Norris would no doubt have relished netting against one of his former employers.

Though Warnock’s men were on top at this point, the visitors still posed a very real threat. Both teams were displaying artistry in attack, but frailty in defence. Leeds looked particularly vulnerable down their right hand side, where Captain Lee Peltier was frequently left exposed.

Just as Ipswich began to claw their way into the match, Leeds should have hit them with a second goal. A right-wing cross from Green found Luciano Becchio inhabiting a chasm of space inside the visitors’ penalty area, yet the ever reliable Argentinian sent a header flying over the crossbar when the sight of a bulging net appeared inevitable.

Paddy Kenny ensured that Leeds would take a slender lead into the interval, turning a fierce Carlos Edwards strike around the post.

The start of the second half brought with it a chance for Becchio to redeem himself, and he almost obliged as Henderson did well to palm away a good header.

Then, someone hit self-destruct…

For twenty minutes, Leeds imploded and seemingly forgot how to play football in a competent manner. Every pass went awry, every ball in the air was poorly contested and every Ipswich attack threatened an equaliser.

Chopra stepped off the bench, adding an extra menace for Lees and Alan Tate to contend with. Fortunately, they just about contained him.

Respite from the onslaught arrived on sixty seven minutes. A sloppy touch from a visiting defender allowed Diouf and Norris to lead a counter attack. The ball was fed to Thomas who played it across the penalty area for the oncoming Paul Green to hammer delightfully into the top corner. Leeds’ recent upturn in fortunes has coincided with the resurgence of Green, who enthusiastically celebrated his third goal in five matches.

The final stages of the match were an even affair. Michael Brown was sent on to secure the midfield, with McCormack entering the fray to ask further questions in attack.

Kenny reacted well on two occasions to maintain an unlikely clean sheet. The final whistle brought to an end a promising-yet-frequently-uncomfortable afternoon of football.

Thoughts can now turn to Wednesday night and the arrival of Benitez et al at Elland Road. Chelsea will most likely arrive in West Yorkshire as World Champions, and will hopefully return to London in the same state as Arsenal did earlier in the week.

There’s one player who has yet to get a mention in this report, as he deserves this moment of special praise. Take a bow Sam Byram. This was yet another magnificent performance from Leeds’ young defender. An international and premier league career surely awaits…

Thanks you to those who entered my ‘Predict the score’ competition on Twitter. The closest guess was from Dean Woodward (@deanlufc72), who predicted a home win by two goals. Tweet me your predictions for the Chelsea match now! – @Matt_K_Burton

  • Matthew

    Let’s be honest here, it was a good effort today, but we were playing a team that basically have the worst away defensive record in the league, we were always going to win this regardless, as Ipswich are a shadow of the team they once were.

    Beating Middlesbrough next Saturday will be our biggest challenge to come, if we can get something from this we can push forward and end this year on a high, and lets be honest here guys, we deserve a bit of good news for once in regards to the league.

    • Exiled White

      Were we always going to win this regardless? I think not. Nothing can be taken for granted in this division. Take Cardiff v Peterborough, for example. Cardiff boasting the best home form while the ‘borough are at the bottom. Who would have thought that ‘borough would come away with a victory? As we know, this is a hard division to get promoted from and beating a team near the bottom isn’t anything special. We should be beating the teams above us, not just the lower ranked teams, if we want to make the play-offs, at least. Take one game at a time and build up a good run, even if it is under Warnock. MOT

      • Matthew

        Yes we were always going to win this game regardless. We were playing against a team that has only scored 7 goals away from home in 11 games and conceded 26, while its true that they have had a reasonable run lately, they are absolutely dire away from home. We score goals, they concede goals, the math worked up and it did today. I was that confident, hell I would of said 2/3 for us and 0 to Ipswich had TSS or another of his writers did a Statistic preview for this game.

        This isn’t the same Ipswich side from last season, or the one before that(Or before that as well), they’re a poor reflection of what they used to be.

        The Posh beating the Sheep 1-2 today was more a good Cardiff side being complacent, hell we’ve had a team of underperformers most of this season, they had an off game, we’ve had a ton, we should of beaten teams like Charlton, Wednesday, Millwall no problem.

        Hell with the amount of points we’ve dropped against shit teams, we should be where Dull City are, but Dull are just lucky.

        • spellz

          I couldn’t disagree with you more Matthew your plucking stats out of the air that don’t mean nothing, what is all this talk of ipswich being a poor reflection of the team they used to be?
          I suppose we still got rio, kewell and company at elland road and we are the same team as in our glory days, times change pal get used to it, this was a great 3 points that we can build on in a unpredictable league where ipswich were heading to us having won 3 on the trot and as exiled white pointed out anyone can beat anyone.
          until we start building this team with real quality and get a renowned goalscorer who can make an impact on the promotion spots for us (come January hopefully we will) we are just any team in the championship just like ipswich as our performances have pointed out all so regularly this season.

          • Matthew

            What is this nonsense? Plucking stats out of the air? I’ve been looking at their past results, and the their overall performance for the past few seasons, including the games I’ve seen at Elland Road/Portman Road, they’re a team that has been on the decline for the past few years and in my opinion played much better against us last season. Are any of you reading what I’m saying, or are you just 2 blokes looking to argue about pointless shit? I was of course speaking of the Ipswich town Away form a few times in the above statements, they have been dire away, and with only 7 goals scored by them away, the chance of them beating us was, of course remote.

          • spellz

            I have read what you are saying I just dont see what point you are making ipswich have been on the decline for the last 2 seasons and have a poor away record so it was a definite win for us that is the gist of it, in all fairness buddy ipswichs away form reads the same as ours bar a loss, I respect they have a abysmal goal difference all I am saying is, a win is a good win in this division and we are no world beaters yet so respect every 3 points we put on the board as they are hard earned in the championship.

        • matt

          How can you say ipswich are a poor time compared to the last two seasons. They have been dire for the last two years, summed up by the dismissal of Paul Jewell. If you thought we let too many goals in last season then check out some of their scorelines from the past 2 years. Ipswich were probably up there with some of the worst teams ive seen this season. In reality, we beat a very poor side that managed roughly 2 shots on goal. Undoubtedly MM has improved them but this victory was no feat as we could quite easily go and lose to middlesborough. Anybody can beat anybody; as a leeds fan i thought that would be plainly obvious.

          • Matthew

            Because Ipswich Town has a decent enough squad but they are under performing massively, infact it was only last season where they beat us 2-1 at Portman Road and performed much better than they did yesterday, and with the return game at Elland Road we were lucky to win that game 3-1 with McCarthy going off, which changed the game completely and they pretty much rolled over.

            This is mostly why I didn’t think much of this victory, I’m happy we beat Ipswich but as I knew it would happen, it just didn’t have the same effect on me, Middlesbrough to me is more important and a team that makes me feel very nervous.

            As you can see, I’m being positive about Ipswich as a team, I have some respect there, they are a poor side compared to the last few seasons. That part is true.

    • we were also playing against the team with the worst away attacking record, with only 7 goals scored in 10 games.

  • Leeds won this at a trot and never got out of second gear tbh. This was the worst I have ever seen Becchio play and Ross should probably have come on after 60 minutes.

  • I’d sacrifice the Chelsea game any day for 3 points against Boro. With the up & down season we’ve had, it would be great being right back in the mix for the January window.