Leeds United’s under-23s took another victory and clean-sheet from Thorp Arch as they beat Stoke City 1-0 thanks to the winning goal from Diego Llorente, keeping Leeds top of the tree in The Premier League 2 Division 2 table.
The Whites came out with a very strong starting line-up as the first-team have a ten day gap between matches, resulting in several senior players entering the team. Diego Llorente is looking to build fitness and sharpness after a tough start to his Leeds career, while Helder Costa is looking to work his way back into the team.
Tyler Roberts is in a similar position while Ian Poveda is looking to build on his promising start to the season. Kalvin Phillips also started having missed Leeds’ last game due to suspension while some of the best young performers filled the rest of the line-up. Despite scoring a hat-trick against Burnley last week, Crysencio Summerville started on the bench.
First team stars Llorente, Phillips, Costa, Roberts and Poveda all start for Mark Jackson's side today pic.twitter.com/wDzDTgo4rz— Leeds United (@LUFC) January 18, 2021
Leeds’ first chance came on the two minute mark as Diego Llorente confidently brought the ball forward before finding Greenwood ahead of him. Greenwood drove toward the right channel before cutting inside on the edge of the box with several bodies ahead of him. He found some space to shoot on his left-foot but his low strike drilled just past the bottom-left post.
As the game approached ten minutes Digeo Llorente showed a quite different part to his game. Leeds’ initial attack broke down on the edge of the box before the experienced Spaniard bulldozed his way in front of the Stoke man to take possession before unleashing a fierce volley toward the top-left corner as it dipped just over the bar from around 35-yards from goal.
Diego Llorente’s strong start was rewarded with a goal as he opened the scoring on 27 minutes. Helder Costa’s corner-kick was cleared only as far as Kalvin Phillips on the edge of the left channel. He played a one-two with Poveda before swinging the ball in toward the far post, with Diego Llorente rising highest and opening the scoring for the young Whites.
Sam Greenwood came so close to adding a second before half-time and the ball came into Tyler Roberts from the edge of the box. With his back to goal Roberts managed to offload possession into the path of the oncoming Sam Greenwood whose shot was well saved by the goalkeeper. Tyler Roberts came close to scoring himself from the resulting corner, as he nodded Helder Costa’s cross wide of the far-left post.
A triple-change was made at half-time for The Whites as senior players Kalvin Phillips, Diego Llorente and Tyler Roberts were replaced by Oli Casey, Nohan Kenneh and Stuart McKinstry which moved Sam Greenwood to striker, a position he hasn’t played in several weeks for the Leeds u23s.
Stoke’s first big chance came on 68 minutes as they came inches from scoring. Stoke built the play well, ending in a brilliant cross from the right to find Varian at the front post who somehow blazed his stretching finish over the bar from inside the six-yard-box.
The Whites came just as close to responding a few minutes later as Costa slipped the ball into Leif Davis on the left channel who managed to stretch to cut the ball back into Greenwood who twisted and turned his way into some room before his deflected shot bounced off the crossbar and just past the far post.
Stoke came close to equalising in the closing minutes as Caprile gave the ball away in a dangerous area, leading to Sparrow heading off the crossbar. He had another a few minutes later with Caprile saving on this occasion.
Leeds then should’ve finished the game off at the very last as Niall Huggins was put through on goal by Helder Costa. Huggins’ finish was well-saved but spilled into the path of Greenwood who rounded the keeper but couldn’t finish from a tight angle.
The Whites managed to see the game out nonetheless as they remain top of The Premier League 2 Division 2 table, with strong performances from Diego Llorente, Helder Costa, Nohan Kenneh and Sam Greenwood to name a few.