They did not look comfortable yesterday until captain Paul Butler added to Richard Cresswell's first-half header with a second goal six minutes from the end, but should their Sheffield rivals slip against Watford tomorrow night, it might look a highly valuable victory.
"We'll be watching that one with a lot of interest," said Blackwell's head coach, John Carver. "I know Neil Warnock says that all the pressure is on the chasing pack but we are going to put as much pressure on Sheffield United as we can because we still feel we can catch them."
Rangers had five players - four of them on loan - making their debuts. And given that three of those new faces (Marcin Kus, Keith Lowe and Andy Taylor) were in the back four, endeavouring to protect the goalkeeper Phil Barnes, signed from Sheffield United as emergency cover for the injured Simon Royce and Jake Cole, it looked a recipe for defensive misunderstandings.
Their manager Ian Holloway dubbed them "Queen's Park Strangers." But in fact, with the experienced Steve Lomas overseeing everything from midfield and Danny Shittu authoritative at the back, they were surprisingly well organised.
When Leeds went ahead it was through an error that was individual rather than collective. Barnes took responsibility for dealing with an Eddie Lewis free kick but came out embarrassingly second best against Cresswell, the Leeds striker looping a header into the unguarded net. Leeds were lucky when a close-range header from Lowe bounced kindly for Neil Sullivan early in the second half, but they countered immediately. Barnes, diving to his left, kept out a goal-bound shot from the impressive Liam Miller and then Cresswell headed wide. Barnes took another step towards redeeming himself when he saved from Lewis, but Rangers were killed off when centre-back Butler stormed into the visitors' box to meet a Lewis cross with an unstoppable header.