ON THE weekend when the clocks went back, Souleymane Doukara produced a rewind that was rather more welcome for Leeds United.
Blessed with the physique of a prize fighter, the Frenchman has all too often floated like a butterfly and stung like one during his time at Elland Road.
But after a pre-season pep talk from Garry Monk, the powerhouse striker appears to be taking the hint, with his last two performances indicating that he might yet pack a punch for United in his third season in West Yorkshire.
Doukara, infamously banned for eight matches at the end of last season after being found guilty of biting Fulham’s Fernando Amorebieta in a game on February 23, drew the rugged challenge from Ben Turner which yielded the game-breaking penalty that was dispatched clinically seven minutes from time by top-scorer Chris Wood.
The substitute, who came on with 17 minutes to go, then went solo, staying on his feet to bundle home in the sixth minute of stoppage-time for his first home goal since January 23.
The late events were as memorable as the opening 83 minutes were eminently forgettable and, for the second successive home match, there were exhilarating scenes to savour at the finale with Doukara mobbed by his team-mates, 30 seconds after Burton had spurned a very presentable free-kick chance to equalise at the other end.
It is too early to say Leeds are truly onto something. But the statistics show that they are seven points and eight places better off than this time last year and their persistence and character is providing solid fuel for a Championship itinerary that next sees them tackle the heavyweights of Norwich City and Newcastle United – with Aston Villa and Brighton also looming on the horizon.
It will be a time when contributions from across the board will be necessary, with Doukara doing his own cause no harm and drawing the right sort of headlines for once.
Confessing to a sense of relief after netting his first Elland Road goal in over nine months, Doukara – who celebrated his strike by kicking the corner flag, earning him a booking – said: “Yes, I am relieved, because after that (goal in January) I was suspended and I did not score and when I scored, I felt a big emotion.
“It is one of my best moments. It has been a difficult year, but you need to stay strong mentally and when you get your opportunity, you have to make the difference.
“The manager has been good to me. At the beginning of the season, I was not fit and he said that I needed to get back fit because I could play a big part in the team. I think I can play a big part for Leeds.”
Insisting that he never felt that his future might be away from Leeds in the summer, the Parisian said: “I knew that the time would come when I would have my opportunity.
“You need to stay focused, work hard and come back strong. Everyone in the squad is pushing me to the best level.”
After the tumultuous midweek events against Norwich in the League Cup, an encore looked wholly out of the question for large parts on Saturday with Burton, on their first visit to Elland Road, looking full value for a point.
Manager Nigel Clough dined out at Leeds’s expense on numerous occasions in his time at the Derby helm, presiding over six straight wins, and his Albion outfit threatened to continue his hold over the club where his late father courted such controversy during an ill-fated 44-day spell in charge.
Burton had the better of the first half and went closest to an opener when home captain Kyle Bartley, under pressure from Turner, saw his clearing header clip the top of his own bar following Matt Palmer’s set-piece.
The visitors looked nothing like a side who have yet to win on their travels this term, but could not land that telling blow with a key moment seeing Turner head over when well-placed shortly after the interval after Chris O’Grady nodded the ball into his path.
Leeds dug in and a moment of rare quality saw Luke Ayling cleverly slip in Kemar Roofe, who agonisingly dragged a shot just wide of advancing Burton goalkeeper and boyhood Leeds fan Jon McLaughlin.
McLaughlin, who worked with his hero Nigel Martyn at former club Bradford City, then frustrated Leeds and a fair few of his mates sat in the Geldard End by denying Roofe.
The expected onslaught never arrived, but after a ropey performance, Leeds found a way to win.
A sublime cushioned pass from the fit-again Pablo Hernandez found Doukara and the panicking Turner clumsily felled the striker and Jeremy Simpson showed no hesitation in pointing to the spot.
It was a gift that few suspected Wood was likely to pass up and he blasted home his third home goal in successive games to take his season’s tally into double figures.
Undeterred, Burton threw the kitchen sink at Leeds at the climax, but the final development arrived at the other end.
Palmer saw his dangerous free-kick blocked and bodies got in the way of Jackson Irvine’s follow-up and – with Burton’s players hopefully stranded upfield – Leeds sealed the deal.
Wood coolly slotted in Doukara and he managed to stay on his feet despite being caught from behind by John Brayford to scramble the ball low past McLaughlin.