ALEX MOWATT is calling on Leeds United to back up Tuesday’s relieving victory over Cardiff City by going for the derby jugular against Huddersfield Town today.
United make the short trip across the M62 to the John Smith’s Stadium, with memories abound of their last-gasp 2-1 victory there on January 31, which secured a first double over their near-neighbours since 1938-39.
That sweet win, thanks to an 89th-minute strike from substitute Billy Sharp, was one of the highpoints of last term during a season-defining run under Neil Redfearn which steered the club away from the wrong end of the Championship table.
Now Steve Evans is assigned with applying some further balm for supporters after a rough start to the season which has left United too close to the relegation positions for comfort – with matters seriously compounded by a constant flow of fraught headlines away from the pitch.
Tuesday’s win, courtesy of an exquisite match-winning moment provided by Mowatt, means United head into today’s West Yorkshire derby with confidence levels now going in the right direction again.
Victory this lunchtime would secure back-to-back wins for Leeds for the first time since March 7 and Mowatt admits that three points will arrive at a timely juncture, ahead of the fortnight-long international hiatus.
Mowatt said: “After the Cardiff win, we can go into Huddersfield a lot more confident.
“We can get after them and get that win.
“The gaffer made it clear after that Cardiff was just one victory.
“We have to back it up.
“But it does still feel like a massive victory for everyone. We have that win at home and if we can now back that up by beating Huddersfield in the derby, we can go into the international break a lot happier.
“And that can set us up to come back afterwards in our better form.”
Admitting he cannot wait for today’s derby cauldron, which will see new Town head coach David Wagner watch his side for the first time after being appointed as Chris Powell’s replacement on Thursday, Mowatt added: “I love derby matches. I have always liked them.
“They are more high tempo than usual games and the tackles are flying.
“The fans seem to like them a lot more as well. At Huddersfield, we always have that full end and it is great for us, as the atmosphere the fans create is brilliant.
“I remember last season and Billy jumping in after getting the winner.
“I might do if I do the same this weekend!”
Mowatt admits he was especially delighted for the fans after his choice contribution ended United’s desperate bout of homesickness on Tuesday as they claimed three points at Elland Road for the first time in a club-record 12 matches.
It may not have been a picture-perfect performance, but in terms of character and resolve, United were not to be found wanting as they started to heel the hurt following the poor televised Roses loss to Blackburn Rovers on October 29.
And having got the winless monkey of their backs at Elland Road, Mowatt has also preached the importance of backing things up on home soil when United resume after the international break with another derby, at home to Rotherham United, managed by old boss Redfearn, on November 21.
Mowatt added: “All the boys were buzzing after the Cardiff game.
“It felt so good to finally get that home win and it was good to see the fans so happy.
“Everyone knew Blackburn had been poor, so we were fired up and determined to have a response.
“We were ready to work hard and, thankfully, we got the result.
“Everyone was hurting after Blackburn. We knew it had been a poor game.
“It had been so long since our last home win, so everyone felt great at full-time.
“Finally, we had broken the run, but now we have to go on a run at home.
“We need to get more points, that’s obvious.”