Leeds United U23s returned to winning ways with a 2-0 win over Wolves this afternoon.
It was a happy return to the Aggborough Stadium for head coach Mark Jackson, who played 39 times for Kidderminster in his playing career.
Two first half goals from Rodrigo sealed the win, the Spaniard looked sharp in his first minutes since a groin injury he picked up in Leeds’ 3-1 win at Leicester in January.
Stuart McKinstry claimed his fourth assist of the season for the first goal, smartly cutting back a free-kick for Rodrigo to fire into the bottom corner after just six minutes.
Two U18 players then combined for Leeds to win a penalty on 14 minutes. Charlie Allen slotted through Max Dean who got wrong side of Nigel Lonwijk, the Dutch defender tripped him in the box and Rodrigo drilled in his second from the spot.
Leeds could’ve ended up four of five to the good, but Louie Moulden in the Wolves goal managed to single-handedly keep the score down, with a fine second half performance.
Charlie Cresswell missed a great chance in the first half, and substitute Ian Poveda also threatened in the second. Sam Greenwood came closest to adding a third with a free-kick that clipped the top of the bar, but the score line remained 2-0.
For me, the win really highlights how far the U23s have come this season. Wolves left Thorp Arch with point after coming back from 2-0 down in the reverse fixture.
They are clearly one of the top sides in the division as the table suggests, but Leeds made them look distinctively average today.
Leeds now look much more organised, and the thought of a side coming back from 2-0 down against them seems ridiculous. They look defensively resolute after taking the lead. I think the players look to be maturing game after game, particularly since the turn of the year. The game management has been spot on which is quite rare for such a young side.
The win sees Leeds edge even closer to a seemingly inevitable title. Stoke are their closest challengers, currently 13 points behind in second with two games in hand.
Here are my player ratings from an impressive, and equally important win:
- Elia Caprile (7/10)
Another good performance from Caprile. Distribution was spot on.
Just the one save of note, reacting brilliantly to get down and save from Hesketh’s deflected shot.
2. Cody Drameh (8/10)
Another solid display from one of Leeds’ most consistent performers. Dominates his 1v1 battles, strong, quick and usually makes the right decisions in possession.
6. Gaetano Berardi (7/10)
Solid performance from Berardi but most importantly, more minutes unscathed after his ACL injury.
5. Charlie Cresswell (8/10)
Back in the starting line up and marshalled the defence as usual. Kept Austin Samuels at bay, the forward has first team experience both with Wolves and at Bradford City but didn’t get a sniff of goal today.
3. Liam McCarron (8/10)
McCarron’s best performance at left-back. Corbeanu is one of Wolves’ most dangerous players but McCarron kept him at bay.
4. Nohan Kenneh (8/10)
Another solid performance from Kenneh in midfield, he has been very impressive of late. Breaks up play and reads the game well, and as I’ve mentioned before – brings a physicality to the U23s midfield that we sometimes lack in his absence.
8. Charlie Allen (9/10)
Superb. Bright, full of energy and effective at both ends of the pitch. Made a couple of vital interventions defensively, and played a beautiful slide-rule pass for Dean to win the penalty.
Man of the Match.
7. Stuart McKinstry (8/10)
Another player that has been very impressive of late, enjoying his best run in the side this season. He provides a great set-piece nine times out of ten and that was evident again today.
Played from the right in the first half and then the left in the second. Different approach to the likes of Summerville and Poveda but just as effective, often coming inside and finding space rather than hugging the touchline and running at players.
10. Rodrigo (8/10)
The stand out in the first half, as you’d expect from a Spanish international in the PL2. Some delightful touches all over the park. Looked sharp and took his goals well. Unlucky not to grab a hat-trick before half time, denied by a great block on the line from Lewis Richards.
🙌 Excited to see this man back? pic.twitter.com/EEcNkO5BPu
— Leeds United (@LUFC) March 5, 2021
11. Bobby Kamwa (7/10)
Looked sharp today after a couple of quiet performances in recent weeks. Looked a lot more threatening coming off the left flank – he had more opportunities to pick up the ball and run at players, which is a real strength of his, and something he doesn’t get many chances to do when leading the line as the main striker.
9. Max Dean (8/10)
Not his day in front of goal but another superb performance from the 17-year-old.
He played as the central striker today. He runs the channels, threatens in behind and holds the ball up well – he has potential to be a genuine complete forward player.
I love his tenacity and passion. He chases every ball down, gives as good as he gets in physical battles, despite being only 17 and not the biggest.
Big, big fan of his.
15. Olly Casey (for Berardi, HT – 7/10)
Casey continued his good form with a solid second half display today. A couple of commanding headers, good tackles and strong blocks.
16. Sam Greenwood (for Rodrigo, HT – 6/10)
A little rusty at times with his end product but it was good to see Greenwood back involved after injury.
17. Ian Poveda (for Kamwa, HT – 8/10)
Should’ve added a goal to a very bright second half performance. Ran at his man at every given opportunity and beat him almost every time.