The Whites named several senior players in the starting 11, with Pablo Hernandez, Kiko Casilla, Pascal Struijk and Ian Poveda entering the fold with new boy Raphinha gets his first start in a Leeds jersey after making two cameo appearances against Wolves and Aston Villa.
Leeds opened the scoring inside three minutes following some excellent football starting with the defence before Drameh and Hernandez exchanged passes on the right side before the Spaniard lifted the ball over the top for Roberts in the right channel.
He crossed the ball in and there was a scramble as the ball was headed up into the air and Poveda thumped the ball home from close range.
Norwich responded a couple of minutes later and the ball was brought forward by the Norwich number 9 who slipped in the oncoming winger whose side-footed shot curled wide of the far post.
They bombed forward again on eleven minutes after nicking the ball in the midfield. Norwich’s number 10 drove forward as reinforcements arrived. It was shifted out to the left as the away side found space on the right side, with Cresswell flying in to block the shot with a slide tackle.
Norwich got even closer to equalising in the 13th minute as Cresswell lost the ball in the centre circle which opened space for the number 10 to drive into. Struijk almost recovered the centre back position but the shot was fired and it went just wide of the left post.
A good chance fell to Jack Jenkins on 20 minutes as he went flying forward ahead of Hernandez on the right. Hernandez came inside and tried to find Roberts but the block fell to Jenkins on the right channel, with the tight angled shot being well saved by the Norwich keeper.
Drameh provided the danger moments later, as a lovely cross-field pass from Raphinha came to Hernandez who offloaded possession to Drameh who was bombing forward on the right. He cut back on the edge of the box before looking to whip a shot across goal with his left but it was no problem for the man between the sticks.
Norwich had the ball in the net in the 24th minute as they were rewarded for their high pressing on Leeds’ play-out, as Poveda’s pass across the box toward Casey was intercepted and cut back for an easy goal for the Norwich frontman. Luckily for Leeds the goal was disallowed for offside.
Ian Poveda came very close to doubling the Leeds lead, with Raphinha at the forefront of a great Leeds attack. The box became a scramble zone before the ball broke out to Poveda near the edge of the penalty area before shifting the ball onto his left side and unleashing a powerful low strike which was well parried by McCracken in goal.
Leeds did double their lead with just five minutes left in the half, as Roberts dropped all the way back to his own third and won the ball with a great tackle. He instantly turned and sent a perfect ball into the path of Raphinha who raced onto the ball, shifted away from the defender onto his right foot before sliding the ball home underneath the outcoming goalkeeper.
Leeds started the second half really well as they looked to push Norwich even further. Raphinha came close to scoring as Poveda and Roberts played a great one-two on the edge of the box in really tight spaces, nutmegging two Norwich defenders is the process. Poveda then found Raphinha to his right whose left footed shot was well saved.
The Whites relentlessly pushed Norwich, as Raphinha once again came close asthe hour mark approached. Pablo Hernandez was on the near left hand side, he swung a masterful ball into the box for Raphinha who was positioned well for the header on the penalty spot but the effort skewed over the top.
The Brazilian nearly scored again a few minutes later as Cody Drameh played a nice one-two on the right with Poveda before cutting the ball back to Raphinha on the edge of the box. He was in loads of space but shouldn’t have taken a touch which ultimately took the chance away from his clutches this time.
Struijk switched to left-wing back in the second halfas the dynamic between him and Davis on the left seemed like an Ayling-esque overlapping centre-back style. The Dutchman showed his danger as he first forced a great save from his effort at the back post from an excellent corner kick.
The second chance came from pure filth at the feet of Ian Poveda as he sent the Norwich left-back to the deck before finding Struijk on the edge of the box whose left-footed volley swerved over the bar.
In the end Raphinha was by far the best player on the pitch, as expected in fairness. But what else did we learn from this game?
If anything it reinforced that Roberts is much better as a striker rather than a midfielder. he showed once again how good he is when dropping into the midfield as the extra man, playing the role that causes havoc for opposition midfielders, allowing him to pick a pass and then attack goal.
Poveda was fantastic and seems to be showing that he is perhaps showing early signs of the ability to replace Pablo Hernandez when he retires. His skills on the ball his intelligent passing is really exciting, especially considering he’s just 20-years old.
Speaking of Hernandez, the senior Spaniard also played well and showed much improved fitness.
Jack Jenkins also deserves a special mention, as he is another player alongside Cresswell who has broken into this under-23 side and looks like we could be seeing him in the senior team sometime soon. His energetic play and strong ability on the ball makes for another exciting number eight among Leeds’ plethora of young midfielders.
Mark Jackson’s side now sit 3rd in the table with teams above and below still to play, as the Leeds under-23s sit just two points off the top of the pile.