'Justice done' for Leeds United but fans far from impressed by 'nasty' Preston North End

The Leeds United team form a huddle prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Preston North End at Elland Road on January 21, 2024 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)The Leeds United team form a huddle prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Preston North End at Elland Road on January 21, 2024 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images)
The Leeds United team form a huddle prior to the Sky Bet Championship match between Leeds United and Preston North End at Elland Road on January 21, 2024 in Leeds, England. (Photo by George Wood/Getty Images) | Getty Images
YEP's Leeds United Jury have their say after a hard-fought win over Preston North End on Sunday

Leeds United may have left it late but they picked up a victory that could prove vital by the end of the campaign after Joel Piroe's penalty secured the points against Preston. Here's how the YEP Jury saw it...

MIKE GILL

Justice was finally done in the 94th minute when the ice cool Joel Piroe dispatched his penalty and sent the Elland Road faithful wild.

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This was never going to be a classic as a combination of weak refereeing, a nasty, negative opponent and swirling cross wind conspired to kill the football.

The wind was so strong that on occasions, the corner flags took up a horizontal position parallel with the turf and looked like Freddie Mercury’s microphone stand.

Within two minutes, Will Keane dispelled any notions that Preston would be given a sound beating to pay them back for their undeserved win on Boxing Day.

A lovely cross from Junior Firpo allowed the spring-heeled Dan James to head home at the far post and ease the suffering a little It’s just as well because there was still plenty of suffering to come.

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Preston will undoubtedly survive and finish somewhere out of danger but they aren’t going to win anything.

The same could be said for the referee David Webb who was in serious danger of losing his grip on the game In the end grit and resilience saw United through.

Man of the match: Dan James.

DAVID WATKINS

It’s not often that justice is served in the Championship, or in football generally. But my thought throughout the second half was how it would be a huge injustice if we failed to find a winner.

Not because we were dominant, although we did get stronger as the game went on, but because of the cynical way Preston defended their point and their constant time-wasting in the second half.

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As to our performance, we got better and stronger as the game went on.

After the manic first six minutes that saw Leeds give away a soft goal from a simple cross ball that we just didn’t deal with and then equalise within five minutes with a Dan James header, Leeds assumed control while Preston’s early promise faded away as they decided a point would be a good return.

Leeds had a couple of sights of goal in the first half while Illan Meslier did well to push away a Liam Millar shot, but in the second half, Leeds missed chances until the late penalty that substitute Joel Piroe put away easily enough.

All that matters is the three points. Now we need three more on Wednesday against Norwich City at Elland Road.

Man of the match: Dan James.

KEITH INGHAM

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Leeds United got their revenge for their defeat on Boxing Day with a late penalty from Joel Piroe. The win and three points took them four points nearer Southampton and Ipswich Town.

Leeds were surprisingly behind within two minutes, Liam Miller, who scored the winner in the game at Deepdale, hit a shot that Will Keane deflected past Ilan Meslier.

United were level within four minutes. Junior Firpo got behind the Preston defence to deliver a superb ball that Dan James headed past David Cornell.

The second half saw Leeds trying to break through a resolute Preston defence.

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The best opportunity fell to Georginio Rutter but his effort hit the post. James just cleared the bar when in a good position. Other efforts were blocked or deflected for corners.

Daniel Farke then brought on Piroe for Glen Kamara and he made a difference.

It looked like the game would end as a draw until stoppage time. Rodon won a header and the ball struck Ryan Ledson on the arm.

Piroe took the penalty and sent Cornell the wrong way to send Leeds fans home very happy. Leeds will have to play better when Norwich City visit on Wednesday.

Man of the match: Dan James.

NEIL GREWER

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Leeds United made hard work of winning this game but were deserved winners in the end despite requiring an injury-time penalty to win.

Preston remarkably had a 1-0 lead before Leeds had the ball in the opposition half, but a sixth-minute equaliser restored parity.

Patrick Bamford and Georginio Rutter fluffed first-half headed opportunities whilst the second half saw more opportunities for United thwarted by dogged Preston defending, interspersed by blatant time-wasting from Preston and an overly-physical approach.

The winning penalty was reward for endeavour and a professional approach – and what a cool penalty put away by Joel Piroe.

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I feel this was an important victory – to overcome a dogged, awkward team following a run of three easy victories keeps Leeds in touch with the automatic promotion places and sends a positive signal to their rivals.

Whilst no individual player shone above the rest this was a solid team performance resulting in Illan Meslier being a spectator for much of the game. I’ll give man of the match to Ilia Gruev for a near-faultless performance, just ahead of Joe Rodon.

Man of the match: Ilia Gruev.

ANDY RHODES

With Leeds United cruising to three consecutive 3-0 wins immediately before last weekend, we could all be forgiven for the nerves experienced throughout Sunday’s game.

As we’ve all seen, Leeds are good at playing football but, when opposing sides sit deep and games get scrappy, frustration can set in.

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But, as we know, only four sides have left Elland Road with anything this season and those that have, have been lucky.

United’s attacking players don’t know when they’re beaten and, in a promotion push, that is essential.

Dan James and Georginio Rutter were relentless in their pursuit of a winner. Although he’s been out of the side, Joel Piroe doesn’t look like the sort of player to let his head drop and, when the chance came, he kept his cool.

This won’t be the last nervy game this season and, when the next one comes, composure will be needed again.

The pressure is on at the top of the table and Wednesday's game against Norwich City gives Leeds a further chance to close the gap.

Man of the match: Dan James.

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