York City 0 Leeds United 5: Marcelo Bielsa's Whites start pre-season with a bang at Bootham Crescent
Leeds United kicked off their busy pre-season schedule on Wednesday night with a 5-0 victory over York City at Bootham Crescent.
The National League North outfit welcomed Leeds for the midweek clash in what has become an annual friendly between the two sides.
It was the first taste of competitive pre-season action for both teams and two goals from Jack Harrison mixed in with strikes from Pablo Hernandez, Kemar Roofe and Adam Forshaw were enough to settle the tie in a one-sided affair.
It had been a long and gruelling 56 days of reflection for the Whites and Marcelo Bielsa since a ball was last kicked in anger before stepping off the bus at York.
Two months have been and gone and some major changes had been undertaken since Leeds saw their chase for Premier League football ended in a matter of 45 frantic minutes against Derby County at Elland Road.
Jack Clarke’s sale to Tottenham Hotspur, though, kick-started the summer arrivals for United as the youngster returned immediately on loan.
Helder Costa, Harrison and Ben White joined the ranks while there are still unanswered questions over the departure of fan favourite Pontus Jansson to Brentford.
A new campaign, though, brings a fresh start and at York on Wednesday the Argentine’s squad got their first minutes following the return from the summer break.
Over two thousand United fans made the short trip along the A64 to cheer on a squad made up of a mix of youth and experience.
United, of course, have another testing fixture at Guiseley on Thursday evening before making the trip to Australia this weekend to take on Manchester United.
Kalvin Phillips’ omission on the night was cause for concern for a brief moment at least but the midfielder is due to feature at Nethermoor Park on Thursday night.
Kiko Casilla started in goal with a back three of club captain Liam Cooper, Gaetano Berardi and Alfie McCalmont.
Stuart Dallas and Barry Douglas were chosen as the wing-backs in Bielsa’s 3-3-1-3 system, with Forshaw in midfield.
Harrison, Hernandez, Roofe and Patrick Bamford completed the line-up.
It took the visitors just two minutes to open the scoring as Hernandez whipped a ball in from the left which fell to Harrison. The Manchester City loanee twisted inside the box and saw his low shot fly underneath goalkeeper Ryan Whitley.
The opening goal settled any lingering nerves for Bielsa’s men as they added to the scoreline on the 20-minute mark once again on what was turning into an easy night.
Harrison turned provider this time as he picked out the run of Roofe who slotted a neat finish home from inside the six-yard box.
York had barely registered an attack during the opening period with Hernandez adding a third from the edge of the area before Harrison bagged his second of the night to put the Whites well in control at the break.
The hosts made eight changes at the interval with United adding a fifth before making wholesale changes themselves on the hour mark.
Hernandez again was the man in control as he ran City ragged. The Spaniard picked out an inch-perfect ball for Forshaw as he was left with the goal at his mercy. The midfielder gathered himself before lifting a lovely finish over the onrushing Peter Jameson who had no chance in stopping the effort.
It was to be the last meaningful action for the starting line-up as Bielsa swapped his entire outfield 10 with Casilla remaining in goal.
There were outings for recent development arrivals Liam McCarron and Rafa Mujica while Jack Jenkins and Oliver Casey also featured.
The former Barcelona B man went closest to adding to the scoreline in the final stages as he shot wide twice of Jameson’s post.
It was complete domination from start to finish for Leeds who ran out worthy winners on an evening where much-needed minutes were picked up for the whole squad.
United will again line-up at Guiseley tonight with the likes of first-team players Phillips, Costa, White, Gjanni Alioski and Mateusz Klich all set to feature alongside more of Thorp Arch’s youngsters.
But first-choice right-back Luke Ayling appears to have picked up a knock in training and is likely to miss the fixture.
York City: Whitley, King, McNulty, Allen, Griffiths, Beresford, Green, McLaughlin, Ferguson; Burrow, Maguire. Subs: Moke, Tait, Bond, Kempster, Langstaff, Dyer, Newton, Wright, Jameson, Jebson-King, Watson, Harrison, Ventura.
Leeds United starting line-up: Casilla, Dallas, Berardi, Cooper, Douglas, Hernandez, Forshaw, McCalmont, Harrison, Roofe, Bamford. Second line-up (62mins): Casilla, Struijk, Casey, Hosannah, Oduor, Jenkins, Gotts, McCarron, Mujica, Kun, Edmondson. Unused subs: Miazek.
Referee: Ross Joyce (Cleveland).