Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 3-0 victory over Preston at Elland Road.
Saturday is as close as we have come to a routine win at Elland Road this season and was the perfect nerve settler for a big and rowdy crowd drenched in the Yorkshire sun.
The improving weather is always the first sign that end-of- year excitement is just around the corner although, for United fans, end-of-season sunshine has meant nothing but pointless football and uncertainty for a number of years.
In a similar way, this is now starting to feel like a phoney war in itself as the same candidates jostle for position in the play-offs. The threat of anyone dropping out becomes less likely as the weeks pass and United are picking up points at a comfortable enough rate even after last week’s disappointments.
Garry Monk suggested this was a back to basics performance and that could certainly be argued. In recent weeks it has been left to Chris Wood or the defence to take the plaudits but it was largely the midfield that rose to the occasion on Saturday.
Kalvin Phillips had one of his best games in a Leeds shirt alongside the solid Ronaldo Vieira while Pablo Hernandez was very busy all over the park making things happen for United.
Add to that Alfonso Pedraza and Kemar Roofe looking threatening on the wings and the performance was a real endorsement of Monk’s team selection.
We’ve now put seven goals past Preston this year and, amazingly, Chris Wood hasn’t scored any of them. That may say as much about our visitors’ defending as anything else but it does show that we can find the goals from elsewhere when we need to.
United now need to attack these remaining five games with careful thought and strategy.
There are still points that need to be picked up, combinations to be tried, momentum to be built and suspensions to be avoided.
If Monk approaches these games with the cute, methodical intelligence that he is becoming known for, then we can secure a top-six place and go into the play-offs as confident as you’re ever going to be. Saturday showed that players and fans alike aren’t going to roll over now.
Man of the match: Luke Ayling.
Leeds put recent bad results behind them to put a very large dent into Preston’s hopes of gatecrashing the top six party, the 3-0 win was no less than they deserved.
It was the away team that spurned two good chances early on, Tom Barkhuizen the guilty Preston player, Leeds though got their noses in front when Kemar Roofe benefited from a Chris Wood pass to lob Chris Maxwell.
On the stroke of half-time Pablo Hernandez made it two, when he won a race with Maxwell for a loose ball in the penalty area.
After the early scare Leeds deserved the lead at the break.
Wood and Barkhuizen took paint off the woodwork in a busy second half and former striker Jermaine Beckford received a warm welcome from the home fans. He nearly got a goal back for the visitors but he missed a cut back from the lively Barkhuizen.
Alex Baptiste was then sent off just before the end of normal time for a poor challenge on Pablo Hernandez. In injury time, Souleymane Doukara again found himself free on goal after a great ball from Kalvin Phillips and he made no mistake.
There were great displays from Rob Green, Ronaldo Vieira, Phillips and Roofe but everyone one of the fourteen who played, deserved credit.
Man of the match: Kemar Roofe.
A much more polished display saw off Preston comfortably in the end although the match stats between the two sides were near identical. The difference was that Leeds put three chances away and perhaps got that little rub of the green that was missing for us in the two away games last week.
Even with a two-goal lead though, Leeds hit a sticky patch when too many chances were presented to the visitors who might, on another day, have got some reward. Doukara’s late solo strike made it look easier than it actually was.
But this game was all about getting three points, not only to boost our own play-off hopes but also to put a sizeable dent in those of Grayson’s men. Now, with five games left, Leeds only need another four points to ensure Preston can’t finish ahead of us. It still looks odds on to me that only Fulham can spoil the party for any of the current four sides in the play-off places and they have two tricky games over Easter at Norwich and home to Villa. A point at Newcastle and three from Wolves could see us home.
Man of the match: Kemar Roofe.
A glorious spring afternoon at Elland Road was just what the doctor ordered for a Leeds United team and fanbase who may have been suffering from the promotion jitters.
After a bad week on the road, there really was no place like home for Leeds to recuperate and they brushed Preston aside with as good a performance as we have seen in recent weeks.
The midfield combination of Kalvin Phillips and Ronaldo Vieira offered Leeds a little more spring in thier step, and with Kemar Roofe back in the line up there was more purpose to the Whites attacking play.
Preston didn’t come to sit back and defend and did cause a few hair raising moments, but Leeds fully deserved the win and proved that we don’t need Chris Wood to score to pick up the points.
The teams above dropped points, but those on our tails all won so we are not quite over the line yet. The two fixtures over the Easter holidays are huge, and should we pick up four points from those it might be time to start looking for a hotel in London for the Spring Bank Holiday.
Man of the match: Ronaldo Viera.
After two successive defeats, United returned to winning ways on Saturday afternoon defeating Simon Grayson’s Preston North End 3-0 at a sun-kissed Elland Road.
After a nervy opening against the in-form Lilywhites, live-wire Kemar Roofe opened the scoring on 18 minutes. Just before half-time only an extremely “mysterious” refereeing decision prevented Chris Wood making it two. However the Whites were not to be denied as Pablo Hernandez doubled their advantage just prior to the interval.
Despite PNE showing some brave resistance, Souleymane Doukara made it 3-0 just prior to the final whistle to confirm a very valuable three points for the loyal hordes.
Man of the match: Luke Ayling.
Unlike the last two games this was an energetic performance. After a wobbly start Roofe put United ahead, before a great effort from Wood was judged offside. However when Hernandez trickled one home just before half-time there was little doubt about the result. Just before the end, Doukara added one more and the big crowd went home happy.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips.