Leeds United young guns exact revenge on hostile crowd after red card in eight-goal thriller

Leeds United’s Under-21 side were victorious in their opening Papa John’s Trophy fixture this season defeating Tranmere Rovers 5-3 at Prenton Park
Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

Twelve months ago, a youthful Leeds United Under-21 side were beaten convincingly by League Two Tranmere Rovers in the Papa John’s Trophy.

On Tuesday night, the youngsters exacted their revenge on their Football League opponents with a resounding 5-3 victory of their own, on Tranmere’s turf.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Goals from Sonny Perkins, Joe Gelhardt (2), Mateo Joseph and Cody Drameh sealed all three points for Leeds’ Under-21s in their opening Northern Section Group B fixture.

Mateo Joseph has scored nine goals in seven matches for Leeds United's Under-21s this seasonMateo Joseph has scored nine goals in seven matches for Leeds United's Under-21s this season
Mateo Joseph has scored nine goals in seven matches for Leeds United's Under-21s this season

The Whites had their work cut out early on, though, going two goals down within the opening 20 minutes.

A repeat of last season’s visit to Prenton Park looked entirely possible with Leeds struggling to find a rhythm, but United’s exciting front four had other ideas.

Before long Leeds had pegged Tranmere back with two quick-fire goals, courtesy of Sonny Perkins and Joe Gelhardt.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Perkins – who has taken to life at Leeds with aplomb – netted on the rebound after captain-for-the-evening Mateo Joseph had been denied, to make it ten consecutive matches in which he has found the net for club and country.

Only moments had passed before central midfielder Darko Gyabi, a summer signing along with Perkins, found Joe Gelhardt with a through-ball after wrestling back possession in the middle, and the first-team striker viciously rifled an effort into the far corner to draw level.

The young guns were not satisfied with their rapid-fire double, though, and two minutes later Leeds were in front.

Gelhardt again broke beyond the Tranmere back-line, latching onto Perkins’ pass and rounding the goalkeeper to slot into an unguarded net.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Leeds would not find themselves behind again in the game as the youngsters displayed maturity and game-management throughout.

The two sides went in level at the break with the scoreline reading 3-3, and Leeds wasted little time in restoring their advantage shortly after the restart.

Mateo Joseph had scored eight times in six games prior to Tuesday evening’s encounter and added to his season tally with a striker’s finish, capitalising on Willy Gnonto’s quick-thinking and Sam Greenwood’s cutback at a short free-kick.

The Whites then added a fifth – the third time in seven games this season they’ve managed to score five-or-more in a single fixture – through right-back Cody Drameh.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Perkins and Gyabi were involved once more, as Leeds transitioned play from left-to-right to find Drameh bearing down on goal via his flank.

Leeds had control but were soon rocked by a straight red card for talismanic midfielder Sam Greenwood, whose high challenge in the middle of the park was penalised by the referee.

United reacted by shifting to a five-man defence with Gyabi dropping into a central defensive trio, intent on limiting Tranmere’s entries into the penalty area and drawing fouls to sap momentum wherever possible.

Deadline day signing Gnonto made only his second appearance for Leeds’ Under-21s but left quite the impression on the 800 or so Tranmere supporters, who booed the Italian international as he vacated the field late on.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gnonto’s strength on the ball, which belies his 18 years, helped Leeds win foul after foul as Tranmere pushed for a way back into the game. His ability to frustrate opposition players, fans and even the Tranmere dugout, threatened to create a major flashpoint until head coach Michael Skubala recalled him to the bench with minutes remaining.

Leeds’ opening game in the competition ended with ten men on the field but three points in the bag, equalling last season’s effort and providing a firm footing in this season’s Papa John’s Trophy before fixtures against Bolton Wanderers and Crewe Alexandra to come.

Leeds United XI: Klaesson, Drameh (Snowdon 90’), Moore, Spencer (Debayo 80’), Sutcliffe, Gyabi, Greenwood (s/o 67’), Perkins (McCalmont 72’), Gelhardt, Gnonto (Allen 90’), Joseph (Miller 80’)

Unused subs: Christy, McGurk

Attendance: 816 (80 away)

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.