Leeds United’s youth crop were flexing their muscles as they moved up to second in the PL2 second division with a win over Crystal Palace at Thorp Arch.
After their win against Norwich last week, Leeds went with a younger lineup without senior players as they prepare for their Monday night clash against Leicester City.
Joe Gelhardt returned to the starting eleven while the return of Nohan Kenneh from injury was the main attraction ahead of the game. Impressive under-18s Max McMillan and Max Dean also started as well as Huggins returning at left-back.
With a first team game tomorrow, there's a number of changes to the #LUFC U23s side that defeated Norwich 2-0 last week pic.twitter.com/WH47SeUoX5— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
It was a rough and tumble start at Thorp Arch as the two sides demanded a high tempo of play from eachother. Leeds pushed most in the first eight minutes and were rewarded with a goal, as Cody Drameh received the ball on the right side from Kenneh. His swinging cross toward the front post was seemingly flicked on by Palace defender, Watson in front of McMillan and the ball ended up in the far corner.
8 minutes and there's Drameh! pic.twitter.com/oXa1EwVm2x— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
Palace came close to striking back a couple minutes later, as the away side had opened space well on the left. The Palace number 7 cut inside onto his right foot before whipping a nice shot across Caprile’s goal, as the Italian flew across his line to parry the ball away.
Leeds took control of the game from here, with Gelhardt and McKinstry working the keeper for The Whites, while Drameh had a cross bounce off the crossbar.
Palace came close to equalising as the half came to a close, with Palace’s Banks breaking forward toward the right channel. His cutback caused a scramble in the Leeds box as Kenneh’s clearance going only as far as the loitering striker on the edge of the box who fired into a pile of white jerseys who saw it out for a corner.
Leeds went up the other end and were awarded a penalty kick following a handball from Banks as he tried to clear the ball from a corner toward the front post. Joe Gelhardt stepped-up and sent the keeper the wrong way as his left-footed strike nestled into the right hand corner.
Joe Gelhardt scores a penalty just before the break to give the U23s a 2-0 lead over Crystal Palace— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
The home side came out of the blocks flying in the second half, with Max Dean coming close as he provided the early danger for Palace to deal with. Gelhardt was on the edge of the box and nipped the ball into Dean on his right. Dean cut inside onto his left as his shot across goal was well saved.
The next goal was crucial at this point in the game, and Palace were the ones who got it, with Flanagan scoring a belter from distance, smashing the ball with his left into the top right corner from roughly 25 yards, hitting the post on the way in.
Leeds kept pushing their opponents though, building up brilliantly beginning with Dean winning the ball deep on the near side. McMillan dropped deep to receive the ball before offloading it to Gelhardt. His long ball was brilliantly chested down in the stride of McKinstry in a central position.
Huggins drifted wide and took on the reverse pass from McKinstry and drove the ball across goal from the left side with his shot well saved.
Palace came close themselves as a rebounded shot was blazed over the bar from close range. Leeds took the warning and regained their two goal advantage on 55 minutes, as Joe Gelhardt received the ball from McMillan ahead of the left channel 20 yards from goal. He beat three players as he weaved between a few Palace jerseys before firing across goal into the bottom right corner as he challenges Flanagan for ‘goal of the game’.
What a goal Joffy! pic.twitter.com/knnsSs6MX9— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
Leeds kept attacking Palace as the club’s footballing culture demands, and they grabbed a fourth on 82 minutes through Max Dean who continues his impressive start to the season having unexpectedly stepped-up from the under-18s. Leif Davis sent the swinging cross in with his left, with the ball breaking into the path of Dean from a poor clearance. His prodded shot hit the woodwork but the youngster finished things off at the second time of asking from close range.
Right place, right time! Max Dean! pic.twitter.com/3D9XRTQU1Z— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 1, 2020
The Whites almost had a fifth following some stellar play from the home side. McKinstry whipped a ball in Dean on the edge of the box who cushioned the ball into the path of Huggins on the inside right of the box. He cut back onto his left, sending a sliding defender wayward before returning the ball to Dean whose shot was blocked.
Another fantastic result and performance from the young whites who move up to second in the PL2 second division. There were some particularly strong performances in the team, with Drameh playing well as usual, Dean and McMillan proving themselves at the next level while Kenneh and McCarron returned from injury with strong and lively performances.
Joe Gelhardt takes the ‘Man of the Match’ award, not only for his two goals but also for his brilliance on the ball and constant work in the midfield to keep Leeds on the front foot.