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Match Recap: Leeds United u23s 2-1 Newcastle United u23s

Payback time for the Leeds u23s, who beat Newcastle United 2-1 after a collapse in the reverse fixture earlier this season.

Leicester City v Leeds United - Premier League
Ian Poveda continues his return from injury and fight for a first-team place.
Photo by Plumb Images/Leicester City FC via Getty Images

Leeds United’s under-23 side beat Newcastle United in a tense affair at Thorp Arch, extending their lead at the top of The Premier League 2 Division 2 table.

The Whites lined-up with first-team players Robin Koch, Gaetano Berardi and Ian Poveda with Jamie Shackleton on the bench, with all in need of minutes as they look to complete their recovery from previous injuries. Sam Greenwood and Joe Gelhardt return to the side as do Niall Huggins and Jack Jenkins who take the places of under-18 stars Charlie Allen and Max Dean.

Having been denied a penalty kick early in the game, Joe Gelhardt managed to win a spot-kick in the 17th minute after driving past his man in the left channel. He held-off his man who piled on top of him, giving the referee no choice but to point to the penalty spot. Gelhardt stepped-up staggered his run and sent the keeper the wrong way as the ball nestled in the bottom left corner.

Leeds doubled their lead on the half-hour mark from a corner-kick taken by Joe Gelhardt on the far side. He swung the ball in, perfectly meeting the head of Charlie Cresswell who guided the ball into the top-right corner of the goal to give the young Whites a two-goal cushion.

The Toon managed to pull one back as half-time approached with a low cross sliding toward the front post, it was a race to the ball between centre-back and senior player Christian Atsu, with the striped jersey beating his man and poking the ball into the bottom-left corner.

A triple substitution was made by Leeds before the second-half began, with Olly Casey, Jamie Shackleton and Stuart McKinstry coming on in place of Ian Poveda, Gaetano Berardi and Robin Koch.

The Whites had the first chance of the second half, with Joe Gelhardt slipping a great through ball into Liam McCarron in the left-channel. He tried to sneak the ball past the oncoming goalkeeper, but the shot was well saved.

Stuart McKinstry should have re-instated Leeds’ two-goal cushion on 57 minutes as Scotsmen combined for the chance. McCarron’s high cross into the back-post was perfect for Stuart McKinstry who had a free header at point-blank range, but his finish went straight into the gloves of the keeper.

Joe Gelhardt also came close 15 minutes later as some nice build-up play found McKinstry saving possession on the goal-line on the edge of the box. He offloaded the ball to Gelhardt on the inside whose shot from a tight angle was well parried.

Newcastle countered and a long-ball over-the-top found Anderson who controlled the ball brilliantly to get past Drameh and drive at the keeper. One-on-one with the keeper and Caprile made himself big and managed a big save to keep Leeds in the lead for the time being with 15 minutes to go.

The Italian youngster was called into action again by Anderson just a couple of minutes later as Newcastle countered and found Anderson on the left channel with another long ball. He cut inside past Shackleton who had over-committed and fired the ball across Caprile’s goal, but the young keeper managed to make the save before grabbing the rebound before anyone else could reach it.

But in the end, Leeds managed to battle their way through to win the game 2-1, earning another crucial three points as they extend their lead at the top of The Premier League 2 Division 2 table to 16 points with teams below them having as many as three games in hand.

There’s still plenty of work to do for the Leeds under-23s, but to see them come so far from their 4-3 collapse against Newcastle earlier in the season to have managed the return fixture so well is a testament to the work of the players and coaches.