Charlie Taylor took the plaudits for a “sweet” goal and a “huge” win after his inspired performance steered Leeds United to a 2-1 victory at MK Dons on Saturday.
Taylor celebrated his 22nd birthday by earning a penalty and claiming his first goal of the season, prompting head coach Uwe Rosler to predict that the “limit is the sky” for the talented left-back.
Taylor – the subject of speculation linking him to Manchester United last week – enhanced his growing reputation by helping Leeds through a gruelling game at stadium:mk.
United withstood intense pressure from an MK Dons side reduced to 10 men in the second half to hold on to a half-time lead and recover from their first defeat of the Championship term to Ipswich Town last week.
Chris Wood opened the scoring from the penalty spot after Taylor drew a foul by MK Dons’ Carl Baker on 30 minutes and Taylor established a 2-0 advantage at the interval with a raking finish shortly before the break.
MK Dons fought back to score through Simon Church and a chaotic finish saw goalkeeper Marco Silvestri clear an effort from his goalline deep into injury-time as MK Dons tried to overcome the dismissal of Samir Carruthers.
Taylor said: “The game had everything. I was happy to be involved in both the goals and delighted to get on the scoresheet.
“It was something I wanted to do this season.
“That’s definitely my best goal yet. My other two were only tap-ins. I remember it opening up and thinking ‘I’m in the box here’. It was a tight angle but I thought I’d have a pop. I caught it sweet and it’s gone in.
“It’s a huge three points and it’s given everyone confidence to kick on from.”
Taylor is the only recognised left-back in Rosler’s squad and the only player to have featured in every minute of United’s season so far.
Rosler admitted that he was wary of allowing the academy product to burn out but said: “The boy was magnificent. The limit is the sky for this guy.
“He’ll learn more and more about his position and the more experience he gets, he’ll play a little more economically.
“At the moment he’s pushing himself to the limit in every single game.
“When you play 46 games that can be a big ask.
“But we want him to have influence in the final third.
“I’m delighted to have him. At the moment he’s top drawer.”
Taylor, who established himself as a regular starter for the first time at Leeds during the second half of last season, turned 22 on Friday.
“I was in a hotel on Friday so I couldn’t celebrate my birthday,” he said. “Maybe I will now with my family and friends.”
United’s win left them 10th in the Championship table, a point short of the play-off places.
The Whites’ early exit from the Capital One Cup means their next match is a televised Sky Bet Championship clash with second-placed rivals Middlesbrough at the Riverside Stadium on Sunday lunchtime.