ROSS McCormack earned Neil Warnock’s praise for heading Leeds United to a sixth successive home league win as Sean O’Driscoll made a losing start to his reign as Bristol City boss.
Warnock admired McCormack’s all-round contribution as the resurgent striker collected his second goal in as many games in the 1-0 win at Elland Road.
“I thought if anyone was going to score today it was Ross,” Leeds manager Warnock said.
“It was a cracking goal, he deserved it and he covered lots of ground. He was a fraction away from putting one in at the end of the first half and looked very sharp.”
Boos rang out from Leeds fans after a dull opening 45 minutes but Warnock said: “We knew it would be hard work because they have a new manager and are fighting for their lives.
“We got a grip at half-time and were a lot more positive in the second half.
“Tom Lees and Lee Peltier were fabulous at the back for us. Unfortunately, you can’t please everyone, even when you have won six in a row in the league at home.
“For me, the glass should be half full, not half empty.”
Despite the defeat, O’Driscoll gathered his players together for a pitchside pat on the back after the final whistle.
He explained: “I’ve had three days with them and I thought they deserved a ‘well done’. You don’t get many chances to say that when you are still bottom of the league.
“We wanted them to be well organised, hard to beat and bright in the opposition’s half, which they were. I was pleased with their application but disappointed with the result. They are an honest bunch and I will just give them some direction.”
Asked if he was optimistic about avoiding the drop, O’Driscoll replied: “Optimism in football is a dangerous emotion. You have to be realistic and we are in a dangerous position, but if we can maintain the level we set today and add a couple of players there is no reason why we can’t give ourselves a chance of retaining Championship status.”
City showed ample commitment, which sometimes spilled over into rash challenges, with Liam Kelly, Neil Kilkenny and substitute Wes Burns collecting bookings and Greg Cunningham and Liam Fontaine fortunate to escape the same fate.
Leeds enjoyed overwhelming possession but rarely tested Tom Heaton, with Fontaine and Louis Carey standing firm at the back. The biggest threat to Leeds goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was a close-in backpass from defender Tom Lees.
McCormack’s opportunity arrived on 66 minutes when Ross Barkley, on his home debut, tricked Stephen Pearson and crossed from the right for the striker to out-jump Richard Forster and head in at the far post.