Leeds United’s under-23s went 13 points clear atop of the Premier League 2 Division 2 table with a victory away at Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The Whites lined-up with some backup from senior players returning from injury as Rodrigo Moreno and Gaetano Berardi started, while both Max Dean and Charlie Allen stepped-up from the under-18s once again.
Charlie Cresswell returned to the starting lineup with Liam McCarron moving to left-back while Sam Greenwood and Ian Poveda made the bench. Joe Gelhardt, Jack Jenkins and Niall Huggins were not included in the squad, presumably because they were training with the first team. Crysencio Summerville served his one-match suspension in this game.
Leeds opened the scoring inside six minutes after winning a free-kick on the left side of the box. Rodrigo came out from the pile of white and orange jerseys to meet the ball from McKinstry on the edge of the box before firing a sizzling strike across goal to give Leeds the lead.
The young Whites were awarded a penalty-kick on 14 minutes as Charlie Allen slipped an excellent ball through to Max Dean who went down under a clumsy challenge, giving the referee no choice but to point to the spot. Rodrigo took the penalty and rifled the ball into the bottom-right corner to get his second goal of the afternoon.
Elia Caprile was forced into action for the first time in the 24th minute, with the Wolves right-winger cutting inside and firing an excellent shot toward the far corner, with the young Italian keeper matching it with a great diving save.
Just moments later, the Wolves keeper was challenged at the other end as the ball was worked into the feet of Stuart McKinstry in the penalty area. No more that seven yards from goal, McKinstry unleashed a vicious strike toward the near post having been held at a stand-still by the Wolves defender in front of him. The keeper was well-placed to block the shot from flying into the roof of the net.
A good chance then fell to Charlie Allen soon after as the Leeds attack begun with Berardi who shifted the ball out to Drameh on the right. He sent an excellent pass down the line to McKinstry who beat his man before latching on to the ball and firing the ball across goal. It flew past everyone in the box before landing at the feet of Allen who drilled the ball just wide of the post.
Caprile was then forced into another great save after the Wolves number 7 gave Leeds yet another warning shot, putting immense power into his right-footed shot across the keeper who was able to fly across his line and parry the ball out of play.
The Whites kept coming though as some brilliant play almost led to a third as Leeds has Wolves penned into their own box. Kenneh recovered possession on the edge of the box near the left side, he found Kamwa ahead of him in the left channel of the box. Kamwa exquisitely back-heeled the ball onto the run of McCarron who put the ball in as the ball held-up perfectly on the goal-line. The Wolves keeper flew out to punch the cross back into the danger area as neither Dean nor McKinstry managed to reach the ball before an orange jersey.
The Whites should’ve been three-up on 40 minutes as a McKinstry free-kick from the right found Charlie Cresswell at the far post with a running start on his marker. He met the header with perfect timing but couldn’t direct the ball away from the clutches of the goalkeeper from close range.
If Bielsa could build a player for his system, he'd build Drameh.— FocusOnLeeds (@FocusOnLeeds) March 5, 2021
A couple of minutes went by and all of a sudden, Wolves should’ve had one back. A long ball over the top came to the Wolves number 11 who controlled the ball perfectly before beating two flying Leeds defenders who committed naively into the challenge. He lined-up the shot but it was Nohan Kenneh who saved the day as he timed his block to perfection and kept the score at 2-0.
At the other end, Rodrigo came just inches away from scoring his hat-trick. Max Dean tried to cross the ball into the far post from the left channel, with the deflection finding the head of Rodrigo whose header from point-blank range was brilliantly blocked and cleared on the goal-line.
Into the second-half and substitutes combined as Poveda robbed Wolves of possession in the midfield before driving toward the box and offloading the ball to Sam Greenwood on his right. Greenwood fired his shot across the keeper who parried the ball away for a corner-kick.
The Leeds youngsters went on a rampage of attacking football, as wolves hardly had a sniff for the first half-hour of the second-haIt would be Ian Povedalf. Max Dean had chances laid-off to him by the likes of McKinstry and Poveda but was unable to take advantage. Greenwood also caused some problems but the true focal point of Leeds’ attack was Ian Poveda.
The 20-year-old was a man on a mission, driving at the Wolves left-back and giving him the runaround as he came close to scoring himself. His pace and energy brought about a spell of dominance in Leeds’ play but The Whites still had work to do.
It would be Ian Poveda who continued to drive Leeds forward, winning a free-kick on the edge of the box with five minutes to go. Sam Greenwood stepped-up to hit it and his excellent strike dipped on to the top of the crossbar.
Poveda then appeared moments later, latching on to a loose ball in the penalty area before firing a great shot toward the near post, forcing the Wolves keeper into another good save.
In the end, this was a must-win game for the Leeds youngsters and they did just that in excellent fashion. It really should’ve been four or five-nil rather than just 2-0, but you can’t really complain when you’ve secured a crucial three points.
There were some fantastic performances in The Whites team, Rodrigo’s dominant display is to be expected at this level but Charlie Allen was in quite a different boat. This was one of few starts in the under-23s and he was excellent at both ends of the pitch, nipping into challenges and keeping the ball rolling, he and Nohan Kenneh kept Leeds ticking in midfield.
The Leeds under-23s now sit 13-points clear at the top of The Premier League 2 Division 2 table with the teams below having one or more games in hand.