Leeds United 2 – Preston North End 1 – The best of wins

Leeds United 1 Preston North End 1 – The best of wins.  Elland Road erupted in extra time as Leeds United got the goal they deserved to win the match. 

Leeds United 2 – Preston North End 1 – The best of wins.  Elland Road erupted in extra time as Leeds United got the goal they deserved to win the match.  Georginio jumped on a hoarding to celebrate like a hero. The fans surged forward and pushed over another hoarding.  Farke called it “the best of wins.” It was that kind of game.

Leeds had the pain of a 2-1 defeat in Boxing Day’s at Deepdale on Boxing Day, so there was a point to prove today.  Leeds United came into this match in form with a run of 14 unbeaten home games and the last three matches all being won 3-0.  After Southampton won on Saturday it was important Leeds won today to stay in the race.  Leeds ended the week with Mateo Joseph and Archie Gray signing long term contracts emphasising their faith in youth.

Farke admitted it was not a great performance but a priceless, hard fought win.  The other storm swirling around the pitch was the wind: causing corners and free kicks to swirl high away.  In the second half the referee lost control of the match – senseless yellow cards, players scrapping with each other.  Preston never looked like scoring a second goal but the Leeds fans wanted the win more, roaring the players on to make wave after wave of attack into extra time. 

It was a chaotic match that Leeds were never able to seize with both hands – Preston fouled their way through the match and were lucky to end up with eleven players on the pitch.  They did what they intended to do – disrupting Leeds play by repeatedly pushing the Leeds players over; antagonising Leeds players to get them yellow cards; closing down James and Summerville on the wings to protect their point, defending well so Leeds never really took their opportunities in front of goal, and slowing the match down.

Leeds got into the worst of starts.  After a Rodon tumble Leeds conceded in the first minute. A free kick into the box was then poorly defended allowing Keane to kick the ball into the net.  Leeds had not even crossed the half way line.  Leeds had again conceded an early goal giving them a lot of work to do.

Leeds showed their calmness by immediately scoring the equaliser, with the fast improving Gruev winning the ball, Summerville surging into the box, finding Firpo on the byline who lobs over to James at the back post and heads into the net.  The pace of Leeds left Preston just watching. A tenth goal for James this season and yet another assist from Firpo.

This was one of those matches that started as it meant to go – chaotically. The first ten minutes saw two goals, Preston then testing Meslier, Bamford having a go at the other end and Whiteman for Preston earning the first of many yellow cards in the match.  It took Leeds twenty minutes to take control of the ball but Preston never gave up.  They were always dangerous with their set piece free kicks and corners.

Leeds nearly had the perfect start to the second half as firstly Summerville danced his way in to the penalty box only for Georginio to hit the post; Bamford and Summerville quickly having chances on goal.  Preston were all over the place with the keeper coming out of his box leaving his defenders to spare his blushes.

After early pressure the game loses its rhythm with the referee losing control.  Leeds players are repeatedly pushed in the back with the referee letting them off.  There are ten yellow cards in the match with Leeds picking up four for retaliating.  At one point there is a melee, Georginio is knocked over but it is Bamford who gets a yellow card even though he didn’t actually do anything.

In extra time Leeds pile on the pressure and the fans want justice, which eventually came as Leeds are awarded a penalty for hand ball.  Bamford handed the ball to Piroe to take the penalty which he calmly scores.  Farke calls Piroe an ”ice cold finisher”.

After his misdemeanour with the Preston goal Rodon was a rock in defence.  Bamford spent the match as the nearly man – almost but not quite scoring. Summerville and Georginio also found the wind sent their shots skywards.

Man of the match: Daniel James, creating the chances, scoring the first goal, and running back to defend when needed.

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