NEIL WARNOCK says Leeds United’s thoroughly committed 1-0 Championship victory over Leicester City was the perfect tribute to the late Gary Speed on an emotional night at Elland Road.
Whites fans paid their respects to Speed on the first anniversary of his passing and saw their side claim their first midweek league success in a year, the last one being at Nottingham Forest 12 months ago when they triumphed 4-0 in the first game following the death of the Welshman.
An early penalty from Luciano Becchio proved decisive as Warnock’s side claimed a second notable league scalp following Saturday’s win over high-flying Crystal Palace.
Warnock said: “Gary would have loved that, us getting stuck in, I thought it was fitting.
“It was a Gary Speed game; roll your sleeves up and not shirking a tackle.
“We beat the top of the league on Saturday, but these (Leicester) are the best squad and you can tell that with the subs they made. But in both games we have deserved it. We played some good stuff, with flair, but also putting bodies on the line when we needed.”
While there was delight for Warnock, there was woe for Sheffield Wednesday chief Dave Jones, whose side were dismantled in a 4-1 home loss to Watford, with the Owls losing their fifth game in a row.
Fans roundly booed Jones at the final whistle, with the Owls boss having presided over an alarming run of two victories in 17 games in all competitions.
But Jones, whose side visit old club Cardiff City on Sunday, remains defiant
He said: “Look at my record - I’ve never been in this situation before.
“We’re going through a very rough time. We’ve got to come out fighting and be strong and be brave.
“If people think somebody else will do a better job, go get him. And if he doesn’t do it, then what? Go and get someone else?
“How many managers has this club had in the last 10-15 years? Ten or more? Chopping and changing isn’t the right answer.”
Huddersfield Town’s first trip to the Riverside in just over 15 years proved a wholly disappointing one as Middlesbrough bounced back from successive losses with a 3-0 win, courtesy of a Scott McDonald double and Emmanuel Ledesma strike.
And Town boss Simon Grayson offered no excuses following the match.
He said: “I’m disappointed because I didn’t think we turned up.
“When you come up to Middlesbrough, the Riverside, you know you’re up against a good team who were looking to bounce back from the weekend’s result.
“It was a poor performance from us tonight and we got what we deserved basically.”
Counterpart Tony Mowbray, whose side were watched by a crowd of almost 21,000 fans, said: “We let a few supporters down with not a decent performance at the weekend, a difficult performance, a difficult game for the supporters who came out in their numbers to watch.
“Yet the same people who came back were rewarded with a better performance and a better result.”
Steve Bruce saw his Hull City side have the better of their encounter against visiting Crystal Palace, but pay the price for missing chances as a number of opportunities went begging - including a real sitter for Robert Koren - in a 0-0 stalemate.
Bruce said: “We couldn’t have played any better, especially in the first half.
“If I had to be critical over the last five or six months, we are creating some really good chances but we don’t take them.
“The chances we had in the first half and the crosses we put in were breathtaking. Unfortunately, Koren will be on ‘Christmas Bloopers’ that comes around every year. He can join me. I was on there for about ten years!”
Barnsley played out a 1-1 draw with Burnley at Oakwell, with Marcus Tudgay’s first strike for the club in the first half cancelling out Charlie Austin’s early opener.
The result extended the Reds’ winless streak to eight matches and boss Keith Hill has acknowledged the pressure is on to find a victory.
He said: “It was an uphill challenge after their goal, but the way the lads responded was absolutely superb.
“They showed a lot of bravery and I am pleased with the way we played.
“I am pleased with a lot of aspects of what is happening, but what we are all focused on and what we have to achieve is the end result and there is something missing from everything we are doing.
“I am not fortunate enough to be a development manager who can lose every game as long as there is player development. There is a massive responsibility on me to get results.”