Leeds United’s under-23s picked-up another valuable three points against West Bromwhich Albion u23s at Thorp Arch, with the young Whites now level on points at the top of the table with table-toppers Middlesbrough still to play.
Leeds were looking to bounce back from a hugely disappointing result at Newcastle United and named a reshuffled team with some senior faces.
Kiko Casilla started between the sticks with Leif Davis starting at left-back, pushing Niall Huggins across to right back and Cody Drameh into the centre of defence.
Charlie Cresswell returned from England duty as did Greenwood on the bench as Bobby Kamwa retained the number nine shirt. Ian Poveda started as McKinstry was pulled out of the team late-on with Greenwood replacing him. Rodrigo Moreno started while first-teamers Helder Costa, Tyler Roberts and Pascal Struijk were also named on the bench.
Fresh from coming off the bench against Arsenal yesterday, Rodrigo starts up front for the U23s pic.twitter.com/WIPrXnSxjA— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 23, 2020
After a frantic start between the two teams West Brom took the lead on ten minutes. A freekick from 25 yards was poorly cleared with a skewed header, falling for the away side’s number nine who spun on the ball and finished from close range to take the lead.
Leeds looked to respond instantly with McCarron heading just wide at the back post as he met the end of a decent Poveda cross. McCarron almost got another chance minutes later with Kamwa holding up the ball well on the left side of the box. He chopped the ball across and McCarron struggled to control it properly, with the ball being cleared before the Scot could get a strike on the ball.
Bobby Kamwa came so close to equalising on 15 minutes as he received the ball on the edge of the ‘D’ from Rodrigo before dragging left and right to open some room in the box, firing just wide of the left post.
The rest of the half was hectic in the midfield with the difference being the attacking play. WBA opened up a lot more space and looked the more dangerous while the young Whites struggled to create a clear opening until the last kick of the half.
✅ Warmups done! pic.twitter.com/LRKAkHJKq3— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 23, 2020
Greenwood latched back onto the ball after a cleared cross from the right. He found Huggins who came inside and nipped the ball into the channel for Kamwa. He turned well toward the byline before squaring the ball to Rodrigo who did well to hold the ball up six yards from goal. He poked it back to Huggins who whacked the shot hard and low but just wide.
Leeds made a triple change at half-time as Rodrigo, Davis and Poveda were replaced by Roberts, Costa and Struijk. The Whites started really brightly on the front foot as the team looked much more of a cohesive and coherent unit when attacking their opposition.
A brilliant chance came to Kamwa after ten minutes as he latched onto a wonderful through ball by Drameh into the right channel, with Kamwa going near post from close range which was saved by the keeper. Costa came close minutes later as his low shot from the left spun just wide of the far post.
Leeds kept plugging away and finally found the breakthrough as Tyler Roberts finished a patient move with ten minutes to go. The Whites had the ball in and round the penalty area for a few minutes as they kept asking questions of the West Brom defence.
Costa’s ball in from the inside right broke for Huggins on the far side, who cut the ball back to Struijk who helped it on to Roberts on the edge of the box who swung his toe through the ball, ending up in the bottom left corner as Leeds finally got their well deserved equaliser.
@official_tyro! pic.twitter.com/UgFY79fagc— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 23, 2020
But Leeds didn’t let up as they stayed on the front foot and were rewarded with another goal thanks to senior substitute Helder Costa. He too received from Struijk on the left with Costa turning well and driving into the left channel of the box, before the Portuguese international nutmegged one before cutting inside and somehow blasting his shot into the far corner despite losing his balance following the cutback.
What a goal @heldercosta_! pic.twitter.com/H6FxF7fC9l— Leeds United (@LUFC) November 23, 2020
Overall, this was a game of two halves as Leeds’ attacking approach and quality hugely differed between both periods. WBA were able to make the game a frantic one in midfield and dealt with an incoherent attacking performance well in the first half, earning themselves a lead through Diaby and it could’ve been more.
In the second half Leeds really rocked the West Brom boat as the youngsters showed their better side going forward while limiting WBA to very little to feed from. Another huge win for the Leeds u23s as they put the pressure on Middlesbrough as they go into their fixture level on points at the top of the tree.