Souleymane Doukara backed himself to make a lasting impression on Leeds United’s season after his appearance as a late substitute inspired a 2-0 win over Burton Albion.
The striker shone for the second time in a week on Saturday, following up his effective performance in Tuesday’s dramatic League Cup win over Norwich City but coming off the bench to win a penalty and score the second goal in a tight Championship clash with Burton.
Doukara’s finish on 96 minutes –coming after the 83rd-minute foul by Ben Turner which brought down the French forward and allowed Chris Wood to convert his 10th goal of the season from the penalty spot – was his first for Leeds since March and his first at Elland Road for more than nine months.
The 25-year-old is into his third season with United and the last year of his contract and his time at the club has been characterised by brief purple patches in amongst long periods out of favour.
An extended run in Leeds’ starting line-up under Steve Evans last term ended when the Football Association hit Doukara with an eight-game ban for biting former Fulham defender Fernando Amorebieta but Doukara revealed how current head coach Garry Monk had given him a vote of confidence in the summer, saying: “He’s been good to me.
“At the beginning of the season I wasn’t fit and he said that I needed to get back fit because I could do something for us and I could play a big part in the team. I think I can play a big part this season and we want to do something this year.
“I was waiting for this goal because I’m a striker and every striker wants to score goals and make the difference. It’s one of my best moments. I didn’t score (at home) since January so to score in front of the home crowd is a very good thing. I’m not the best player but I have big determination and that’s why I came on strong.”
Doukara turned an even contest by pouncing on a wonderful through-ball from Pablo Hernandez on 83 minutes, drawing Turner into a sliding foul.
He was then on hand at the very end of injury-time to finish off a counter-attack in front of the Kop, celebrating by kicking away a corner flag and earning
himself a yellow card.
“I was suspended and didn’t score so when I scored I felt a big emotion,” Doukara said. “The referee booked me because you cannot touch the flag but it was a massive relief to score.
“It has been a difficult year but you need to stay strong mentally and when you get your opportunity you have to make the difference.”
United’s victory moved them up to ninth in the Championship, a point behind the last play-off place.
Monk called for his players to ignore the table and maintain their focus on individual matches, and Doukara said: “I cannot say anything (about targets) at the moment. We have a lot of games and especially in the Championship, you can win games and be there and lose games and be at the bottom. The fans are starting to believe but we need to be focused.”