'Can't go any lower' - Luke Ayling on Leeds United fight, personal milestone and survival must
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Ayling made his 250th Leeds appearance in last weekend’s hosting of Newcastle United in which his seventh-minute strike gave Sam Allardyce’s side a 1-0 advantage. The relegation-threatened Whites were then presented with a golden opportunity to double their lead through a 28th-minute penalty but Patrick Bamford saw his spot kick saved and the Magpies hit back to go 2-1 in front via two Callum Wilson penalties of their own.
Leeds, though, rallied to leave with a 2-2 draw thanks to Rasmus Kristensen’s strike and Ayling has issued an upbeat message ahead of third-bottom United’s final two games of the season in the club’s bid to save their top-flight status.
The draw against the Magpies followed a 2-1 defeat at champions-elect Manchester City in new boss Allardyce’s first game in charge. Leeds remain one point adrift of safety but Ayling believes six points from Sunday’s clash at West Ham and next weekend’s hosting of Tottenham Hotspur is a must in United’s bid to stay up.
“We’ve built from the Manchester City game, it was hard playing against them, but we kept in the game well and kept our shape,” said Ayling to leedsunited.com.
“We took that into Newcastle, knowing it was going to be another tricky game, we scored early and had a chance to go two-nil up, before giving a penalty away soon after. But we kept in the game and managed to pick up a good point.
“The last two games have been pleasing, in that we’ve stayed in the games even when going behind, we didn’t get anything from Manchester City but we took a lot of confidence from that performance and showed it again last Saturday.
“We’re sticking together, we’ve had a really good two weeks with the new gaffer and we go into these next two weeks confident, we can’t go any lower, so now the only way we have to go is up.
“We will go to West Ham on Sunday and try to win the game, we know how big it is with two games to go.
"We have to win the two games to stay in the league, we have to because it is not in our hands, we will go into the matches, focus on ourselves and try to win the two games.”
Ayling has also reflected on a personal Whites milestone having taken in his 250th appearance for the club in last weekend’s draw against the Magpies.
“To play for this club is always a great honour and I’ve done it a few times now!” said the defender.
“I came here seven years ago and I don’t think many people knew who I was and I’ve now managed to play that amount of games, so it has been a very good journey. I think our next two games, will be my most important though, out of those 250.”