Luke Ayling’s second pre-season goal earned Leeds United a 1-1 draw at Southend United as Tyler Roberts finally ended his frustrating battle with injury.
Ayling followed up his winner at Forest Green Rovers on Tuesday by converting a neat finish on 35 minutes, cancelling out an earlier opener from Southend defender Harry Lennon.
The strike averted Leeds’ first defeat of pre-season and the clash at Roots Hall was marked by Roberts coming off the bench to make his first appearance since signing from West Bromwich Albion in January.
A shin injury sustained shortly after his arrival prevented Roberts from making his debut last season but he stepped up his recovery by featuring for the final 28 minutes.
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa reverted to a stronger line-up after using a team loaded with Under-23s during Thursday’s 1-1 draw at York City and his team showed just one change from Tuesday’s win at Forest Green Rovers with Laurens De Bock replacing Pablo Hernandez.
United saw a handful of early chances with Samuel Saiz, Kemar Roofe and Stuart Dallas trying their luck from long range but they were caught out in the 20th minute by Lennon’s simple finish.
Michael Kightly, who moments earlier had lashed a good chance over the crossbar, sent over a corner and Lennon was left unmarked to steer a downward header into the corner of Bailey Peacock-Farrell’s net.
Bielsa’s side narrowly avoided a second concession when Stephen McLaughlin’s effort on the turn beat Peacock-Farrell and flew just wide but Ayling equalised on 35 minutes with a deft, curling finish after a one-two with Adam Forshaw opened Southend up on the edge of their area.
The second half took time to come to life but after Roberts stepped into the fray, John White went close with a header at one end before Roofe drew a close-range block from goalkeeper Mark Oxley after Stuart Dallas bundled his way into the box on 74 minutes. Ayling almost snatched a winner late on when his effort from an angle was blocked on the line.
Full-time brought Leeds to the halfway stage of their pre-season schedule, with further friendlies against Oxford United, Guiseley and Spanish second division side Las Palmas to come next week.
Southend United: Oxley, Demetriou, Lennon, White, Coker, McLaughlin, Mantom, Dieng, Kightly, Cox, Hopper. Subs: (not used): Bishop, Hendrie, Turner, Hyam, Bwomono, Kyprianou, Barratt, Batlokwa, Klass, Ba, Robinson.
Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Ayling, Berardi, Forshaw, Cooper, Alioski, De Bock (Roberts 62), Dallas, Saiz, Phillips, Roofe. Subs (not used): Miazek, Edmondson, Stevens.
Referee: Gavin Ward