Alex Mowatt marked the end of his teens with a match-winning strike against Millwall and then focused his attention on taking Leeds United as close to the Championship’s top six as possible.
The midfielder turned 20 on Friday and put the gloss on his weekend 24 hours later, dispatching a deflected free-kick to inflict a 1-0 defeat on Millwall and carry Leeds into the top half of the division.
United were languishing in 20th position a week ago but successive victories over Reading and Ian Holloway’s Millwall raised the club to 12th at full-time on Saturday.
An eight-point gap between Leeds and the bottom three has eased fears of relegation to League One and a mammoth gap of 15 points to the play-offs is likely to limit United’s target to a top-half finish. But Mowatt said: “You never know and that’s this league.
“If you get a good run of games going then you see how high you can climb up. A couple of weeks ago people were saying relegation and things like that but now people are talking about getting near the play-offs.
“We’re in good form and if we keep winning games we’ll see where we can get to.”
Mowatt has been a prominent member of United’s squad for the past season-and-a-half despite his young age and head coach Neil Redfearn described him as the “best player on the pitch” at the end of Saturday’s game.
The former academy player has improvised as a left winger in Redfearn’s current formation and he said: “In the last couple of weeks I don’t think I’ve been at my best. I’ve been playing in a different position.
“But now I’m starting to get to know that position and it’s working because we’ve had a few results. I felt (against Millwall) that I was getting back to playing my best. It was a great win.”
Asked about his goal, Mowatt said: “That’s what I was after on Friday night.
“I was thinking it would be nice to get a goal for my birthday. It was the perfect birthday present.”
Leeds, who go to joint league leaders Middlesbrough this Saturday, have turned a troubled season around by winning four of their seven league games in 2015.
Mowatt claimed a team-bonding session had helped to drag Redfearn’s squad out of a patch of poor form, saying: “There’s a togetherness now and everyone is starting to get along better.
“We had a team night out and a meal and I think that got us all together. Since then we have been in good form.”