Daniel Farke felt Leeds’ 1-0 victory over Stoke was his side’s “best win in 2024” as they continued their Championship automatic-promotion charge.

Dan James could have had a couple in the first half but for Daniel Iversen’s saves before the Wales international put his side ahead with his 11th goal of the season just after the half-hour mark.

Stoke did not roll over and Illan Meslier kept out chances from Lewis Baker, Tyrese Campbell and Josh Laurent in the second period.

Mateo Joseph saw one blocked off the line to deny Leeds a second while substitute Ben Pearson was sent off late on for the visitors.

Farke said: “For me, it is the best win in 2024 because everyone expects us to win this home game.

“Everyone expects us at Elland Road to beat each and every opponent right now against a team not in the best position and think it should be an easy win.

“It feels like in the stadium ‘we are going there for a cup of tea and a cake’ perhaps instead of this explosion we had against Leicester where everyone was on it.”

Leeds kept the heat on top two Leicester and Ipswich and will play their third league game in six days when they travel to Sheffield Wednesday on Friday night.

Farke’s side have a chance to put points on the board before their promotion rivals but the German bemoaned the congested fixture list.

He added: “Even today was our third game in six days with two tough away games and thank God the home game today.

“Four games in 10 days, I’m not sure any other teams in Europe have such a schedule but what else can we do. We have to adapt to it and try keep going and stay unbeaten.

“When you have such a schedule you cannot expect offensive fireworks and top-class games. You can’t always be at your best in this schedule – I’m happy out of the last three games we have seven points.”

Stoke boss Steven Schumacher praised his side, who remain in the bottom three of the Championship.

He said: “I think we showed some real character and stood up to some intense pressure at times.

“We didn’t fold or buckle which is a good sign from the team that they are ready for the challenge and I think in the second half we showed everyone what type of team we can be but didn’t do enough to get the equaliser we probably deserved.

“I don’t think he (Pearson) needs to get involved in the first one and the second one there is not a lot in it. It’s frustrating because we will miss Ben again.

“Iversen made some good saves tonight and he kept us in the game. He is a good goalkeeper and we will need him in the run-in.”