London (AFP) – Leeds United manager Marcelo Bielsa said his side were now better placed to cope with the pressure of pushing for promotion to the Premier League after a much-needed win over Bristol City on Saturday.
Luke Ayling’s goal against his former club was good enough to give Leeds all three points as the fallen English giants enjoyed just their second win in seven league matches.
Victory moved Leeds to within four points of Championship leaders West Bromwich Albion.
Only the top two at the end of the regular season in the second-tier Championship are guaranteed promotion.
Leeds, last crowned champions of England in 1992, have endured a 16-year exile from the top flight.
They squandered automatic promotion late last season and then missed out on the third and final promotion place following a defeat in the play-off semi-finals.
– ‘More resources’ –
But Bielsa insisted Leeds were a better side for having suffered those disappointments.
“We are now experienced in every type of situation in the Championship,” he said.
“I feel we have more resources to manage the different kinds of matches.”
The veteran Argentinian manager added, however: “But I cannot forget this season we were winning 3-0 and drew the match (against Cardiff).
“This was a fair win. We attacked well, we missed a lot of chances.”
Victory was made all the better for Leeds by the fact it helped them open up a three-point lead over third-placed Fulham, who suffered a shock 3-0 loss at home to bottom-of-the-table Barnsley.
Cauley Woodrow opened the scoring against former club Fulham with a 24th-minute penalty before Jacob Brown and Woodrow again were on target at Craven Cottage as Barnsley secured a first win in five league matches.
West Brom saw their lead trimmed after they were held to a 2-2 draw by Midlands rivals Nottingham Forest.
– ‘Patterns, focus, energy’ –
Matty Cash’s added-time equaliser saw Forest secure a draw at The Hawthorns after West Brom had twice led through Callum Robinson and a Tobias Figueiredo own-goal.
But Kyle Bartley’s own-goal and Cash’s late effort saw Forest to a draw.
West Brom manager Slaven Bilic refused to be downhearted, saying: “I told the guys I’m going to be disappointed and they’re frustrated, but if we continue like this, with the same patterns, focus, energy and quality, then we really have a good chance to do what we want to do.”
Brentford moved above Forest into fourth place on goal difference a 1-1 draw at Birmingham.
Blackburn closed to within three points of the play-offs thanks a 2-0 win over Charlton
Elsewhere, Queens Park Rangers came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at home to Stoke.
Derby were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Huddersfield while Millwall won 1-0 at Preston.
But Sheffield Wednesday remained without a win since Christmas after going down 3-0 at home to Reading. The beaten Owls finished with 10 men after Osaze Urhoghide collected the team’s fifth red card of the season for two bookable offences.
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