Leeds United Under 23s boss Andrew Taylor praises young Whites' 'dominant' display in Brighton and Hove Albion defeat

Leeds United Under 23s showed great character in their response to going behind in a Premier League 2 Division 1 clash with Brighton and Hove Albion.

By Flora Snelson
Sunday, 17th April 2022, 10:43 am

That's the message that young Whites boss Andrew Taylor has for his players after the Under 23s failed to respond to the first-half opener set up by Seagulls striker Evan Ferguson for Andrew Moran at the American Express Elite Football Performance Centre on Friday afternoon.

United travelled to the South Coast hoping to put distance between themselves and the PL2 Division 1 relegation zone ahead of a tough end to the season involving games against league leaders Manchester City and third-placed Arsenal.

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With two wins in their last three league games, Taylor's side went into the fixture confident of earning precious points to help avoid falling back down into the PL2 Division 2 in their first season of competing at a higher level.

But Leeds were punished for a period of under-performance in the first half, Taylor said.

"[It was] frustrating," Taylor said.

"I thought we started the game well, then we had a sloppy spell in the first half in terms of in possession - we gave the ball away cheaply, didn't really have the movements that we're looking for in the forward areas.

Leeds United Under 23s head coach Andrew Taylor singled out Whites captain Charlie Cresswell (centre) and Nohan Kenneh (right) for praise. Pic: Lewis Storey.

"And then defensively, positionally, I thought there were a couple of times a few players were maybe out of position. They got the goal on the back of it."

The Whites came out battling after the interval but fell agonisingly short of a leveller, with Amari Miller firing wide when one-on-one with Brighton 'keeper Tom McGill before Sean McGurk's edge-of-the-box strike clattered the woodwork in the game's dying moments.

The fightback shown by his players is worthy of admiration, Taylor said.

"The second half I thought we were great, we dominated the second half, we had a couple of chances to score which then would have changed the game dramatically for us," Taylor said.

Brighton and Hove Albion striker Evan Ferguson in action in the Seagulls' FA Cup tie against West Bromwich Albion in January. Pic: Shaun Botterill.

"I think if we had got the goal we would have went on and won it but it wasn't to be.

"There were some good performances - I thought Nohan [Kenneh] was excellent, Cressy [Charlie Cresswell], Leo [Hjelde].

"Second half, we played really well. We were dominant. The whole game was played in their defensive half so we just need to tidy up on a few movements and combinations to create more opportunities to score but on the whole it was a good second half.

"I've just told the lads, they showed great character for the first half. Come out, had a go, had opportunities to score - we've got to take the positives out of the game and move on to next week."

Leeds United winger Amari Miller missed a chance to draw the Whites level at Brighton. Pic: Lewis Storey.

PL2 Division 1 survival remains in Leeds' hands as, if 13th-placed Chelsea win their game in hand it wouldn't catch them up to the Whites as the Blues trail by four points.

Next Friday, United take on the reigning champions Manchester City at Elland Road, where more than 10,000 Leeds fans will be cheering on from the stands.

Taylor said his side are ready for the fight.

"Next week's great, back at Elland Road, big crowd going to be there," Taylor said.

"We know Man City are a very good team. We'll need to be at our best to get a result and we'll be working hard this week to make sure we are."