Matt Smith welcomed the return of some cheer to Elland Road after his 11th goal of the season helped Leeds United emerge from another lengthy winless run.
The striker’s header set up a cagey win over Millwall on Saturday and inspired a result which Smith felt was owed to the crowd on the back of a costly loss of form.
United suffered heavy defeats to Bolton and Reading in their previous home fixtures and a streak of six games without a win put paid to their chances of qualifying for the Championship play-offs. But Brian McDermott’s squad withstood a desperate effort from Millwall to seal a 2-1 success through Ross McCormack’s 25th league goal and bring their campaign under control.
“We haven’t given the fans much to sing about, especially at Elland Road, so this was important for them,” Smith said.
“At this stage of the season, football’s more about results than performances and more about having a winning mentality. You give professional performances and see games out when you need to. We did that.
“Millwall threw all their strikers on and went hell for leather and we had to ride the storm for most of the second half. They really caused us problems but we held it together.” DJ Campbell gave Millwall hope of a result with a sublime volley in the 72nd minute but Leeds held on despite a tense finish.
Smith impressed again scoring for the third time in four games with a clever header on 18 minutes. The ex-Oldham forward is nearing the end of his first season with Leeds and said he was confident of improving further after taking his tally of goals into double figures this month.
“The promising thing from my end is that there’s a lot more to come from me,” Smith said.
“This is only my third season as a professional footballer and my first in the Championship, and as I’ve said before the difference between July and now is night and day massively.
“Physically, tactically – everything is improving and everything’s rubbing off on me. I’ve always maintained that I’m not an impact sub and I want to start games.”