Leeds United youngsters throw gauntlet down to senior squad in statement Southampton win

Leeds United’s Under-21 side leapfrogged Southampton B back into 1st place in Premier League 2 Division 2 on Friday night with victory by a 2-1 scoreline
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The Whites returned to the summit of PL2 Division 2 for the first time since a four-game winless run at the beginning of the year, seeing off a strong Southampton side at the Saints’ Staplewood training ground.

Dave Horseman’s Southampton B named four senior players in their starting line-up, including experienced goalkeeper Alex McCarthy, summer signings Joe Aribo and Samuel Edozie, as well as January addition James Bree. However, the hosts found themselves two goals down inside 20 minutes courtesy of strikes from Mateo Joseph and Jeremiah Mullen in Leeds colours.

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Joseph’s 13th league goal of the season gave United the perfect start after Sonny Perkins had squandered an earlier opportunity. The intensity with which Paco Gallardo’s side played in his first game since replacing Michael Skubala in the dugout – who moves up to the senior backroom team – was a factor in Leeds’ strong start.

Mateo Joseph scored his 13th goal of the season in Leeds U21s' 2-1 win versus Southampton BMateo Joseph scored his 13th goal of the season in Leeds U21s' 2-1 win versus Southampton B
Mateo Joseph scored his 13th goal of the season in Leeds U21s' 2-1 win versus Southampton B

Central defender Mullen doubled the visitors’ lead shortly after Joseph’s opener, leaping highest in the middle of the penalty area and directing his header down into the corner of the net. Defensive partner Kris Moore turned in a Man of the Match display with several blocks, clearances and decisive tackles after Bree had reduced the arrears minutes before the half-time whistle.

Leeds weathered second half pressure impressively, demonstrating guile and determination of seasoned professionals to see out the eventual victory which moves them back into Division 2’s sole automatic promotion place.

The youngsters’ win, and the manner of their performance, has thrown the gauntlet down to Javi Gracia’s senior squad, who face the same opposition at Elland Road on Saturday afternoon.

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Leeds XI: Van den Heuvel (GK), Moore, Debayo, Mullen, Ferguson, Gyabi (Coleman 64’), Spencer, Snowdon (Thomas 53’), Allen, Perkins (Douglas 85’), Joseph © (Crew 64’)

Unused subs: Christy

Southampton XI: McCarthy (GK), Bree, Meghoma, Pambou, Armitage, Andrews (Dibling 74’), Amo-Ameyaw, Aribo, Ballard ©, Doyle, Edozie

Unused subs: Stewart, Otseh-Taiwo, Merry, Stepien-Iwumene