Leeds United Under 23s boss Mark Jackson on his side's Achilles' heel and positives from Chelsea defeat

Mark Jackson disagreed with the penalty awarded against his Leeds United Under 23s in a loss to Chelsea, but admitted it was set-pieces that cost them more.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 9:18 am
Updated Saturday, 20th November 2021, 9:20 am

The young Blues took three points away from Thorp Arch with a 3-1 win, central defender Xavier Mbuyamba twice heading home from dead ball deliveries before former Whites loanee Lewis Baker converted a disputed late penalty. Tyler Roberts' spot-kick, won by 15-year-old Archie Gray, was scant consolation for Jackson and his youngsters.

"Really difficult afternoon, for the players it was a very competitive game," said Jackson.

"Obviously really disappointed with the result. It was a challenging game for us and unfortunately in the end we didn't come out with anything. The lads put the effort in, I thought we had periods of the game, certainly in the second half there was a spell where we put Chelsea under some pressure and maybe could have got back into the game. Disappointed to concede two set-play goals as always, the penalty at the end killed it off but I didn't think it was a penalty."

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Set-pieces have been an issue for the 23s this season and Leeds were well aware of the threat posted by Dutch teenager Mbuyamba, but couldn't prevent him from winning headers in the hosts' box.

What they did do well, however, was react to Chelsea's gameplan and give themselves a route back into the game.

"We knew the threat, it's been our Achilles' heel this season so we tried to jiggle things about a bit and put different players marking," said Jackson.

"We knew that particular player was a powerful player from set-pieces and he's scored two goals, it's killed us a little bit.

ACHILLES' HEEL - Mark Jackson says Leeds United Under 23s have suffered from set-pieces defensively this season. The problem cropped up against Chelsea at Thorp Arch. Pic: Getty

"We got ourselves back into the game in the first half and gave ourselves a chance. We organised our press a lot better in the second half, adjusted a few things at half-time. To be fair to the boys during the first half they recognised things better on the pitch because it was clear Chelsea were trying to work us and exploit how we play. I thought we dealt with that better in the second half and we affected the game more but unfortunately couldn't get that equaliser."

Leeds don't return to Premier League 2 action until Monday November 29, when they visit Manchester City who currently sit third in the table, nine points clear of the 10th-placed Whites with a game in hand.

"There's a gap now, it's about getting the lads up and working again," said Jackson.

"We'll look forward to the next game, that's what footballers do. You have to be mindful of disappointments, defeats happen but you have to get back on the training pitch, work hard and put it right in the next game."