Report from Sunday's win over Aston Villa at Thorp Arch.
Premier League 2
Leeds United 3 (Kamwa 40’, Greenwood p42’, Roberts p72’)
Aston Villa 2 (Philogene-Bidace 25’, Wright 39’)
Leeds: Caprile, Dramah, Davies (Poveda 45’), Struijk (Jenkins 45’), Cresswell, Casey, Kamwa, Greenwood, Gelhardt, Hernandez (Roberts 45’), Huggins. Subs not used: Christy, Kenneh.
Booked: Drameh (Leeds)
Venue: Thorp Arch
A fightback from Mark Jackson’s side saw them take first place in the Premier League 2 table. Villa found themselves with a two-goal lead, but the three points were sealed with goals from Bobby Kamwa, Sam Greenwood and Tyler Roberts which sent the Whites top of the league.
The game got underway under constant rain at Thorp Arch, a key factor in a first half that would see the surface come into play.
Both teams were looking to use the wet turf below to them to slide efforts on goal against one-another, with the visitors being the first in the match to test Elia Caprile in the Whites’ net. He dealt with that effort well, as did England goalkeeper Tom Heaton when he was called into action straight down the other end from Niall Huggins trying his luck.
Continuing his return from an injury lay-off, Hernandez looked to pick up the ball in space and get his teammates opportunities to level proceedings. He did however have a couple of efforts of his own, Heaton again showing his quality to deny both attempts.
When Jaden Philogene-Bidace picked the ball up 30 yards out, he raced towards goal and hit a low effort which did fly off the surface and into the back of the net, despite Caprile getting a hand to it. Villa were then in the ascendancy and approaching half-time, doubled their lead. Tyreik Wright found space at the back of the box, took a touch and neatly curled an effort into the top corner of the net.
Just a minute later, the Whites were back in the game. An in-swinging corner fell to Kamwa, who was alert enough to fire into the bottom corner. Like at the other end, the ‘keeper got a hand to it but the moisture on the ball meant it slid into the back of the net.
The goal gave Jackson’s side much needed confidence. Straight from kick-off, another attack saw Callum Rowe handle inside the area following a cross and the referee was left in no doubt that a spot-kick should be awarded. Greenwood stepped up and smashed his penalty low and hard, to level the score.
One final chance before the interval fell the way of the visitors. Philogene-Bidace, fresh from his goal earlier in the game, hit a well-struck free-kick onto Caprile’s crossbar and much to the delight of the ‘keeper the whistle went instantly after for the break.
HALF TIME: Leeds United 2-2 Aston Villa
Jackson made three changes to his side at the interval, a move that may be seen unusual for some, but one that is quite the norm for Leeds United U23s outfit. Leif Davis, Pascal Struijk and Hernandez were all replaced, with Ian Poveda, Jack Jenkins and Roberts all entering the play.
The first attack was made by the visitors, looking to regain the lead they had lost in the first period. Wright - who was one of the first half scorers - raced through one on one and hit a powerful shot at goal, only to be denied by a superb diving save by Caprile. Heaton would then produce the same quality down the other end, once again denying Gelhardt and then Greenwood moments later.
With 20 minutes remaining, Leeds completed the comeback and went ahead in the match for the first time. Kamwa was racing into the area to collect a pass from Roberts, but was tripped as he did so and the Whites were awarded a second penalty. Roberts picked up the ball himself and made no mistake, coolly slotting into the bottom corner.
The Whites were then looking to extend the advantage, against a Villa side who were now struggling to contain the tricky and link-up play of the Leeds forward line. Gelhardt went close again with the ‘keeper only able to watch as the ball trickled wide, before Heaton showed why he is regularly in the England squad, making a stunning save to deny Olly Casey’s header.
Roberts and Heaton battled again as the game entered its final stages, with the Villa man coming out on top, however there was little response from the Villains down the other end meaning that Roberts had already netted the winner with his penalty.
The full-time whistle sounded and sent Jackson’s hard-working outfit to the top of the table with another hard-earned three points at Thorp Arch.
FULL TIME: Leeds United 3-2 Aston Villa