'That was the challenge' - Mark Jackson left delighted by Leeds United's youngsters after EFL Trophy must-win pressure
Mark Jackson was left delighted with how his Leeds United youngsters responded to the pressure of a must-win game in the EFL Trophy on Tuesday.
The Whites sent an Under-21s outfit to Oldham Athletic knowing three points were required if they were to give themselves any chance of progressing from Group B.
Leeds exited the tournament at the opening stage without a win in 2020 and were up against it following defeat at Tranmere Rovers two weeks ago.
United were searching for a first three-point haul in the competition since taking up the invitation to join the tournament last season at Boundary Park.
Jackson, though, saw his development squad produce an impressive performance to secure a historic 3-2 victory over the League Two Latics.
A penalty from Crysencio Summerville and a deflected effort from Max Dean fell either side of an own goal from Oldham captain Harrison McGahey as United were clinical.
Keith Curle's side gave a better look to the scoreline in added time through substitute Davis Keillor-Dunno with Zak Dearnley having earlier struck before the Whites restored their two-goal cushion in swift fashion.
With the victory Leeds have now given themselves hope of qualifying for the knockout rounds ahead of a final group stage meeting with Salford City next month.
"We tasked the boys with winning the game today because we knew if we were going to have a chance to move on we needed to win," Jackson told the YEP post-match.
"That was a challenge for the boys. There's a way we want to win and play but we did say it was a must-win game for us. They took that pressure really well and managed to come out with the three points.
"I thought we managed the game. It wasn't being negative by asking them to be streetwise and savvy if we got ahead. There were certain elements we were pleased with.
"We were disappointed to concede the two goals but we created some good opportunities. All in all, I'm really proud of the players tonight. It gives us a chance to go into the game against Salford and have the opportunity to progress."
Asked about the celebrations at the end of the game, which took place in front of the 108 Leeds fans that travelled to Oldham, Jackson said: "Every game should mean everything to players at this football club.
"That's the environment Marcelo [Bielsa] builds and we continue that all the way down throughout the academy. It means a lot to players to win football matches and to win in the manner of how we try to play.
"It should mean everything and it does as a staff and squad."