BLACKBURN ROVERS 1 LEEDS UNITED 2
THE unlikely figure of Steve Caldwell and the now customary presence of Mark Viduka scored the goals to give Leeds their most important win of the season and drag Blackburn into the thick of the relegation mire.
Defender Caldwell popped up with a header after just 84 seconds of an anxiety-riddled clash at Ewood Park, before Viduka drove home his sixth goal in his last seven games just two minutes from time.
The three points were Leeds' first on the road since November 29 ? Blackburn are without a home win since that date ? and gave the Whites back-to-back victories for the first time this campaign.
The result was not quite enough to lift Leeds out of the bottom three, but they find themselves level on points with both Portsmouth and Blackburn, the latter with just one win in their last eight games.
For Caldwell, who rose at the far post to nod past the despairing reach of goalkeeper Brad Friedel, it was his first goal since joining United at the end of January.
Away from home Leeds have often proved brittle soon after they have scored, but they can thank referee Steve Dunn for denying Blackburn the opportunity to draw level inside three minutes.
Michael Duberry became embroiled in the area with Jonathan Stead, the striker tumbling to the ground following what appeared to be a shirt tug, only for Dunn to wave away the vociferous appeals.
Blackburn then tried to take the game to Leeds, but it was the visitors who came closest to adding to their slender tally during a tense, nervous half, with the clearest opportunity falling to Alan Smith in the ninth minute.
Smith latched onto a long clearance from goalkeeper Paul Robinson before unleashing a dipping 25-yard half-volley which Friedel brilliantly pushed over from underneath his own bar.
What followed for the remainder of the half came as little surprise for both defences, whenever pushed, looked brittle and likely to crack at any stage.
Quite simply, Blackburn lacked the ingenuity to make any kind of breakthrough, with the best of their chances two opportunistic strikes from Jonathan Stead, both of which were at Robinson.
Gray should have watched his side clinch the three points in the 58th minute, Smith picked up a loose ball and made a bee-line for the box but, despite James Milner all alone to his left, he chose to go it alone.
Leeds then looked comfortable until slipshod defending allowed Andy Cole to crack in a superb shot which led to Robinson making his one and only save of the game as he palmed it away to his right. A few minutes later the win was clinched as Jermaine Pennant broke down the right and crossed forViduka to ram the ball into the roof of the net.
Still there was drama, with Craig Short heading home a Paul Gallagher free-kick in the third minute of injury time, but it was too little too late for the free-falling Rovers.