THE sense of relief in Luke Murphy’s emotionally-charged goal celebration on Saturday said it all.
It may, in the words of head coach Neil Redfearn, be a “tough gig” for Leeds United at present, but for Murphy, it has been an arduous tour of duty all season at Elland Road – and before that.
The former Crewe man looked to the skies after his 86th-minute leveller, which clearly meant a lot to him as well as to his club.
It ended the club’s goal drought from open play which had lasted almost 12 playing hours, but more importantly salvaged something on a day in which fellow strugglers Rotherham United and Millwall both lost.
The in-form Blues had led from the eighth minute when Paul Caddis netted from the spot after captain Liam Cooper was penalised for fouling Bradford-born Clayton Donaldson.
Steve Morison went desperately close to a leveller twice, and a strong penalty appeal was turned down after ex-United loanee Paul Robinson appeared to trip Sam Byram seven minutes from time.
But respite was not long in coming with Byram’s cross not cleared and Murphy side-footing the loose ball high into the net for his first goal since mid-April.
One damning statistic may have been consigned to the dustbin, but another remains intact as Leeds are eight games without a win, although the point could well turn out to be a big one.
On the key impact of Murphy, recently restored to the side and United’s best player on the day, Redfearn said: “Luke’s done nothing but impress me. I had a good chat with him six weeks ago and talked about trying to get him in a better place.
“He had a rough ordeal last year as a £1m signing – and unjustly so, in my opinion. But he’s brave. He doesn’t hide, he gets on the ball and shows the qualities you admire in a footballer.
“He was the game’s outstanding player.”
On United’s performance, he added: “I’ve spoken to Gary Rowett and he said ‘we were lucky to get away with a point’.
“It’s not what we wanted, it’s not three points, but the performance and the grit and determination was good.
“We are fighting and when you are fighting you’ve got a chance. Their penalty looked a bit soft. It looked like there was contact with the ball.
“With our appeal, I’ve seen them given and I’ve seen them not given.
“A lot of stuff seemed to go against us and it has happened quite a bit. It’s a little bit worrying really.”
Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, C Taylor, Byram, Austin, Murphy, Cook (Doukara 78), Antenucci (Sharp 63), Morison. Unused substitutes: S Taylor, Pearce, Sloth, Bianchi, Mowatt.
Birmingham City: Randolph, Caddis, Morrison, Robinson, Grounds, Gleeson, Shinnie (Edgar 65), Davis, Cotterill (Zigic 83), Gray (Novak 78), Donaldson. Unused substitutes: Doyle, Thomas, Reilly, Hancox.
Referee: D Whitehouse (Northants).
Man of the match: Luke Murphy.