Leeds United looked to creep back up towards the playoff places with a win over their Yorkshire rivals, while a win by Barnsley FC would have seen them pull only three points behind Leeds in the table. And while Barnsely looked to add a bit of physicality to the derby match, the quality in the Leeds side shone through as the Whites cruised to an easy 2-0 victory.
Leeds started a fairly similar side to the one that lost to Wolverhampton in midweek and beat Middlesbrough this past Sunday, with Felix Wiedwald making his return to the lineup. And while he wasn’t asked to do a lot, Wiedwald got a clean sheet on his return to the lineup.
Leeds United enjoyed the bulk of the early chances with a number of good chances as Leeds earned a few corners early in the match. The work of the new “set piece guru” were in order, as the club seemed to be trying new things as they were attacking the goal.
Luke Ayling went down in the Barnsley box, but after penalty shouts were waved off, the two teams came together and exchanges pleasantries, resulting in both Ayling and Burnley’s Leicester City loanee Harvey Barnes being booked for their involvement. To be honest, it seemed that Ayling was a little harsh done by to receive a yellow, since all he did was be confronted by Barnes.
A Leeds fan has come down from the away end to give Wiedwald his cap. Sun is streaming into Wiedwald's eyes. Gratefully received.— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 25, 2017
The sun was streaming straight into the eyes of the Leeds fans behind the Leeds goal and Felix Wiedwald, who was in obvious discomfort, took a cap that was offered to him by a fan. Not all heroes wear capes, everyone.
And the generous offer of a cap must have pleased the football gods, as Samu Saiz grabbed an opening goal for the visitors. Saiz took the ball far outside the Barnsley box, dribbled past a small army of Barnsley defenders, and took a shot from outside the penalty box that seemed to fool Davies, the Barnsley keeper, and the ball landed in the back of the net.
Leeds continued to boss the match after scoring the opening goal, as Saiz had a shot go over the net, and a Pablo Hernandez free-kick failed to clear the Barnsely wall. Barnsley had a few chances, but each of their efforts were off target and never really looked very threatening.
In first half stoppage time, Gjanni Alioski made it 2-0, as he took a pass from Luke Ayling after Ayling had gotten the ball in an advanced position on the right. Alisoki dribbled for a few yards, and then took a curling effort that beat Davies to the far post, putting Leeds up 2-0 over their Yorkshire rivals. This makes four goals in his last four matches for Alioski, who has been a bright spot for Leeds in some dark times for the club these past few weeks.
Besides the goals, the story of the first half had to be Barnes, as he seemed to dodge a second yellow despite a number of bad fouls after receiving a yellow for his clash with Ayling in the first half. He was wisely subbed off at half-time by Paul Heckingbottom.
Leeds went into the break up two goals and it’s been a long time since I’ve been able to type that, so I’m all for this kind of match. Saiz and Alioski provided some class finishing in the first half, and Barnsley didnt ever really seem to be in the match at all.
Leeds started well during the second half as well. The club again did a good job of winning corners and put a lot of pressure on the Barnsley goal.
| Caleb Ekuban breaking into the Barnsley box and going close, forcing the goalkeeper into parrying it away 0-2 pic.twitter.com/rN2vJ89pDx— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 25, 2017
Ekuban got the ball in the box after a wonderful pass from Hernandez, but he was unable to get into a shooting position. Ekuban had done well to get stay onside and get into a perfect position, but he was unable to square up enough to the goal to get his shot on target. It is a chance that you’d hope a striker would be able to convert, but it was just not to be.
Hedges with a fine ball across United's box but no-one gets on the end of it. Barnsley having a bit of a spell. 10 minutes left. 0-2. #lufc— Phil Hay (@PhilHayYEP) November 25, 2017
Barnsley finally got into the match a little bit in the last 15 minutes or so of the match, with the team winning a free kick that went wide after a decent spell of attacking intent.
Caleb Ekuban came off in the 80th minute for Kemar Roofe, after a very good afternoon for the striker in his first start since the Sunderland match back in August. Conor Shaughnessy had come in earlier in the half for Eunan O’Kane, as the Irish midfielder had taken a knock and the young central defender/midfielder came on, with Vurnon Anita the only other “midfielder” on the bench for the club.
Jay-Roy Grot came on late in the match because why not, and Leeds looked to close out the match, looking to win their first Yorkshire derby of the season. Leeds kept another clean sheet with Felix Wiedwald between the sticks, so maybe he’s won the job back, right?
Man of the match has to go to Samu Saiz, as the little Spaniard once again proved his quality, scoring a wonderful opening goal for Leeds and Gjanni Alioski continued his fine run of form as well. Another three points in the bag and Leeds fans will be in a good mood for the rest of the weekend. MOT.