It was fitting for Leeds United this past weekend that homegrown talent and Leeds supporter, Kalvin Phillips, got the winner against Birmingham City.
In a far from vintage display by Marcelo Bielsa’s men, the Whites proved they could win scrappily thanks to Phillips’ 65th-minute winner, a goal which capped off a weekend of centenary celebrations for the West Yorkshire club.
Despite Leeds not being at their best and defensively allowing Birmingham plenty of half-chances and attempts at goal, it was the sort of win that teams looking to win promotion often revel in.
It’s all well and good picking up three points when you are playing well and putting in eye-catching displays, but titles and promotions are won in picking up points when things aren’t going so well and Leeds demonstrated they are up to the fight with this win.
We saw it over the weekend in other games, as the likes of Nottingham Forest lost out to Wigan Athletic. The Reds, nowhere near their best at the DW Stadium, couldn’t get anything from the game and ultimately found themselves unable to muster anything from the game.
While the Championship is a league where everyone can beat anyone on a given day, Leeds’ win over Birmingham was a clear demonstration of their resilience and attitude towards ensuring they get three points.
Last season’s late heartbreak will no doubt be playing on the mind of some of their players and it was clear to see when Phillips fired in, just how much the win meant to the players.
This season more than ever is looking like being a close-run affair when it comes to promotion, meaning it might be more important than in previous years to keep picking up those valuable points. Despite being only 12 games into the season, just six points split 10th and 1st in the table, highlighting just how tight the Championship could end up being this term.
Norwich were always galloping away with it last year, while Wolves did it a few years ago, essentially leaving just the one automatic promotion spot up for grabs. That’s not going to be the case this season looking at the early season form, which makes Leeds’ latest win look all the more important.
We saw the capitulation at the end of last season when Leeds threw promotion away to rivals Sheffield United. That cannot happen again this year and all the signs on Saturday pointed to them having learnt their lesson somewhat.
Putting yourself in a position to be able to drop points when the pressure gets cranked up at the back-end of the season could be the difference between going up and not by the time May comes around.
Performances, then, like Saturday’s, are going to be so telling when it comes to deciding those all-important promotion places.