U21 Report: Leeds United 3-1 Sunderland
Important three points at Elland Road.
Premier League 2 Division 2
Leeds United U21 3 (Joseph 17’, 87’, Perkins 36’)
Sunderland U21 1 (Lihadji 21’)
Leeds: Robles (GK), Debayo (Crew 65’), Ferguson (Monteiro 27’), Mullen, Moore, Gray (McGurk 65’), Allen, Gyabi, Joseph (C), Perkins (Spencer 79’), Snowdon. Subs not used van den Heuvel (GK).
Sunderland: Bass (GK), Huggins (Crompton 45’), Taylor (C), Johnson (Kachosa 85’), Anderson, Ekwah (Burke 45’), Lihadji, Rigg (Moore 79’) Gardiner, Kelly, Middlemas. Subs not used: Metcalf (GK).
Venue: Elland Road
Referee: Steven Copeland
Booked: Debayo, Gray, Allen, Moore (Leeds) Anderson, Kelly (Sunderland)
Leeds United Under-21s faced Sunderland Under-21s at Elland Road in their penultimate home match of the Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign.
The Whites were made to work hard for the victory against a battling Sunderland side, but their clinical nature saw them gain an important win, to restore their lead at the top of the league.
Sitting top of the table going into the match on goal difference, Paco Gallardo’s side were looking to secure an important three points in their battle for the title and promotion, with Nottingham Forest and Southampton completing the trio in contention for the league.
It was a slow start to the match at Elland Road with very few chances early on. When the game did become more lively and open up, it was Leeds who took the lead, through top-scorer Mateo Joseph!
The striker owed plenty to the work of the ever-lively Charlie Allen down the wing, as he burst forward and played in Joseph. The striker then controlled, and smashed home low into the net to put Leeds ahead.
Sunderland hit back almost immediately though, through Isaac Lihadji. After Joel Robles had initially saved well from the returning Niall Huggins who had shot, Lihadji followed up well and his strike was deflected into the net.
The next to go close in a match that now saw chances was Joe Snowdon. He found a way into a shooting position before seeing Alex Bass deny his left-footed shot with a good save.
Leeds did then retake the lead though, with another strong team move. Darko Gyabi got down the wing and cut in from the left, pulling the ball back to Sonny Perkins to slot into the top corner and restore the advantage.
Robles was forced to make a good save before the interval, denying Ben Middlemas for the visitors. The ‘keeper denied him well and that meant his side went into the break ahead.
HALF TIME: Leeds United U21 2-1 Sunderland U21
The second half started very similarly to the first in the opening 15 minutes or so, with very few chances. Robles was called upon again to deny Ellis Taylor this time, but that was it in terms of clear opportunities early on.
Sunderland were then looking dangerous and they had the majority of the chances in the second half. Robles had to be alert again to deny Taylor for as second time, as well as also making a save to deny first half scorer, Lihadji.
Changes were made on both benches and for Leeds, Sean McGurk entered the game along with Charlie Crew - replacing Archie Gray and James Debayo, after the pair had both picked up yellow cards in the match.
The crowd of 3,780 were offering plenty of support to the young Whites as they aimed to keep their lead in West Yorkshire. There were some good passages of play, but heading towards the final 15 minutes, it had been a half lacking chances for the home side.
Into the final 10 minutes and the chances did arrive, testing Sunderland goalkeeper Bass along the way. McGurk and Gyabi saw long range efforts saved, before Bass did brilliantly to make a double stop, denying Allen.
Allen would then turn provider once again, as the Whites did make it three in the final few minutes! He crossed low into the box and found Joseph who showed superb composure to fire home and secure the points.
That was to be the final action of what had been an important win for Leeds United’s Under-21s, meaning they put a three point cushion between themselves and second place heading into the final three matches of the season!
FULL TIME: Leeds United U21 3-1 Sunderland U21