Chris Wood was lost before a ball was kicked in York or nearby Tadcaster but most of the evening followed the script laid out by Uwe Rosler.
United’s head coach was subjected to the worrying sight of Wood, his £3m signing from Leicester City, departing down the tunnel during the warm-up at Bootham Crescent and a tight hamstring prevented the striker from starting against York City.
The call went instead to Steve Morison – named on the bench initially – and Leeds rode the disruption in the main, dominating York before passing up victory with a cheap concession 10 minutes from time.
Rosler’s side appeared to be on course to register their first meaningful pre-season win while a younger United line-up were overrunning Tadcaster Albion a few miles away but an equaliser from Marvin McCoy gave York some late satisfaction.
Injuries are a pet hate in pre-season and Rosler’s muted reaction to a mixed performance away at Harrogate Town last week was tempered by the avoidance of any fresh fitness problems after that fixture. But having sent Luke Murphy for knee surgery a fortnight ago, Wood’s last-minute withdrawal yesterday was a natural concern.
The New Zealand international sat on the bench throughout the 1-1 draw in York and Rosler played down his condition afterwards, confirming that the striker will travel on tour to Austria later this week.
“He’s not injured,” Rosler said. “He felt a little bit in his hamstring or felt something so we didn’t want to take any chances.
“It’s a little irritating because he needs to get up to speed. He needs game minutes and he needs to get fit but it was precautionary.”
Leeds were not clinical enough without Wood up front but they got the measure of York after 20 minutes and opened the scoring towards the end of the first half through a close-range header from Sam Byram.
The League Two club were not allowed to alter the balance of the match until the closing stages and found United’s pressure suffocating as Rosler’s side opened up and stretched the contest. In Tadcaster, non-league Albion came under similar pressure.
In staging two friendlies simultaneously, Rosler was careful not to give too much away. Numerous senior players were used against York but Marco Silvestri, Mirco Antenucci, Billy Sharp and Liam Cooper all travelled to Tadcaster and turned out in a 3-0 win. Antenucci, Sharp and Souleymane Doukara claimed the goals.
Nonetheless, the side at Bootham Crescent looked reasonably close to a team that might be used in United’s first league game at home to Burnley on August 8. It was 4-3-3 in both matches yesterday and Rosler’s formation is likely to stay that way for a while after his side turned the screw on York.
Leeds had toiled in a 3-5-2 system for 45 minutes at Harrogate on Friday, narrow at the back and picked open by Town more easily than Rosler would have liked.
Last night, Morison might have given United the lead before Byram, shooting against the legs of Scott Flinders after Lewis Cook slipped him in behind York’s defence, but the first half-hour was a period of limited precision and few chances.
Leeds were suitably patient and the opening goal when it came was deadly. Lee Erwin fed Alex Mowatt down the left wing and Mowatt’s deep cross was a perfect as Byram’s hanging header. On the basis of Byram’s aerial ability, it is no surprise that Rosler sees merit in pushing him high up the pitch.
Erwin and Byram played out wide, either side of Morison who took up the position where Rosler intended Wood to play. The German’s midfield might have benefited from the running of Tom Adeyemi, United’s new signing who was left out of both friendlies, but there was more control and purpose about their display than there had been at Harrogate.
Morison almost scored from close range early in the second half and saw a goalbound volley saved late on. Trialist Adam Drury also threatened, his second attempt a downward header which substitute keeper Michael Ingham pushed behind.
A decision on Drury, the former Manchester City trainee, is due before Leeds depart to Austria and the youngster gave Rosler something to ponder, working to good effect on the left wing.
York were allowed to pinch an equaliser late on when Scott Wootton backed off from Anthony Straker and gave the winger space to tee-up a rare opportunity and a tap-in for McCoy.