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