By George Overhill

23rd Jan, 2023 | 7:10am

Sky Sports pundit blown away by outstanding Leeds United man Robin Koch in battle with Ivan Toney

Clinton Morrison was blown away by Robin Koch as the “outstanding” Leeds United defender won his battle with Brentford striker Ivan Toney.

The difference in the German’s performance against the English front man at Elland Road on Sunday (22 January) compared to the 5-2 defeat on 3 September, where Toney scored a hat-trick, was night and day as January signing Max Wober seemed to make all the difference by his side.

The threat from the high-flying visitors, still eighth in the table even after the goalless draw, was almost entirely nullified by excellent performances from the Whites’ centre-back pairing and Morrison singled out the 26-year-old Koch for particular praise.

Speaking on Sky Sports News after the game on Sunday afternoon (22 January, 4.29pm) Morrison said of the clean sheet: “That is big. And I thought Robin Koch at the back was outstanding, but he got booked so he’s going to miss the Forest game which is a huge game.

“But I thought he was brilliant. He put his body on the line, he defended well. He had a real good battle with Ivan Toney. Both players got booked, and you have to battle Ivan Toney because he’s a brilliant striker who can cause you problems.

“He was in his face and was battling him, but they defended ever so well. I think clean sheets are big. We know [Leeds] can score goals, even though they didn’t today, but defensively you worry about them.

“Today I thought they defended brilliantly. And it’s always good having [Luke] Ayling back.”

Justified

It has been impossible not to criticise Koch at times this season when he has looked shaky and disorganised at the back, so it is only right that he is praised when he excels.

The only mark against his performance this weekend was that booking that ruled him out of the next match, but it may have been the cost of doing business against Toney.

Captain Liam Cooper was surprisingly absent from the match-day squad despite Jesse Marsch suggesting prior to the game he would be available, leaving Wober to come in and partner Koch.

As a result Leeds United suddenly had a defence that was worthy of the name, and while Brentford were far from their best on the day, any sparks that they generated were quickly snuffed out.

Were it not for the suspension it would seem a given that the two would keep their places, and it is going to be hard to justify not putting them back together once Koch serves his ban.

It was disappointing that the sparkling United attack faltered just as the defence raised their game to let two crucial points go begging, but given how things finished the last time these two teams met a point is a significant improvement.

In other Leeds United news, a “very strange” decision from Marsch made one Sky Sports pundit believe the manager has no trust in one of his star men.