In all of the gloom of losing out on the playoff places last year in truly dismal fashion, it can be easy to forget that Leeds actually had a pretty decent League Cup run last season, finally being bounced out by Liverpool in the quarterfinals. Leeds United, along with Newcastle United, were the longest surviving non-Premier League clubs (well, Hull City made it further, but they were technically a Premier League club last year) in the competition.
So how did Leeds do it last year and will they do better this year?
Leeds played Fleetwood Town at the Highbury Stadium last year and escaped on penalties after the match went to extra time. While it was a nerve-racking affair, Leeds came through the match with a victory and Rob Green provided the heroics, saving the Fisherman’s final penalty to send the Whites through.
This match is probably best remembered for Tyler Denton’s first senior goal for the club, the only goal in the match between Leeds and Luton Town. The game should have perhaps been put away before Denton’s wonder strike, but in football, all’s well that ends well, right?
Leeds drew fellow Championship side Blackburn Rovers at home in the third round of the League Cup last year. The match was played only a week after the Whites had beaten the Rovers at home in the Championship, and Leeds was able to once again get past the Lancashire club. Chris Wood came off the bench to seal the 1-0 win late in the match for the 2nd straight Cup clean sheet for former Leeds keeper Marco Silvestri.
This was perhaps the most famous of all of the ties in last year’s League Cup run. Leeds went on the road to Norwich City and won in dramatic fashion on penalties. Wood’s heroics were once again confirmed as he scored in extra time to send the game to penalties after Leeds were reduced to 10 men after Lewie Coyle was forced off the pitch with an injury after Leeds had used all three of their substitutes.
This is where the party ended for Leeds. A journey to Anfield is never easy, and facing a Liverpool side that was sent to outscore their opponents, the 2-0 loss to Liverpool didn’t do Leeds justice. Leeds created chances, but against a team like Liverpool, wasted chances would not go unpunished. It was a hopeful moment for the club, being able to hang with a Top Six Premier League club, if even for a little while.
So how will Leeds do this season in the newly minuted Carabao Cup? Christiansen and the board seem to agree that the club is going to compete in every single competition it can this year, and the team has the squad depth to achieve its goals. And while League Two Port Vale may not be the most exciting of opponents, it might be a good chance for some of the other names on the Leeds squad to get a chance to shine.
So will Leeds see off the challenge and progress? Or will Leeds be “cupset” by the Staffordshire club? Tune in to find out.