Grayson dares to dream as reborn Leeds scent return to the top flight

Leeds United 2 Queen's Park Rangers 0

During the downward spiral that brought Leeds United two relegations, two play-off defeats and one administration, the club's stature must have been like a millstone around the neck.

Yet such things as tradition and support can galvanise at other times and it felt that way on Saturday as Leeds' push for a Premier League return gained momentum with a victory over leaders Queen's Park Rangers that lifted them to second in the Championship.

Before the kick-off Eddie Gray, a stalwart of the Don Revie era, spoke with confidence about Leeds' squad having the quality and depth for automatic promotion. After an hour, that belief had gripped the whole ground as, with Leeds leading 1-0, fans on all four sides of Elland Road stood swirling scarves and singing an old hymn from Gray's own playing days.

"We are the champions, champions of Europe" may not fit the second-tier setting – and QPR manager Neil Warnock accused Leeds of overdoing the celebrations after the game as the visitors suffered a second straight defeat after a 19-game unbeaten start – but it showed the renewed optimism at a club last in the top flight in 2004.

The Leeds manager, Simon Grayson, described it as their best display of the campaign and admitted his team had exceeded expectations since last May's promotion from League One. "It is not something we'd envisaged when we started the season. We'd hoped we would be top half, pushing on [but] we have given ourselves an opportunity."

Of promotion, Grayson believes that "somebody will eventually take this club back because of the facilities, the fan base, the size and the history", but knows that a tough Christmas period beckons, including visits to Leicester and Cardiff. "There are big games coming up but we are going into that run with a lot of confidence," added the manager, whose weekend got even better when top scorer Luciano Becchio signed a new contract after the match.

Leeds have not lost since Cardiff thumped them 4-0 at Elland Road on 25 October, an improvement which has coincided with embracing a 4-2-3-1 formation. They look solid defensively and are fluid in their attacking play, Grayson praising their "one-touch, two-touch football" on an afternoon where wingers Robert Snodgrass and Max Gradel troubled QPR's defence. Gradel scored both goals – the first after a Snodgrass cross, the second on a quick counter.

Leeds United (4-2-3-1): Schmeichel; Connolly, Bruce (Bromby, 11), Collins, McCartney; Kilkenny, Johnson; Snodgrass, Howson, Gradel (Sam, 76); Becchio (Paynter, 89). Substitutes not used: Higgs (gk), Faye, Somma, McCormack.

QPR (4-2-3-1): Kenny; Orr, Connolly, Gorkss, Hill (Hall, h-t); Derry, Walker; Smith (Ephraim, 75), Taarabt, Mackie; Hulse (Clarke, 75). Substitutes not used: Cerny (gk), Helguson, Rowlands, Tofas.

Referee: S Mathieson (Cheshire)

Booked: Leeds, Connolly; QPR Hill, Orr.

Man of the match Gradel

Attendance 29,426

Emma Watson has become the latest target of the 4Chan nude hacking scandal
peopleThreats follows actress' speech on feminism and equality at the UN
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
Life and Style
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Life and Style
Alan Turing, who was convicted of gross indecency in 1952, was granted a royal pardon last year
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
Life and Style
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits