Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s victory over Preston North End.
The faithful went home from Elland Road very happy as Leeds grabbed a 1-0 victory over Preston. It wasn’t pretty but it’s the three points that matter and a great start to the festive season.
Steve Evans made one change to the team to play Preston at Elland Road, Tom Adeyemi was still suffering from illness so Luke Murphy came into the midfield.
Sam Byram kept his place in the starting XI after his impressive last outing versus Wolverhampton.
Sully Doukara’s lively substitute appearance didn’t evidently do enough to alter the head coach’s formation.
Lee Erwin and Jordan Botaka were again absent from the match-day squad, a surprise to me that the winger especially was omitted completely.
Surprisingly, it was Preston who were first into their stride, Garner’s effort was superbly saved by Leeds keeper Silvestri. Chris Wood, unlucky on Thursday but needing a goal, had two early opportunities to put Leeds ahead but the striker’s efforts were first headed over and his second effort saved.
The first big talking point was the sending off of Preston’s goalkeeper Jordan Pickford for a handball offence outside the area – youngster Matt Hudson came on to make his debut for Preston.
Sam Byram had a half-chance to give Leeds the lead but his shot went over. Inside the first five minutes of the second half Leeds went in front, Stuart Dallas’ cross was expertly turned past his own keeper by Alan Browne. With their ‘tails up’ Leeds pushed forward but try as they might they could not force a second, Wood being caught off-side on numerous occasions not helping matters. It was left to Marco Silvestri to keep the visitors out, producing a stunning save from a Kilkenny header to deny the ex-Leeds midfielder late in the game.
Three points and back-to-back victories at home for the first time since last November.
It wasn’t pretty and Simon Grayson will be disappointed he didn’t leave Elland Road for the first time as a opposition manager with at least a point.
Like I’ve said before we will play better and lose, six points off taking sixth place. Breathe all!
Man of the match: Marco Silvestri, quality saves kept Leeds in front.
I don’t believe I have ever before come away from a Leeds game where we have won feeling so annoyed with the team!
In my opinion this was a dire performance with no glimpse at all of the quality we have shown – albeit only in short spells – in the previous three games.
That we have come away from it with all three points is solely thanks to the very Christmas spirited Alan Browne who powered a header past his own goalkeeper and the fact that Preston played an hour of the game with only ten men!
For much of the second half, an alien visitor to the ground would have been hard pressed to notice that one side had a man less than the other. That we failed to put pressure on the young debutant keeper Preston were forced to introduce is plain criminal negligence on our part.
The only player who came out of the game with any credit was Marco Silvestri who is getting better with every game.
He alone is the reason we continued the current unbeaten run with a number of fine saves.
We have to up our performance for the visit to Forest or I fear the worst. Winning has never before felt so much like losing!
Man of the match: Marco Silvestri.
Leeds fans face the unusual prospect of enjoying a Christmas with the team on a decent run of form.
The win over Preston was one built on hard work and midfield dominance, which makes it hard to understand why Steve Evans took off Luke Murphy and ceded the initiative to the visitors, particularly as Simon Grayson had just introduced Neil Kilkenny to make them tick.
Once again it was a bits and pieces performance from the Whites but the prospect of this team clicking into gear is a fairly exciting one. If Leeds can negotiate the next few fixtures with a decent return of points, it will at least leave the fans looking upwards in the new year.
Man of the match: Luke Murphy – his withdrawal changed the game.
It was a very important three points leading into the festive period, but the performance wasn’t good. It was a typical pre-Christmas game lacking intensity and atmosphere. Dallas was outstanding again, and Bellusci is looking more comfortable at the back.
Man of the match: Stuart Dallas.
A drab and uninspiring performance but three points nonetheless and that’s all that matters.
United needed only to turn up as Preston contrived to beat themselves; the keeper departing after handling outside the box in the first half and then Alan Browne providing the winner through an own goal just after the break.
We really should have put their 10 men to the sword in the second half but we seemed content just to hold the lead; a stupid decision that could have cost us in the end.
There were some good performances from Bridcutt, Bellusci and Cook but we will need to be far better in the rest of our festive fixtures.
Man of the match: Giuseppe Bellusci.
United made it three wins in four matches but boy oh boy did they make it difficult against 10-man Preston who scored an own goal to secure the points for Leeds. However after the draw that should have been a win at Charlton this is a welcome boost.
Man of the match: Liam Bridcutt.