Leeds United 2 Bristol City 0: How did Will Huffer and Aapo Halme fare on their Whites debuts?
How did Leeds United's debutants Will Huffer and Aapo Halme fare during the 2-0 victory over Bristol City in the Championship on Saturday?
Footballers careers, as many ex-players will tell you, can rely solely on opportunities through circumstance at any level.
United's regular stopper Bailey Peacock-Farrell took his chance with open arms last season as he was thrust into the deep end under Paul Heckingbottom and as it came to pass Jamal Blackman, according to Marcelo Bielsa, had earned his shot at the number one shirt for the visit of Bristol City on Saturday afternoon.
Fate though would intervene as a broken tibia in the Under-23s against Birmingham City last week ended his season-long loan from Chelsea prematurely.
An injury to Peacock-Farrell following his return from international duty with Northern Ireland plunged Leeds into more uncertainty as it left Bielsa without a recognised senior goalkeeper.
Defender Pontus Jansson also joined the mini-injury crisis in the Thorp Arch medical room as he was sent home from Sweden early due to a foot injury picked up in the heavy defeat to West Brom.
A pair of 20-year-old's with zero senior appearances between them were thrust into the limelight as Aapo Halme, a defender with a Veikkausliiga title to his name with HJK Helsinki, and Will Huffer, an England Under-20s international and Thorp Arch graduate, were called into action.
Huffer was nervy, as expected, but never particularly tested by the Robins as his United debut came and passed without real incident.
There was a brief moment in the opening period where a kick was charged down by Andreas Weimann and it was met by a groan from the home support but he was to have one shining moment in the closing stages.
Following Kemar Roofe's opener City won themselves a corner and were pushing to find a way back into the game. Huffer climbed through a crowd of players to snatch the ball from danger as he clutched the ball with confidence inside the six-yard box.
Halme, who has starred for the Under-23s in recent months, was a tad more assured in the 3-3-1-3 formation Bielsa set out the game in. The young defender won a number of headers and kept Weimann relatively quiet, no small feat for any centre-back in the division, with the City top scorer managing to break through the backline only once.
The towering Finnish youngster was substituted for Samuel Saiz as United went in search of an opener but both players could be proud of their display on an afternoon that came about through tricky circumstances.
Huffer said afterwards: “To go from being in the stands as a fan, to being on the pitch, it couldn’t have gone any better." A clean sheet and three points for both were celebrated at the final whistle.
Head coach Bielsa confirmed following the game he was unsure over whether the duo would be called upon once more for the visit of Reading on Tuesday as United's anxious wait over the return of Jansson and Peacock-Farrell goes on.