Cambridge United 1 Leeds United 2: Whites progression comes at a cost
LEEDS United booked an FA Cup fourth round trip to either AFC Wimbledon or Sutton United with a 2-1 win at League Two hosts Cambridge United who led 1-0 at the break.
Cambridge threatened a much-changed Leeds side from the off and deservedly took a 25th-minute lead when Uche Ikpeazu smashed the ball past Marco Silvestri from Luke Berry’s free-kick.
The set piece was conceded by Whites centre back Pontus Jansson who was booked and will now face a two-game ban for picking up his tenth yellow card of the season.
Leeds improved after the interval and drew level four minutes before the hour when Stuart Dallas headed home to make the game all square.
Then, just seven minutes later, United completed an unlikely looking comeback when Alex Mowatt flicked the ball into the net after a Dallas corner was headed on by Jansson.
But Leeds were then dealt a second blow ahead of Friday night’s crunch Championship clash with Derby County when Liam Cooper limped off injured to be replaced by Kyle Bartley.
Cambridge began brightly with prolific goalscoring midfielder Luke Berry causing problems though Leeds hit the crossbar with their first attack when a looping cross from Marcus Antonsson sailed on to the top of the woodwork and over.
But Cambridge were firmly on the front foot and Silvestri was forced to produce a strong low save in the sixth minute to deny Ikpeazu who proved an early menace.
Berry was then handed a free-kick some 25 yards out and central in the 15th minute and produced a fine curled effort that wizzed just wide of Silvestri’s right hand post.
The League Two men were the better side and after Kalvin Phillips was booked for hacking down Ikpeazu, Leeds picked up a hugely notable second booking when Jansson took down Berry just outside the Cambridge box.
Jansson’s tenth yellow card of the season means the Swede will now face a two-match ban.
And United’s evening then went from bad to worse when Cambridge took a 25th-minute lead from the free-kick which saw Berry’s delivery deflected to Ikpeazu who smashed the ball past Silvestri.
Leeds looked rattled and were lucky not to concede a second though the Whites went close on two occasions in the 43rd minute.
First a dipping shot from Mowatt was tipped over the bar by Will Norris and Norris then denied Copper from the following corner by blocking his header on the line.
Monk hauled off the booked Gaetano Berardi for Lewie Coyle during the interval but Cambridge almost doubled their lead five minutes after the restart when James Dunne’s rising volley was clawed over the bar by Silvestri.
But six minutes later Leeds finally drew level when a cross from Mowatt was met by Dallas whose header made it 1-1 in the 56th minute.
Antonsson was then only denied a second by a smart save from Norris moments later.
But there was no denying Leeds a second goal three minutes after the hour when a Dallas corner was headed on by Jansson to Mowatt whose flick sailed into the corner to turn the game on its head.
Leeds were back on track but the Whites were then dealt another blow in the 71st minute when Cooper went down injured and the defender had to hobble off to by replaced by Bartley.
With Jansson now suspended for the next two games, Cooper’s injury could have left Leeds with just one fit natural centre back ahead of Friday’s clash with Derby with right back Luke Ayling likely to partner Bartley if Cooper is ruled out.
At least Leeds had done enough for victory but Cambridge went close to bagging an 89th-minute equaliser when Piero Mingoia forced a desperate save from Silvestri.
A Cambridge free-kick in the fourth minute of injury time also had hearts in mouths but Leeds saw out time to book their place in the next round.
Not, though, without cost.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Berardi (Coyle 45), Jansson, Cooper (Bartley 71), Denton, Grimes, Phillips, Mowatt, Doukara (Roofe 59), Antonsson, Dallas. Subs not used: Green, Vieira, O’Kane, Wood. Cambridge: Norris, Taylor, Adams, Dunne, Roberts, Legge, Mingoia, Berry, Clark (Williamson 88), Newton (Dunk 66), Ikpeazu. Subs not used: Gregory, Darling, Davies, Maris, Pigott.
Referee: Craig Pawson.
Attendance: 7,973 (1,414 Leeds).