Burnley clash of yesteryear clearly highlights Leeds United squad's incredible progress

Leeds United and Burnley are now rivals when it comes to fighting to stay in the Premier League.

By Lee Sobot
Sunday, 2nd January 2022, 4:45 am

Six and a half years ago, the two sides were battling it out in a bid to reach the top flight, Mirco Antenucci’s stunning strike ultimately only enough to give the Whites a 1-1 draw at Elland Road in August 2015 in new boss Uwe Rosler’s first game in charge.

Chairman Massimo Cellino had appointed Rosler in July to replace Neil Redfearn after Leeds had finished a fifth consecutive season in the Championship in 15th place.

Burnley were looking to bounce back to the country’s top flight at the first attempt having been relegated the previous term.

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IN THE BEGINNING: Leeds United's Stuart Dallas, back, on his Whites debut back in August 2015 as Uwe Rosler's side face Burnley at Elland Road, the home XI also featuring Chris Wood, centre, and Alex Mowatt, right. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

The Clarets kept the faith with boss Sean Dyche who had already been at the helm for three years having been brought in to replace Eddie Howe in October 2012.

Time would prove that Burnley were very quickly on their way back and two players in United’s line up were longer term on their way to the Clarets in Chris Wood and Charlie Taylor.

United’s squad to face the Clarets featured three players from the current Premier League side as Stuart Dallas made his debut following his summer switch from Brentford.

Liam Cooper, signed the previous summer from Chesterfield, and a young Kalvin Phillips sat on the bench as rapidly rising star Lewis Cook took his place in midfield alongside Alex Mowatt and Tom Adeyemi.

A crowd of 27,672 took their seats inside Elland Road and Burnley were denied an early penalty after Taylor had dragged down Burnley striker Lukas Jutkiewicz in the box.

The frame of the goal then prevented United from going in front as a shot on the half volley from Whites debutante Dallas was saved by Tom Heaton and parried on to the crossbar.

The effort came after terrific work from Sam Byram down the right, Byram’s cross setting up Wood who made a mess of his attempted volley, only for Dallas so nearly to cash in.

Burney managed to scramble clear the rebound and the Clarets then saw another claim for a spot kick ignored after Giuseppe Bellusci’s arm had prevented Jutkiewicz beating him on to Jelle Vossen’s through ball.

More danger then presented itself in the 28th minute as Leeds failed to clear their lines on the edge of their area and Jutkiewicz played in Michael Kightly whose attempted low finish flew inches past the right hand post.

A lively first half instead ended goalless and Leeds then squandered a chance to go ahead in the 66th minute when Wood blazed a half volley over the bar as he latched on to Byram’s flicked header to keeper Marco Silvestri’s long punt upfield.

As the clock ticked into the game’s final ten minutes, the contest looked somehow destined to end goalless, Mowatt having been denied by the post and Rosler bringing Antenucci for Dallas in search of a winner.

Just 13 minutes after his introduction, Antenucci looked to have provided it when firing the Whites into an 83rd-minute lead.

The Italian controlled the ball on the edge of the box with his chest and then turned inside before unleashing a superb curling finish with his left foot which sailed into the left hand corner of the net.

Yet Burnley were to provide one final sting in the tail which arrived from former Whites youngster Sam Vokes just three minutes after Antenucci had fired Leeds ahead.

Tendayi Darikwa swung in a cross from the right and Vokes then managed to dissect centre backs Bellusci and Sol Bamba before producing a brilliant flicked header that flew past Silvestri into the top left.

It meant the Whites had to settle for a point as part of a season which would end in a 13th placed finish under Steve Evans, brought in to replace Rosler who was sacked after just his 12th game in charge.

Burnley, meanwhile, stormed to promotion as champions on 93 points, the Whites eventually following the Clarets up four years on.

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Thank you Laura Collins