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Match Recap: Aston Villa u23s 1-2 Leeds United u23s

A huge win gives the Leeds under-23s the PL2 Div. 2 title with two games left to spare.

Manchester City v Leeds United - Premier League
Joe Gelhardt started the game as the second top-scorer in the league, behind Villa’s Louie Barry.
Photo by Tim Keeton - Pool/Getty Images

Leeds United’s under-23s will spend next season in The Premier League 2 Division 1 after winning the division 2 title away at Aston Villa.

The Whites lined up with the usual backline of Drameh, Cresswell, Casey and Huggins with Adam Forshaw being the only senior player in the Leeds squad as he continues his comeback from long-term injury.

Leeds’ big-three of Greenwood, Gelhardt and Summerville started too, as did Jack Jenkins and Bobby Kamwa with Nohan Kenneh, Liam McCarron, Stuart McKinstry and Charlie Allen featuring on the bench. The backup goalkeeper was Van den Heuvel.

Sam Greenwood opened the scoring inside four minutes with yet another belter of a free-kick having scored against West Brom and in a friendly against York City. Summerville was fouled roughly 25-yards from goal left-of-centre. Greenwood whipped the ball over the wall and into the top-left corner to give Leeds the lead in style.

Joe Gelhardt then won a penalty kick in the 7th minute after being fouled on the left channel of the box. However, Gelhardt could not equal the PL2 Division 2 top-scorer Louie Barry from the spot as Jed Steer saved low to his bottom-left corner to keep the score at 1-0, with Bobby Kamwa’s rebound also impressively saved.

The Whites kept the intense energy up but were met with the steel of a more senior Villa back-four. Joe Gelhardt came close from distance on 32 minutes after Caprile commanded his area well in claiming a high ball from a Villa free-kick. Breaking quickly, he found Drameh who drove forward before slowing down and firing the ball into Gelhardt on the inside. He took a touch before lining up the shot from 25-yards, forcing an excellent diving save from the keeper to stop it from flying into the top-right corner.

Joe Gelhardt surprisingly came off at half-time and Liam McCarron came so close to doubling Leeds’ lead five minutes into the second-half. Drameh drove forward down the right-side before slipping a perfectly weighted pass through to Summerville on the right channel of the box. He cut the ball inside to Greenwood who took his time before striking across goal, miskicking it into the path of the sliding McCarron at the back post who didn’t manage to time his finish quite right as the ball skewed wide.

Villa came even closer three minutes later as Aaron Ramsey (the PES reincarnation) drove straight through the centre of the field and lashed a fierce low strike across Caprile. The young Italian was beaten on this occasion, but the ball spun wide in a big warning shot for the Leeds youngsters with a lot of work to do.

The young Whites took the hint and promptly doubled their lead a few minutes later. Summerville seemed trapped on the right-hand side momentarily, but we know all too well that Summerville has the confidence and ability to break the press on his own at this level. He got to the goal-line before cutting the ball across the penalty area, with Jack Jenkins meeting the end of the flying Dutchman’s cross. His first attempt was blocked on the line but his rebound couldn’t be kept out. Perhaps there is a no better time to score your first goal of the season.

But it wouldn’t be plain sailing for Leeds as captain Charlie Cresswell was sent-off with a second bookable offence with a late challenge on the edge of the box. You could have no arguments, and he left Leeds with a big job to do for the final 15-20 minutes of the game. Bobby Kamwa was replaced by Nohan Kenneh to close-out the game.

With six minutes to go, Villa piled on the pressure as Ramsey scored an excellent free-kick of his own from the edge of the box, swinging the ball well past the wall and into the bottom-right corner.

The 92nd minute brought a flash where it seemed like The Villains had snatched an equaliser, with two lads called to step-up in the biggest moment of the season. Caprile matched a brilliantly headed corner delivery with a top save, with Casey flying in to block the rebound and keep the Leeds lead intact.

They secured the three points and the league title that came with it, with Jack Jenkins’ first goal of the season giving Leeds the crucial victory.