It may have been Friday the 13th, but there was absolutely no horror show from Leeds United against Wycombe, the team putting together a display that reflected their superiority over the League Two side.
Lee Erwin struggled for opportunities under former head coach Uwe Rosler, deciding to go on loan to Bury to add some English experience to his footballing CV.
This game served as a job application, his goal a reminder to Steve Evans that he possesses a striker in reserve that set the Scottish first tier alight towards the end of last season, should either of the current incumbents fail to keep up their goalscoring form from Huddersfield last week.
Evans said in the build-up to the game that he was treating it as a full-blown match. Admittedly, Erwin, Jordan Botaka and Will Buckley have struggled to get into the starting 11 in recent weeks, but all three were expected to play in the absence of Leeds’ internationals.
There was also a start for Tommaso Bianchi, his first appearance since a ligament injury at Reading on February 10. The appearance of Tom Adeyemi, Sol Bamba and Souleymane Doukara on the teamsheet rounded out a side that featured seven changes from the three-goal victory against Huddersfield Town.
While Guiseppe Bellusci may have performed a series of kick-ups before clearing the ball on one occasion and some of the refereeing decisions reflected a non-competitive tie, there was no absence of professionalism from the Leeds starters, not least Erwin, who shone throughout the first-half.
The former Motherwell man first had an impact on the game when brought down when clean through on goal and soon after forced Alex Lynch in the Wycombe net into turning the ball wide following nice footwork in the box.
It was therefore not a surprise to see Erwin turn home a low cross in the 29th minute. His run across the face of goal showed a poacher’s instinct, the Scot finishing first time after meeting the result of nice combination play from Scott Wootton and Botaka on the right-hand side.
The goal reflected the intensity with which Leeds approached the game, playing throughout as though this were a league fixture, or at least a cup game against lower league opposition. Even two changes at half-time did not dampen that, and it was Sam Byram, on for Gaetano Berardi, who fired in the Whites’ second of the game. A sweeping counter led to Doukara pulling the ball back to the edge of the area, and the right-back was there, charging forward to sweep the ball into the corner.
Wycombe were never entirely out of the game, and might have considered themselves unfortunate to have had a goal ruled out for offside in the first minute, Ryan Sellers striking from close.
However, they mainly tested Silvestri from long-range, despite the Italian goalkeeper struggling to deal with a few crossed set-pieces into the box.
It was from one of those, a corner, that Silvestri had to get down low and turn a header around the post as the match edged into the the last quarter, probably the closest Wycombe came to scoring in the game. A few slips aside from Erwin, Leeds could have had more. Casper Sloth also fired over after Byram’s second, and Botaka knocked the ball wide after more good effort from the young defender.
It was another display that highlighted a distinct difference in United’s outlook since Evans took charge, the team playing on the front foot throughout.
Wycombe Wanderers: Lynch; Harriman, Pierre, Stewart, Wood; McGinn, O’Nien (Bloomfield, 45), Kretzschmar (Thompson, 83), Sellers; Amadi-Holloway, Ugwu (Rowe, 72). Unused subs: Ingram, Jombati, Jacobson, McCarthy
Leeds United: Silvestri (Peacock-Farrell, 87); Wootton, Bamba, Bellusci, Berardi (Byram, 45); Botaka, Bianchi (Sloth, 45), Adeyemi (Phillips, 60), Buckley; Doukara, Erwin. Unused subs: Murphy, Mowatt, Antenucci.
Referee: Andy Woolmer (Northants).