Wilkinson's diving platform

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Howard Wilkinson shrugged off an Elland Road chorus of disapproval to reassert his faith in the footballing principles which he believes will catapult Leeds back to the top.

The hard-talking Leeds boss heard jeers before Lee Sharpe's spectacular first goal for the club brought a 1-0 victory over Wimbledon to lift the storm clouds that had been gathering over the west Yorkshire club on Monday night. There were even muted chants for Kenny Dalglish on a night when Leeds struggled to overcome the combative Dons before sentencing Joe Kinnear's men to a third successive defeat, which keeps them anchored to the bottom of the Premiership without a point or goal to their name.

Wilkinson said: "It was a very trying and difficult night for our players, but I thought our youngsters showed a lot of character, courage and mental toughness. I told the players to work hard and pass the ball. If they had listened to the crowd in the first half that wouldn't have happened and we wouldn't have got what I always believed we would get.

"The supporters pay their money and are entitled to behave how they want, provided it is within the law," Wilkinson said. "But I would argue that they thought what we were doing would not be successful, but we stuck to our guns and I think we were right to."

Sharpe, who prompted Wilkinson to match Leeds's record transfer fee in paying Manchester United pounds 4.5m for his services earlier this summer, settled the issue with a wonderfully struck 20-yard drive in the 58th minute.

And the former England man admitted: "The players were aware of the crowd, but we knew we had to keep our heads, keep passing and be patient.

"It was a night to remember for me and the win has given us a platform to build on."