The Leeds United under-23s beat 3rd-placed Reading at Thorp Arch in a crucial match that saw them extend their lead at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table to 13 points.
The Whites started with just a couple senior players in the team with Casilla and Davis joining Nohan Kenneh, Charlie Cresswell, Olly Casey and Cody Drameh in defence. Joe Gelhardt started up top while Jack Jenkins was pushed to the ‘number 8’ spot in midfield.
3 changes to the U23s side that defeated Sunderland, with Casilla, Davis and Cresswell starting pic.twitter.com/11j2QbB7mD— Leeds United (@LUFC) February 15, 2021
The first real chance came to Leeds inside six minutes as an excellent free-kick from the right found Olly Casey whose powerful header skewed just inches wide of the far post.
Joe Gelhardt was denied a stonewall penalty on 27 minutes as he charged at two defenders on the right channel of the box. He got between the two and cut inside in a very tight space, and was taken down in the process as his trailing leg was taken out without contact on the ball. Despite the referee’s clear view of the incident, he waved play on.
The Leeds youth kept pushing though and were rewarded with a goal as half-time approached. Crysencio Summerville continued his brilliant form going forward as his looping cross from the right was perfect for Liam McCarron who finished brilliantly to give Leeds the lead.
And it didn’t stop there as The Whites doubled their lead just one minute later as Stuart McKinstry robbed the Reading man with the ball breaking for Gelhardt. He turned well and took on two defenders and lost the ball, but it broke for the oncoming McKinstry who drilled the shot into the near corner, catching the keeper by surprise.
Reading started the second half strongly but gave it all away in the blink of an eye as Joe Gelhardt’s press from the front found the keeper under pressure and showing too much of the ball to the Leeds striker. He nipped in to challenge from behind and the ball broke for Stuart McKinstry again who had an easy finish, rolling the ball home from the edge of the penalty area.
A double chance came to Leeds on the hour mark as some nice play on the left put McCarron through on the left channel of the box. His lifted finish was put behind by the goalkeeper with the resulting corner-kick meeting Summerville to recover at the far post. He fired the ball back across as space opened up around the six-yard box, but there were no takers on this occasion.
Reading weren’t going unheard though, and they warned Leeds of their danger on 71 minutes as The R’s came very close to piling a bit of pressure on. An excellent drive through the midfield and his shot across goal beat the keeper but was deflected just inches wide.
Moments later, Nohan Kenneh gave the ball away in his own third with Reading’s number 12 through on goal, with Kiko Casilla getting the young defender out of jail with a fantastic stop which pushed the ball onto the outside of the far post.
But Leeds saw out the game and the three points as they go 13 points clear at the top of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table.