U21 Report: Middlesbrough 2-4 Leeds United

Impressive win at Rockliffe Park.


Premier League 2

Middlesbrough 2 (Kavanagh 27’, Bilongo 78’)

Leeds United 4 (Joseph 60’, 75’, 90’, McGurk 73’)

Boro: Fisher (GK), Gibson (C), Bilongo, Hannah, Robinson, Stott (Cornet 63’), John, Fletcher, Kavanagh, Willis, Collins. Subs not used: Sivi, Whelan, Lindo, Swan.

Leeds: Klaesson (GK), Drameh, Moore, Spencer, Debayo (Snowdon 45’), Gyabi (McGurk 45’), Allen, Joseph (C), Perkins (Dean 82’), Gnonto (Miller 45’), McCalmont. Subs not used: Christy.

Venue: Rockliffe Park Training Ground

Referee: Michael Barlow

Booked: Robinson, Hannah, Bilongo, Fletcher (Boro) Debayo, Perkins, Joseph (Leeds)

Leeds United’s Under-21s extended their lead at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table after battling from behind in a tough match away at fourth placed Middlesbrough.

The Whites were trailing at the break, but Michael Skubala looked to his bench for the second half and saw them make a huge impact and turn the game around. Mateo Joseph scored another brilliant hat-trick and Sean McGurk netted a stunner to secure the three points.

Coming into the match, the Whites knew a win would extend their lead at the top of the table after Norwich and West Bromwich Albion had drawn on Friday night. However, in difficult conditions at Rockliffe Park Training Ground, they were up against it in the opening 45 minutes.

The home side had ambitions of going into second place and would have done so with victory, which looked possible after taking the lead midway through the first half.

Kristoffer Klaesson - between the posts for Leeds - had already made two important saves to keep out strikes from Calum Kavanagh and Fenton John, but he was eventually beaten in the 27th minute.

Boro’s top-scorer so far this season, Kavanagh, got his fifth of the campaign when he turned home at the near post following a low cross into the middle, putting his side ahead.

Skubala’s side had struggled to create chances, with the wind and wet pitch playing a factor on some occasions. However, as the game approached half-time, Alfie McCalmont had a good chance but his curling effort struck the crossbar.

The opening 45 minutes had been busy for referee Michael Barlow, as he showed five yellow cards, three for the home side and two for the visitors.

HALF TIME: Middlesbrough 1-0 Leeds United

Three changes at the break were made and they impacted almost instantly, changing the game in favour of the table-toppers. On came McGurk, joined by Amari Miller and Joe Snowdon, which saw Skubala shuffle around the positions on the pitch.

Despite the early pressure, it was the hosts who had a golden chance to double their advantage. Fresh from his first half goal, Kavanagh raced through one-on-one, but lacked the composure with his finish as he struck the post before seeing the ball go wide.

That was the let-off that sparked the Whites into action. McCalmont and McGurk combined shortly after to create a chance for Perkins, who struck well at goal, but saw his effort saved. Alert from the rebound was Joseph, who finished calmly to level the score.

Ten minutes after levelling, Leeds were then in front, and in some style. McGurk picked the ball up on the left of the pitch, 25-yards or so out, and struck an unstoppable curling effort into the far corner to put his side ahead.

Just two minutes after, Leeds had their third. Snowdon - another sub to heavily impact the match - went on a mazy run before playing Joseph. The striker had plenty of work to do but he also picked his spot and curled beautifully into the far corner to get his second and United’s third.

Boro hit back though, and made it a thrilling final few minutes of the match. Finding space at the back post, Bryant Bilongo smashed in at close range from a deep free-kick and it was game on again.

Following a lengthy stoppage earlier on for an injury, the fourth official added six minutes of added time, meaning there was still work to be done at both ends of the pitch.

Leeds won a late corner and rather than look to timewaste, McGurk played a clever quick ball to McCalmont who raced into the box and pulled the ball back for Joseph, allowing him to smash beyond Nathan Fisher again and complete his hat-trick.

The full-time whistle was blown shortly after and ended what had been a frantic, but hard-fought and entertaining second half at Rockliffe Park.

Skubala’s side move six points clear at the top of the league with this victory and will next be in league action on November 7th, at home to Newcastle United.

FULL TIME: Middlesbrough 2-4 Leeds United

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