Corners were once the cause of severe angst for Garry Monk; these days he can rely on them to supply Leeds United with a goal a game.
As special as Souleymane Doukara’s finish against Nottingham Forest was, even that owed something to the set-piece which preceded it.
Pablo Hernandez, United’s corner specialist, was able to claim a hand in both goals in Wednesday’s 2-0 win, causing enough havoc with one delivery for Chris Wood to open the scoring and forcing Forest to offer up a difficult chance which Doukara took with outrageous brilliance.
Nine goals from corners and 13 from set-pieces, penalties excluded, is a tally which speaks highly about United’s coaching and preparation.
Those who watch Monk’s training sessions say work on set-pieces is a major feature of it. The club’s attention on them was focused by a costly tally of five concessions direct from corners in the opening month of the season, including two in a 3-1 defeat to Nottingham Forest.
Their effort since then has not only negated that weakness but developed set-pieces into a telling strength.
“You can’t get away from the fact that in any league, but especially in the Championship, set-pieces play a massive part, defensively and offensively,” Monk said. “We needed to be good at both.
“We do work incredibly hard on both because we need them. We’re not always at our best for the whole 90 minutes but this league doesn’t allow you to be completely dominant. You need as many weapons as you can have. It’s very important.”
Leeds’ versatility in attack has been affected by the loss of Hadi Sacko, their lightning-quick winger, to a minor knee injury, but Sacko has trained this week and will be considered for Sunday’s FA Cup tie at Sutton United.
Monk said: “The game (against Forest) came just a little to soon but he should be ready and available for the weekend.”
Liam Cooper is also over a leg injury but Charlie Taylor looks set to miss the Sutton game with a long-standing Achilles problem.