Mark Jackson hails Leeds United U23s match-winners after impressive Wigan victory in Premier League Cup

Mark Jackson was left delighted for Leeds United's U23s match-winners Nohan Kenneh and Max Dean.

By Joe Urquhart
Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:07 pm
Updated Friday, 14th January 2022, 10:08 pm

The Whites earned an impressive 2-1 Premier League Cup victory over Wigan Athletic at the Lancashire FA on Friday night.

Leeds hauled themselves up to second spot in Group E behind the Latics, leapfrogging Sunderland to sit in a qualification spot for the knockout phase.

Jackson took another young side across the Pennines for the clash with Nohan Kenneh, Sean McGurk and Amari Miller among the more experienced academy players to travel.

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Leeds United Under-23s boss Mark Jackson. Pic: Getty

Kenneh - on his return from a recent absence - opened the scoring with a stunning volley which he chested down before finding the bottom corner emphatically.

Wigan later levelled through Tom Costello but it was Dean who grabbed the headlines in the second half to provide a winner.

The 17-year-old picked out the top corner from 25-yards to earn all three points on a night where United's youngsters played beyond their years.

"I'm really proud," Jackson reflected post-match.

"As a group of coaching staff we thanked them because they took on board the information that we gave them.

"That hasn't always been the case, which happens with young players sometimes.

"They stood up to it [the challenge]. They have to learn how to play against bigger and stronger players. One thing there is at this club is an opportunity for younger players to step up and play beyond their age groups.

"That is what is happening this season, it has taken a little while to get to grips with it but there were a lot of things that showed we can be feeling positive heading into the second half of the season."

Asked about the two impressive goals, Jackson said: "Any goal is a good goal. I was really pleased for Nohan. I thought his contribution in the first half alongside Archie Gray was really, really good.

"The two subs were planned at half-time for them to come off. They were disappointed because they wanted to play and they were gutted in the dressing room.

"He's [Nohan] been out for a little bit but he's getting back into it now. It was good for him tonight to get 45 minutes. I thought he showed a lot of positivity in his movement to get on the ball and create space for others.

"To get the goal from that position was really positive."

Dean was also a vital cog in the Whites machine up front as they earned a hard-fought victory, leading the press in attack amid his breathtaking effort.

"I think in the first half he dealt with balls into his feet really well," the U23s boss added.

"We wanted him to threaten the backline a little bit more in the second half. I actually wanted to try and manage Deano a little bit during the game, because he's been a bit tight in certain areas of his legs but he was able to carry on.

"He contributed really, really well. Not just with the goal but his all-round performance. He was part of the good aspects of our pressing."