Leeds United played a preseason friendly at Elland Road against Oxford United and were the 2-0 winners against the League One club and their former assistant manager Pep Clotet, who is now in charge of the U’s. Leeds looked dangerous throughout the match and were able to keep a clean sheet after some fine defending from the makeshift backline, as Pontus Jansson was dropped in preparation for the opening game against Bolton. Jansson is suspended for the first two matches of the season, the opening weekend against Bolton and the first League Cup match against Port Vale.
The starting XI for Leeds United today should represent approximately what the club will use for the opening day at Bolton Wanderers. A few surprises in the lineup, as Kalvin Phillips and Eunan O’Kane get the nod in central midfield while Everton loanee Matthew Pennington partners with Liam Cooper in the centre of defense. Luke Ayling at right back and Gaetano Berardi at left back finished out the back four, while Chris Wood started up top in a 4-2-3-1, with Kemar Roofe and Gianni Alioski playing on the wings.
Kemar Roofe ran riot in the first half over his former club, running into good positions with the ball, getting into good shooting positions. He did well from the left side getting past players to get into attacking areas.
Alioski and Roofe switched sides at some point during the first half, and Alioski continued to break down the right side of the Oxford defence, looking deadly as well. The good play of the midfield was rewarded when O’Kane did good work in the midfield to get the ball to Roofe who did well to stick the ball home.
Leeds started well in the second half, with a really good move from Hernandez to get a cross across the front of the goal for Oxford keeper Eastwood to deny Wood right at the front of goal. Alioski also got a good cross into the box a few minutes later, but Roofe’s header only found the ground and Eastwood was able to collect easily.
Hernandez continued to look lively at the start of the first half, as all of the good attacking play from Leeds seemed to involve him and Roofe, although Wood really should have put Hernandez’s cross into the back of the net and doubled the scoreline.
63' Triple change for Leeds, Stuart Dallas, Samu Saiz and Hadi Sacko replace Alioski, Roofe and Hernandez 1-0— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 29, 2017
The changes started coming in the second half, with Stuart Dallas, Samuel Saiz, and Hadi Sacko all coming on in a straight swap for the attacking trio of Alioski, Hernandez, and Roofe. Saiz made some nice plays, including doing well to get into a good position that he ended up forcing a ball towards the wing that was turned over. He also picked Wood out in the box with a great ball, but Wood’s shot was blocked.
“Wood’s shot was blocked” was pretty much the theme of the match by the way.
More changes were to come for the team, and Stuart Dallas did well to put the ball into the top corner cutting in from the left with Berardi overlapping well behind him with no one in front of him to disrupt the shot. A fine goal from the Northern Ireland international indeed.
84' Dallas beat the offside trap, before curling an effort from the left edge of the box, into the top right corner 2-0— Leeds United (@LUFC) July 29, 2017
Caleb Ekuban did a nice back heel in the 87th minute to set up Sacko, but the winger was only able to hit the side netting on the subsequent shot on goal. Leeds really showed their depth and quality as the game continued on in the second half, as the Oxford substitutes chased the ball around most of the last 30 minutes or so.
Another good tackle from Pennington on Thomas to clear a dangerous attack for a corner. 2-0. 90 mins. #lufc— Lee Sobot (@LeeSobotYEP) July 29, 2017
Pennington had two fantastic defensive efforts to keep the clean sheet, including sending the ball out for a corner when an Oxford player broke clean on goal in the dying seconds of the second half.
Man of the Match would have to go to either Eunan O’Kane or Kemar Roofe, as O’Kane played well in the middle of the pitch, playing good balls for the wingers to get to the attack. Roofe caused problems all over the pitch for the U’s and was well rewarded with the opening goal of the match.
Wood looked a bit snakebit in the match, missing a few chances. Saiz looked good on the ball when he came on and just needs some time to create a rhythm and understand with the other players in the squad before he really starts to shine. Overall, a good preseason performance for the team, although the team seemed a bit rusty in final third, missing a few good chances to pile on the goals. A win is a win, even in the meaningless preseason matches.
Oh, and LUTV needs to get sorted. Like today. We can’t be paying good money for a service that doesn’t work. This is annoying during preseason, but it will be unacceptable during the season. However, this really was the only negative today, so all in all, a good ending to preseason. MOT