Match Report: Leeds United 3-0 Preston North End – United Exude Efficiency in Defeat of Lilywhites
Saturday, 8th Apr 2017 22:05 by @LucasMonk_
On a glorious afternoon at Elland Road, Leeds United ensured that they would not suffer the ignominy of losing three successive league matches for the first time in over a year, by comprehensively vanquishing Preston North End in consummate style and consolidating their position within the play-offs for the time being.
Prior to kick-off on an idyllic and tranquil afternoon in West Yorkshire, those in attendance commemorated the lives of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight. The two were ardent supporters of the Whites, who tragically lost their lives in grievous circumstances 17 years ago in Istanbul. A minute’s applause preceded the game’s beginning, and the showing that Leeds United delivered will doubtless have done them both proud.
In spite of their Lancastrian opponents applying significant attacking pressure in the early stages of the match, United eventually cruised to a noteworthy victory that their performance wholly merited.
Kemar Roofe netted his third goal of a transitional campaign since his move from Oxford United in the summer transfer window, while Pablo Hernandez and substitute Souleymane Doukara also registered strikes of their own to secure an invaluable three points against vigorous opposition.
The result, in consequence, means that seventh-placed Fulham remain five points behind Garry Monk’s side, with a mere five matches remaining in what has been a memorable season that thus far has been chock-full of delight. The Whites travel to St James’ Park next Friday, as they prepare to do battle with automatic promotion hopefuls Newcastle United in a climacteric televised clash.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) – Green; Ayling, Bartley (C), Jansson, Berardi; Vieira, Phillips; Roofe (Dallas 70’), Hernandez (Taylor 88’), Pedraza; Wood (Doukara 80’).
Unused Substitutes: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, O’Kane, Barrow.
Preston North End (3-4-1-2) – Maxwell; Clarke, Huntington, Baptiste (Red Card 86’); Vermijl (Johnson 61’), Gallagher (Makienok 72’), Pearson (C), Cunningham; McGeady; Barkhuizen, Robinson (Beckford 72’).
Unused Substitutes: Lindegaard, Spurr, Browne, Horgan.
The hosts began proceedings, shooting toward the Kop. With little more than two minutes of play elapsed, Tom Barkhuizen, having been recently crowned the Championship’s player of the month, bewildered each and every spectator present by inexplicably heading Marnick Vermijl’s cross straight at United’s Rob Green from only yards out.
Having exuded goalkeeping aptitude by diverting the aforementioned Barkhuizen header over the bar, Green was soon enough called into action once more; from the subsequent corner, it would be Barkhuizen who connected with the ball for a second time, with the former England goalkeeper gratuitous to have saved with relative ease on this occasion.
Nine minutes bereft of any clear-cut goalscoring opportunities ensued, before Barkhuizen would spurn a third chance to score his seventh goal for the Lilywhites since his winter move from Morecambe. Kemar Roofe uncharacteristically relinquished possession in the centre of the field, before the 23 year-old was presented with a facile, one-on-one prospect of opening the scoring. After effortlessly evading a defensive challenge from Kyle Bartley, the former Blackpool prodigy could only curl an infernal effort wide of Green’s right-hand post.
The Preston North End management, playing staff, and supporters would have been unanimously cursing what was to come five minutes later with rueful exasperation. Having enjoyed a sprightly start, the visitors could conjure up zilch to impede Kemar Roofe, who, after a slick interchange of passes with Chris Wood elected to lift the ball over a hapless Chris Maxwell in consummate style.
United could count themselves as being highly unfortunate not to have increased the margin of their advantage on 40 minutes. The talismanic Chris Wood, scorer of no less than 27 goals this season, was under an ephemeral impression that he’d recorded goal number 28 of what has been a stellar campaign, only for the goal to be disallowed following the referee Peter Bankes’ consultation with the linesman.
Whether the indignant protestations of a scattering of Preston players served to bear an influence upon the decision, only the officials involved will know, but in any case, United would double their money just five minutes later. Having already netted the opening goal of the game, Kemar Roofe displayed wondrous vision and finesse to play Pablo Hernandez in on goal. With only North End ‘keeper Maxwell left to beat, the Spaniard conquered his counterpart in a foot race before poking the ball home with the deftest of touches for his fifth goal of the season.
That proved to be the last action of intrigue in the first-half, and the sides ventured into the changing rooms with United having established a healthy 2-0 lead.
HT – Leeds United 2-0 Preston North End (Roofe 18’, Hernandez 45’).
As the hosts had begun proceedings by kicking off the first-half, it was the prerogative of Preston to begin the second period.
The visitors made a vigorous start to the second-half, and though they won a succession of corners in this period, none of them were to culminate in a goal.
Leeds would then come desperately close to increasing their lead to an almost unassailable margin in the game’s 54th minute. Pablo Hernandez’s sumptuous delivery eventually fell to Chris Wood, who instinctively swivelled and crashed a venomous effort against the crossbar. A frenetic few minutes would follow, with Preston’s Belgian right-back Marnick Vermijl seeing a timorous effort fly comfortably into the grateful arms of Rob Green, before United expeditiously surged upfield and won a corner. The consequent delivery, once more on the part of Hernandez, was this time met emphatically by Kyle Bartley, only for Ben Pearson to clear the goalbound effort of the Swansea loanee off the line.
In the absence of club captain Liam Bridcutt, a youthful central midfield pairing of Ronaldo Vieira and Kalvin Phillips were delegated the task of establishing a hegemony for their side in the middle of the park. This was a task that they both saw too with great gusto and enthusiasm, and Vieira in particular was performing admirably in front of the Leeds rearguard. On 66 minutes, the exotically named academy graduate struck a vicious effort toward goal that elicited a fine save from visiting ‘keeper Maxwell, before Alex Baptiste cleared the ball to safety.
With 14 minutes remaining and their hopes of mounting a stunning fightback diminishing as each second passed, North End’s Barkhuizen was once again to spurn a guilt-edged chance to halve the arrears. Aiden McGeady’s initial effort from outside of the Leeds area was erroneously fumbled by Green, only for the forward to lash an impetuous effort against the crossbar before Simon Makienok headed over the bar in lieu of guiding the ball into an unguarded net.
United substitute Souleymane Doukara would then pass up a glorious opportunity to score his sixth goal of the season, and his side’s third of the match, with just seven minutes of normal time to play. Another Leeds substitute, Northern Ireland international Stuart Dallas, had played the Meudon-born forward clean through on goal with only Maxwell to beat, but the former Fleetwood Town goalkeeper did exceptionally well to deny Doukara with an outstretched save.
Three minutes passed, before the tempestuous North End defender Alex Baptiste was given his marching orders by referee Peter Bankes for a disdainful act of violent conduct on Hernandez.
With the game nearing its conclusion, Doukara would atone for his earlier error in added time having been released on the right by virtue of an exquisite pass on the part of Kalvin Phillips, advancing into the penalty area before slotting the ball into the bottom-right corner with aplomb.
FT – Leeds United 3-0 Preston North End (Roofe 18’, Hernandez 45’, Doukara 90+3).
After a start of some turbulence, United mustered up the composure and the courage to strive for greater standards, and eventually ran out as deserved 3-0 winners having made the most of their goalscoring opportunities.
Man Of The Match
Kemar Roofe (9.1 WhoScored Statistical Match Rating)
Having regained his place within the starting 11, it would be a truism to declare that Kemar Roofe grasped the opportunity that had been granted to him with both hands. The 24 year-old enjoyed his finest display in United’s sparkling white to date, exuding copious amounts of confidence and composure, while scoring and assisting in the match. The former Oxford United talisman possessed the sufficient gravitas to put the Preston defence to the sword, and all that can be asked of him now is that he deliver performances of this kind with a tad more regularity.
Pass Success: 77%
Key Passes: 2
Dribble Success: 67%
Media: Victorious Leeds United head coach Garry Monk and losing manager Simon Grayson
Garry Monk, speaking to the BBC:
"It was really important to respond and we were determined to after back-to-back defeats away from home and that was the key.
"The first five 10 minutes they had a couple of breakaways, which could have been more dangerous. But once we got to grips with it, for the next 50 or 60 minutes we played some really good football.
"We created numerous chances and probably should have capitalised a bit more, but we were playing against a good side and they are in form.
"They were never going to make it easy for us, but some of the football we played I thought was excellent."
Simon Grayson, also speaking to the BBC:
"We started really well and had two great opportunities through Tom Barkhuizen.
"But before you know it, we switch off and they got their noses in front. We weren’t good enough defensively and that was the big aspect.
"We created some good chances. We had good possession and played some decent stuff, but it mistakes at key times cost us.
"If you do that against a strong team like Leeds they’re going to punish you."
Match Statistics and Facts
Stats – (Leeds/Preston)
Possession – 50% / 50%
Pass Success – 73% / 70%
Aerial Success – 47% / 53%
Shots – 15 / 15
On Target – 6 / 6
Tackles – 25 / 13
Fouls – 11 / 6
Corners – 4 / 7
Referee – Peter Bankes
Booked – Wood (Leeds), Baptiste (Preston, Red Card).
Attendance – 31,851.
A superlative performance and a fine way to silence those pesky purveyors of melancholy among such prosperous times for our football club (on the field, at least).
Although we conceded far too many chances to Preston for my heart’s liking, their profligacy, in stark contrast to our potency in front of goal ensured that we emerged from this momentous match as victors.
Much credence should be appropriated to Kemar Roofe, whose sparkling and infallible performance led the North End defenders a merry dance as the sun beamed down upon Elland Road, a venue that has been utterly transformed into a formidable footballing fortress this term.
Victory was required of the players today, with the play-off chasing pack waiting to circle around us in a manner akin to predatory vultures in the event of us floundering, but after a virulent start, each and every United player warrants praise for producing a fine display.
Onward to Newcastle.
Photo: Action Images
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