If Leeds continue to play like this for the rest of the season, it will surely not be long until they finally secure that much talked about return to the Premier League.
Up against a Blackburn side knowing this was a must-win game if they were to have any realistic hopes of reaching the play-offs this season, and such were ready to put in a big shift for their side, Leeds controlled the game perfectly, got the luck all successful sides need with of a couple of early chances, and produced the perfect response when their hosts did threaten a comeback early in the second half.
But while Leeds can saviour another step towards the promised land, for Blackburn, this will be yet another case of what might have been, with opportunities yet again coming and going for a club for whom the Championship’s top-six is looking ever more like a glass ceiling.
With both sides under pressure following disappointing results earlier in the week, it seemed as though a fast start to settle the nerves in this would be imperative, and it was Leeds who were gifted that early on.
Lewis Travis, back from a knee injury that kept him out of Blackburn’s defeat on Tuesday, took too long in possession, and was robbed by Mateusz Klich, with the Pole playing in Patrick Bamford, and the oft-maligned Leeds man made no mistake as he rolled home the opener for his 15th league goal of the season.
With Blackburn having failed to take their big chances in their last two outings, both of which ended in defeat, such an early setback will have prompted much concern for Mowbray, and it didn’t take long for those fears to be realised.
Minutes after Bamford put Leeds ahead, Joe Rothwell played Sam Gallagher in behind the Leeds defence, only for the striker – in comparison to whom Bamford’s goalscoring problems look negligible – dragged wide when one on one with Illan Meslier while looking for fifth league strike of the campaign.
Barely a minute after that, Rovers went even closer to a leveller, Rothwell again finding Gallagher, this time out on the right, and he cut inside before threading a ball through to Lewis Holtby, whose first-time effort cannoned back off the Leeds post.
Despite those let-offs, Leeds were largely in control of the game early on, putting together some lovely passing moves, and they were unlucky not to double their advantage just before the half-hour mark, when one of those passages of play found Bamford on the edge of the area, but his shot on the turn came back off the foot of the Blackburn post.
But while Rovers, and in particular the enigmatic Joe Rothwell, looked dangerous on the break, they would yet again be left to rue their missed chances just five minutes before the break, as Kalvin Phillips enhanced his reputation even further, curling a stunning free-kick from 25 yards out into the top corner of Christian Walton’s goal to double the visitor’s advantage.
If the opening to the first half was entertaining, then the start to the second was arguably even more entertaining.
Just two minutes after the restart, Blackburn looked as though they had got themselves back into the game, top scorer Adam Armstrong repeating Phillips’ trick from the first half by curling an outstanding free-kick of his own into the top corner of Meslier’s goal to put the pressure on their visitors.
Leeds however, are not league leaders for nothing, and produced an excellent response barely five minutes later.
Jack Harrison, who only moments before had combined with Luke Ayling only for the full-back to curl wide, attempted to take matters into his owns hands, working his way into the area, and while his shot was charged down by Tosin Adarabioyo, that deflection bounced to Klich on the edge of the area, with his effort squirming through a forest of legs and into the bottom corner to restore Leeds’ two-goal advantage.
After that Leeds once again took control of the game, and could have made it four through a well-worked free-kick routine, Phillips playing one down the line to Ayling, whose cross to the back post was headed narrowly wide by Ezgjan Alioski.
Free kicks were becoming something of a theme of the afternoon, and Leeds would go close with another not long after.
Blackburn ‘keeper Christian Walton was perhaps fortunate to escape with a yellow after bringing down Bamford just outside the area one on one, but the on-loan Brighton man did then do well to produce a brilliant diving save down to his left to deny Barry Douglas down to his left.
In truth however, while Cooper would flash a header wide from another free-kick, Leeds never really looked like needing a fourth to put this one to bed.
Indeed, for all Blackburn’s admirable endeavour the finishing touch they have missed so badly continued to evade them, meaning that while the top-six now looks beyond Tony Mowbray’s side for another year, for Leeds, the long-awaited return to the promised land of the Premier League looms ever closer into view, with a lead of six points over third-placed Brentford and five games to go.