FT Leeds United 0-1 Aston Villa— Graham Smyth (@GrahamSmyth) July 17, 2022
Action packed but marred by that injury to Gray and a referee out of his depth.
A Danny Ings penalty in the second half was enough for a 1-0 win, after Illan Meslier saved a Phillipe Coutinho penalty in the first half.
Leeds started the brighter of the two sides, and the first chance came in the fourth minute when Jack Harrison was brought down by excellent footballer and all around wonderful person Tyrone Mings (thanks for the block). Harrison took the free-kick himself, but skied it.
Aston Villa grew into the game after the first 10 minutes, starting to be able to get some space out wide and get the ball forward. Their first effort in anger came after 18 minutes when Leon Bailey had a shot blocked from the edge of the box.
Leeds went close in the 20th minute. Good football saw Leif Davis play Jack Harrison in down the left, he found Aaronson who in turn found Dan James. James’ first shot was blocked, but his second forced Robin Olsen into a good save. Leeds won back-to-back corners from the save, but Robin Koch’s header from the second was easily caught by Olsen.
Aston Villa got a penalty for handball against Tyler Adams, for a ball that clearly hit his chest, boos rang around the stadium when the replay was shown.
Phillipe Coutinho stepped up to take, but Illan Meslier saved both the penalty and the rebound - world class goalkeeping from the Frenchman, also have to say the follow-up from Coutinho was terrible.
Two minutes later - Ollie Watkins went clean through on goal from a Coutinho pass, but Meslier made a save that was every bit as good as we had just seen from the penalty.
Leeds had their best chance of the half on 31 minutes. Rasmus Kristensen won the ball well, Brenden Aaronson put Patrick Bamford through but his shot was saved well by Olsen, the rebound fell to Dan James - but he screwed his shot wide.
Both teams had moments where they could have done more, but neither had any real chances and the sides went in at half-time 0-0.
Aston Villa changed almost their entire outfield side at half-time, leaving Olsen in goal and Calum Chambers at right centre-back. Pascal Struijk replaced Diego Llorente at left centre-back for the Whites.
Leeds won the ball high and got Dan James in down the right, but his cross was just behind Patrick Bamford - a minute later Aston Villa had a chance to break and Danny Ings had the ball in the net, but he was offside - the Leeds defenders held a good line to catch the striker. Ings had another effort from a good John McGinn free-kick - Ings was offside again but this time it wasn’t given - but he hit the side netting at the near post.
Robin Olsen made another good save on 58 minutes. A Leeds corner was recycled and Marc Roca put in a good low cross, Dan James met it first time but Olsen reacted well to save it and quickly grab the ball.
The hour mark was Leeds’ turn to make a raft of changes. Sinisterra, Forshaw, Klich, Rodrigo, Gray and Summerville on. Harrison, Bamford, Aaronson, James, Roca and Adams off.
Aston Villa were given a second penalty shortly after the changes - this one was a penalty. Leif Davis with an obvious handball from an Ings cross, and a terrible acting job to pretend it hit his face. Ings sent Meslier the wrong way from the spot to give Villa the lead.
Archie Gray received the first card of the game - there had been approximately 20 worse challenges in the game from both sides - and Leo Hjelde came on at left-back to replace Leif Davis. All over social media, people had been talking about the referee letting everything go and how the match was getting more and more heated....
John McGinn then was booked for a much worse foul on Archie Gray - which looked like a senior player trying to get revenge on a kid who hadn’t done anything wrong in the first place.
this has been allowed to get niggly which is largely on the officials, although that's no excuse for a tackle like that— Phil Hay (@PhilHay_) July 17, 2022
Archie Gray left on a stretcher, and was replaced by Sam Greenwood.
72 - Sam Greenwood coming on for Gray who is being stretchered from the pitch. Jesse Marsch really unhappy. Gray in tears.— Graham Smyth (@GrahamSmyth) July 17, 2022
Once the match restarted, A Leo Hjelde cross took a deflection and forced Olsen into another save. Hjelde also got in well down the left and was flagged offside despite being well onside.
The match fizzled out after the Archie Gray injury, despite a couple more interesting challenges. Villa deserved the win on the balance of play - but the story was the injury to Archie Gray, I really hope it isn’t as bad as it looked.