Leeds United stole a march on rivals in the promotion race, courtesy of a 1-0 win at Bristol City on Friday night.

The hard-fought victory, thanks to Wilfried Gnonto’s early second-half strike, catapulted the Whites to second in the Championship table, leapfrogging Southampton and Ipswich Town in the process.

The race for automatic promotion is shaping up nicely and Daniel Farke’s men have firmly inserted themselves into the narrative.

Mind the gap

Only an alarmist would suggest that defeat would have dealt a mortal blow to Leeds United’s automatic promotion hopes, but there is no denying that a loss would have severely dented their prospects.

As the campaign inches closer and closer to the business end, Leeds United can’t afford to fall farther behind their rivals, lest they run out of games to make up the points deficit. The significance of the win at Ashton Gate can therefore not be underestimated.

Leeds United trailed third-placed Southampton and second-placed Ipswich Town by one and two points respectively, going into the match. After the win they are a point and two ahead of the Tractor Boys and the Saints respectively, and nine adrift of leaders Leicester City.

A bird in hand

Leeds United have played two games more than their rivals for the second automatic promotion berth. That’s why it was imperative that they didn’t slip-up on Friday night.

The psychological importance of moving into second place, albeit for less than 24 hours, cannot be emphasized enough. The Whites have a bird in hand, and that is worth more than the two in the bush represented by their rivals’ games in hand.

Over to rivals

Pressure is now squarely on Leicester City, but even more intensely, on Ipswich Town and Southampton to respond on Saturday and restore the pre-match week status quo.

Naturally, the best case scenario for Leeds United would see the trio drop points.

It is Ipswich who look more vulnerable than the other two. Kieran McKenna’s men will do well to negotiate a potential banana skin when they travel to Preston North End.

The Tractor Boys have stuttered in recent weeks. They are unbeaten in their last five matches, but they dropped eights points during that sequence.

Meanwhile, Southampton will be bidding to extend their 22-match unbeaten run in all competitions when they travel to bottom side Rotherham United. On paper, the Saints should prevail without undue discomfort.

Leicester City, who are looking increasingly destined for an instant return to the Premier League, will be favoured to extend their lead at the top at Stoke City’s expense.

Rivals may have games in hand, but Leeds United have a bird in hand.

Leeds United, how do I love thee!


I'm Barrie Jarrett, born in Leeds, lived over a decade in South Africa, CEO And Co Founder of Planet Sport Limited and Planet Bet Limited.

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