Jack Harrison took Leeds United another step closer to the Premier League with a winning goal against Sheffield Wednesday and said he was confident the club would not allow their advantage to slip again with four games of the season to go.
Harrison settled Saturday’s Yorkshire derby against Wednesday with a 65th-minute effort to give Leeds a valuable three-point cushion over Sheffield United and strike a potentially crucial blow in a thrilling promotion race.
The clubs are locked in a tense Championship scrap but Sheffield United lost second place in the table after a 1-1 draw at Birmingham City in midweek and conceded further ground on Saturday after Millwall claimed a point at Bramall Lane in the fifth minute of injury-time..
Leeds showed no signs of nerves as a consummate performance against Sheffield Wednesday, in a match which kicked off after the Blades’ stalemate with Millwall, yielded a 14th home win of the term.
Harrison said: “That’s important, especially at this point in the season when tension’s high and you see a lot of teams caving into the pressure.
“We’re an extremely strong team, not just physically but mentally. We have the talent so there’s no reason why we can’t handle it. It’s important when the pressure is high and everything’s going on around you to stay focused.”
News of the result from Bramall Lane arrived little over half-an-hour before kicked off at Elland Road, although United head coach Marcelo Bielsa revealed afterwards that he had not been informed of the scoreline from Sheffield until after Leeds’ win over Wednesday.
Bielsa’s side host Wigan Athletic next on Good Friday before ending their season with games against Brentford, Aston Villa and Ipswich Town.
Ipswich became the first team to be relegated from the Championship over the weekend after a 1-1 draw with Birmingham.
Harrison said: “The manager always stresses the importance of controlling what we can control and focusing on what we can do. The results came in just as we were preparing to kick off but we stayed together as a team and kept control.
“We’re saying exactly the same thing, making sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves. At this stage of the season it’s crucial to take it game by game and control what can control. I’m repeating myself but the manager is expecting that.”
Wednesday boss Steve Bruce conceded after a one-sided match that his side had failed to cope with Leeds’ levels of fitness and intensity.
United were denied repeatedly in the first half by Owls goalkeeper Keiren Westwood, who pulled off fine saves to keep out efforts from Harrison and Tyler Roberts.
“We were so unlucky with some of our chances but we kept preserving and we were good enough to get the goal in the second half,” Harrison said.
“We’re incredibly fit as a team and it shows in the games we’ve played here. The other week against Millwall and so many other times this season we’ve been able to come up with a goal in the last few minutes and that’s because we’re so fit.
“I think we’ve got enough motivation to get us through the rest of the season.”