Leeds United's summer transfer duo help maintain unbeaten record in marathon victory

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Leeds United’s Under-21 side were 2-1 winners over Aston Villa on Friday night

Leeds’ unbeaten start to the season at senior and Under-21 level stretched to five matches on Friday evening as the junior side saw off Aston Villa in a hard-fought 2-1 away win.

Two expert strikes from summer signing Sonny Perkins helped Leeds on their way to another three points at Premier League 2 Division 2 level, rendering Mateo Joseph’s first half penalty miss irrelevant to the final scoreline.

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The young Whites went in front through Perkins, who after controlling Keenan Carole’s fizzed pass, dummied to his left before rifling into the far corner.

Darko Gyabi (L) and Sonny Perkins (R) sign for Leeds United (Pic: Leeds United)Darko Gyabi (L) and Sonny Perkins (R) sign for Leeds United (Pic: Leeds United)
Darko Gyabi (L) and Sonny Perkins (R) sign for Leeds United (Pic: Leeds United)

Much like Monday afternoon’s 2-2 draw with Norwich City Under-21s, Leeds conceded within 90 seconds of the game restarting, failing to clear from a corner.

Aston Villa defender Josh Feeney hooked in an equaliser and that is how the two sides went in at the break after Joseph’s tame spot-kick was saved by goalkeeper Filip Marschall.

Perkins’ fellow summer signing Darko Gyabi played a key role in Leeds’ marathon win, even if the foul he won for Joseph’s spurned penalty amounted to nothing in the end.

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The England Under-18 midfielder demonstrated his forward passing ability as well as his ease at moving through the gears with the ball at his feet.

His driving runs were a theme of the match which ran on until the 106th minute due to a pair of lengthy stoppages during the second half.

Shortly after the break, Leeds’ Jeremiah Mullen and Aston Villa defender Sil Swinkels were involved in a hefty collision at a United corner.

The pair clashed heads and required immediate treatment, leading to a six-minute delay.

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Head coaches Michael Skubala and Tony Carss were in agreement that the two players should be removed from the field as a precaution while they were properly assessed for concussion.

James Debayo replaced Mullen, while Aaron O’Reilly was substituted on for the somewhat worse-for-wear Swinkels.

Leeds weathered a storm during the second half, and against the run of play, Perkins found the back of the net for a second time from just outside the penalty area.

Jack Jenkins’ foray forward found the ex-West Ham teenager whose poise and close control allowed him half a yard to shoot low into the bottom right-hand corner of Marschall’s net.

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From that point on, Leeds’ superior fitness told and Aston Villa were pinned back for large periods.

Sharp, flowing moves – as well as the introduction of Alfie McCalmont and Sean McGurk’s fresh legs – helped Leeds assert their dominance and ensure they maintained the club’s unbeaten record to begin the new season.

Mateo Joseph, two-goal Sonny Perkins and Kalvin Phillips’ Manchester City makeweight Darko Gyabi were all signed in 2022 and already are staking a claim as key players within this Under-21 setup.

Leeds’ nine goals at Under-21 level this season have all been scored by Perkins or Joseph – the latter netting five in three matches, while Perkins has four in his first three United appearances.

Leeds’ next Under-21 outing is on Monday, August 29 when the young Whites host Nottingham Forest at Thorp Arch.

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