Leeds United 2, Albion 0

How many points Albion need to secure promotion in the eight matches left remains a matter for debate.

The Championship's capacity to confound was demonstrated yet again, as the three teams fighting for the top two spots managed just a point and no goals between them.

Leeds joined Reading - both seemingly bound for the lottery of the play-offs and facing each other next - as the only winners among the top eight before a ball had been kicked on Friday.

Chris Hughton's sums are probably right. Albion require another away win to reach the Premier League, assuming that is their dominance at the Amex stays in-tact.

Nothing can be taken for granted in this league, even though visits from Blackburn, Birmingham, Wigan and Bristol City appear ripe for a healthy haul.

Trips to QPR, Wolves, Norwich and Aston Villa are a different story. Three of them are currently bang in form, while Hughton's old club Norwich, managerless but still with an outside chance of squeezing into the top six, also have that 5-0 mauling in Sussex to avenge.

In this context, the Seagulls' declining standards on their travels is a concern. They have won only two of the last seven now, one of which was at tailed off Rotherham. This was the third blank sheet of the sequence.

Yet there was sufficient encouragement in defeat at a boisterous Elland Road to suggest a tenth away victory, one more than last season's final tally, is not beyond them.

It was a missed opportunity of sorts - given the strength of the opposition - following Huddersfield's Friday night hammering at Bristol City and Newcastle's stalemate at Birmingham a couple of hours earlier.

The result, however, is misleading. It flattered Leeds. The devil was in the detail, as is so often the case in the second tier. It was a contest of fine margins.

Albion defended solidly for the most part, considering how stretched they are in that department.

The Argus: At least four, possibly five, casualties would have been in the starting line-up or on the bench if fit. Half of the makeshift back four (Fikayo Tomori pictured above and Uwe Huenemeier) would not have made the squad in those circumstances.


It was a tall order to cope with Chris Wood, the Championship's leading marksman. A combination of his power and the absence of captain Bruno ultimately proved decisive.

Wood has matured since helping Albion to the League One title as a team-mate of Glenn Murray on loan from West Brom. Increased body strength is accompanied now by much-improved mobility.

The Kiwi broke the deadlock with a fine, looping header from a left-wing cross by Charlie Taylor which Anthony Knockaert might have done more to prevent.

Tomori, making his full league debut after Bruno decided on Friday the groin injury he sustained against Derby had not fully healed, had intervened during the build-up.

It was one of several good pieces of defending by the Chelsea teenager, whose terrific turn of foot helped him out of some testing situations.

The naivety of youth sealed the deal late-on. Tomori's lunging attempt to interrupt Souleymane Doukara's surge into the box made contact with the substitute's foot, not the ball.

It was a straightforward decision for Premier League referee Lee Mason and Wood belted in the spot-kick, his 24th league goal of the season and 27th in all competitions.

Leeds will have enjoyed the symmetry after losing to two penalties with ten men at the Amex in December.

Tomori, who put through his own net on debut in the FA Cup exit at Lincoln, is quickly discovering just how harsh the first team environment can be.

He is a decent prospect and will learn from it, but he may not get another chance with Albion as Bruno and Seb Pocognoli are both expected to be fit to face Blackburn.

Gaetan Bong is creeping closer to a return too and in the middle, where Tomori can also operate, recent signing Vegard Forren will be up to speed in time to be in squad contention for Rovers.

Until Wood's breakthrough, the makeshift back four had limited Leeds, although they edged the first half by building pressure through set pieces.

David Stockdale, back at the ground where he used to be a supporter, was not called upon until the hour and only then to deal with Wood's shot after stand-in skipper Lewis Dunk and Dale Stephens left a cross to each other.

Albion conceded just as they were exhibiting more atacking intent and, once behind, three good opportunities to equalise were spurned.

Knockaert, released by Beram Kayal, chose the wrong option. He should have crossed or shot more purposefully than a tame effort which gave Rob Green a routine save.

The Argus: Murray (above) dragged wide when well-placed and then, from Knockaert's free-kick, was given time and space by a static defence to control, slip a little and still shoot ferociously. A yard either side of Green, instead of straight at him, and the outcome would have been very much in the balance.

It was not Knockaert's or Murray's night this time, but both are miles in credit and will still be key figures.

Kayal's return from a broken ankle could be significant too during the run-in. He showed plenty of drive and ambition after an impressive display against Derby, forcing Green into a reflex save from a first half cross which rescued Laim Cooper from an own goal.

The Israeli is much fresher than at this stage last year when, together with Stephens, he played virtually every game.

Albion will need Knockaert, Murray, Kayal and the rest on form in West London, West Midlands or East Anglia to collect the extra away points which could be vital.