Facing off against Millwall, who are currently in the relegation zone, Leeds United cruised to a 1-0 victory on Saturday. In the early stages of the match, Sam Byram, Luke Murphy, and Lewis Cook were especially lively in the offensive third.
It was Byram who conjured up the game's first great chance when he narrowly side-footed a Charlie Taylor cross wide in the 8th minute. Despite narrowly missing, Leeds pushed onwards and their efforts were rewarded in the 39th minute by the brilliant left boot of Alex Mowatt. The 20-year-old lined up to take a free kick from the right side of goal and, with the help of a slight deflection, bent home a tantalizing effort past David Forde.
As the match wore on, Leeds allowed Millwall to work their way back some and Marco Silvestri was forced into action on several occasions. However, penalty shouts from Rodolph Austin and Mowatt, a narrow miss from Steve Morison, and a fine strike from Byram could not surmount to Leeds' tallying a second.
With fortune on the White's side, it was all that was needed for Leeds to gain all three points from the Lions at Elland Road. Below are some of the key takeaways from the contest.
Mowatt Regains Form: In recent weeks, the academy product has bobbed in and out of Neil Redfearn's lineup. Undeterred by this frustrating pattern of minutes, Mowatt forced his way back into the squad on Saturday and greatly rewarded the gaffer's loyalty. He was lively throughout his 90 minutes on the field and probably earned Leeds' a spot-kick, but Paul Tierney adjudged that the Mowatt dove. His best moment came in the 39th minute when he brilliantly curled home a free kick game-winner past Forde. It sealed all three points for Leeds and pushed the Whites up the table to 12th place.
Morison Proves His Worth: To the surprise of many Leeds' supporters, Morison has been spear-heading the Whites' attack over the last six weeks or so. While the big-man has been unable to find the back of the net against Millwall, he proved why Redfearn has been handing him start after start. He set up an acrobatic effort for Austin in the first-half, shot narrowly wide from a tough angle in the second half, and in the game's dying stages had a sure goal blocked by a Millwall defender. Surely one will go in soon for the 31-year-old striker, but his overall link-up play has been massive for Leeds lately.
Redfearn admits Morison "needs one to go in off his backside" but adds: "He's a big plus for us. He was excellent today." #lufc— Leeds United FC (@LUFC) February 14, 2015
Another Clean Sheet: Mowatt's goal will understandably be the talk of the town, but the fact Leeds' kept another clean sheet is massively important. With Sol Bamba and Giuseppe Bellusci marshalling the back-line, Marco Silvestri's job was made relatively easy on Saturday. The Italian's only save came in the 14th minute against Stefan Maierhofer and the back-four made eight interceptions, blocked three shots, and cleared the ball 24 times. If the defense can keep up this form, Leeds' charge up the table can go much higher than 12th place.