IF, as Neil Redfearn expects, today’s Championship clash proves to be a tight affair then Steve Morison would surely not be able to pick a better time to end his goalscoring drought.
The 31-year-old has, like team-mate Luke Murphy, come in from the cold at Elland Road since the turn of the year.
However, while Murphy’s impressive performances have been backed up by three goals, Morison has to look back almost two years for the last time he found the net in a white shirt.
Morison spending last season on loan at Millwall partially explains that long wait for a Leeds goal. But, even so, he has started eight times and made seven further appearances from the bench since netting twice for United in a 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on March 9, 2013.
It is a record made all the more surprising by just how well Morison has played in the six starts he has made in 2015.
Employed largely as a lone frontman, the Wales international has worked tirelessly for the team and played a big part in the upturn of results that has eased Redfearn’s side away from trouble in recent weeks.
United’s head coach appreciates that more than anyone and he is adamant that Morison’s name will be back on the scoresheet very soon.
“Steve has been playing really well,” said Redfearn ahead of today’s key encounter with the Lions at Elland Road.
“He has led the line well and he has been unlucky in front of goal. Obviously, he wants to score.
“But you have got to look at the bigger picture.
“If you are playing well and winning or playing well and getting results then you have got to persevere.
“Other players have got to prove that they are going to offer something better. Steve is playing well. He is not that far off getting a goal and he looks like scoring.”
Typical of Morison’s luck in front of goal lately was Tuesday night’s 2-0 win at Reading.
In the first half, he was denied by a post and then after the restart it was the turn of Royals goalkeeper Adam Federici to keep the striker at bay.
Redfearn would have loved his main striker to get the goal his play deserved. However, the United chief was just as pleased with how Morison responded to the second of those disappointments as he created Sam Byram’s 90th-minute clincher.
It was a wonderful example of what Redfearn was hoping to see when handing Morison a surprise recall for the January 10 trip to Bolton Wanderers.
The diamond formation that Leeds had employed for much of the campaign had lost its shine and the club’s head coach thought the best course of action would be a switch to 4-2-3-1 with Morison leading the line.
It is an alteration that has paid off, United’s only league defeat of 2015 having come a week ago with a 4-4-2 set-up that was nowhere near as effective.
“Steve fits the bill in our system,” said Redfearn of Morison, who netted eight goals last term when on loan with today’s visitors to Elland Road.
“He is a target man, he is mobile and he leads the line well. What I saw in him was a chance to get the best out of the players I have got.
“This is the hand I have been dealt. Apart from the kids I’m responsible for bringing through, I have not signed any of these players.
“What you do as a coach is get the best out of the players you are given. Steve is capable of leading the line as a lone striker and he looks more like the Steve Morison I know.
“Of course, he wants to score goals and we want him to score goals.
“But at the moment he is playing in a team that is successful.
“Look at Tuesday. He hit the post the other night but he did brilliant for Byram’s goal, keeping his composure and picking Sam out.
“He is finding his feet and just starting to look more and more like the Steve Morison I know and I remember from his early days.
“He will get his goals, he will start scoring.”
United’s haul of 11 points from the six games since Morison was brought in from the cold along with Murphy has helped ease fears of relegation.
Defeat today, however, would undo a lot of that hard work, especially with Millwall currently occupying the third and final relegation place. Five points separate the two clubs.
“It will be tight,” says Redfearn of a contest against a team that beat United 2-0 on the opening day of the season. “There won’t be much in it. We will be working on the same premise because that is the way out of trouble.
“Look at our recent games. In the last five, we have scored seven and conceded four. Every game’s been 1-0, 1-1, nothing in it.
“Millwall are going down the same lines. It might not be a great game, but we have got to come out with the points.
“There are 16 games left and a lot of points to play for and we want to continue our good form. That’s the importance of it.
“The fact that it’s Millwall and we can put some distance between us and the bottom three adds even more importance. We are playing with confidence and we’re at home. The lads are willing to work for each other and there’s an appreciation that nothing is a given.”
Meanwhile, the long-time parent company of Leeds United is fighting to reverse a winding-up order issued against it by the High Court this week.
A judge in London ordered Leeds City Holdings Limited to be liquidated on Monday over an unpaid bill of £45,000 claimed by former club solicitor Mark Taylor. United are attempting to overturn the ruling.