A look back to December, 2016.
Taking a trip back to Saturday 3rd December 2016, Ben Scott goes down memory lane by recalling a classic encounter against this coming Sunday’s Premier League opponents, Aston Villa.
Aston Villa arrived at Elland Road three days into December 2016 as the clubs would clash for the first time at Elland Road since Boxing Day in 2003, when they had played out a 1-1 draw.
It was the first time these two historic clubs had met in the second tier since 1988 and Villa’s last win at Leeds was 13 years to the month.
A healthy crowd of 32,648 packed in for the evening, live broadcast match. The early action in LS11 came after 11 minutes as the visitors took a corner and from it, Rudy Gestede had a low shot saved by Robert Green.
It would be another 11 minutes before Leeds could give the Villains a scare, as Chris Wood laid on an effort for Kemar Roofe, but he hit the ball with his right foot from the left of the box and missed.
The pair would cause much more danger as the evening wore on and Villa tired. In the last seven minutes of the half Leeds, mainly through the power and skill of Souleymane Doukara, Villa had reason to be concerned. The forward won a dangerous free-kick on the left then moments later delivered a cross that Kyle Bartley headed over from a central situation.
Seven minutes into the second half and “The Duke” - as he would become affectionately known by his teammates and supporters - was once again a threat when he met a nice ball off Ronaldo Viera. Unluckily for Doukara, his right foot effort was blocked.
On 54 minutes Green was called into action, saving an effort from Ashley Westwood, and 10 minutes later he denied another Villa effort from Gary Gardner, meaning the game remained goalless.
Three minutes later Gardner was replaced by Jack Grealish as Villa tried to change the momentum. A minute after the substitution, Kemar Roofe fired Leeds on their way to victory with a strong header from the middle of the six yard box. He met a ball swung in from Leeds’ left by Doukara, 23-year old Roofe showed quicker reactions than either of the Villa defenders positioned right by his side!
Five minutes later Doukara was given a rapturous applause as he left the field of play, replaced by Stuart Dallas. Dallas was nearly celebrating more joy for Leeds two minutes later when Wood set up Roofe for a long effort, but it was blocked again.
All this one way traffic prompted Steve Bruce into a double change, Adomah replaced by Jordan Ayew and Gestede by Gabriel Agbonlahor. Neither had the quality to save the visitors on this occasion - the only noteworthy incident was Ayew joining the previously booked Grealish in the referees’ notebook.
As the game entered stoppage time, the exuberance of Wood shone through. In the 91st minute Charlie Taylor found him with a cross from the left, Wood chest-controlled it then powered a volley from a tight angle. The venomous effort crashed back away off the body of Pierluigi Gollini.
Enter the 94th minute and Leeds attacked again. Hadi Sacko picked up play only slightly into the Villa half and raced goalbound. A few yards into the penalty area, he sent a low shot testing Gollini. The goalie could only push away from him but not away from the goal and as the ball trickled towards the net, Wood was in hot pursuit. Could he bag a goal? The answer was yes, despite Tommy Elphick’s attempt at deterring him.
It was a moment that showed the hunger of Wood, who’d finish the season with 27 goals, and Leeds as they moved up into fourth spot and left Villa in 15th.