|Leeds overcome Preston in low-key friendly|
Sat 04th Aug 2012 21:42 by Tim Whelan
This wasn’t a totally convincing performance from Team LU, but some well-taken goals from Lees, Byram and White were enough to win this pre-season friendly against Preston North End.
The Leeds contingent in made up at least half of a fairly sparse crowd at this game, while there seemed to be more flags than fans in the home stand to our left. So it was up to us to make a bit of atmosphere and we warmed up for the new season with a new song about Paddy Kenny’s party habits. Meanwhile, the Preston stewards ‘response unit’ kept themselves amused by swooping on everyone who’d taken a bottle of Budweiser up into the stand.
Leeds began with a fairly strong side, including Kisnorbo and new signing Pearce in central defence while Lees played at right back. McCormack and Becchio were the strike partnership and Michael Brown anchored the midfield, while White, Green, Varney and Norris also got a start. It was a lively game, with both sides looking to get forward, but the home side enjoyed more of the early possession.
Preston were unlucky with an overhead kick that came back off the bar, although Leeds could have taken the lead in the first few minutes when Stuckmann did well to turn a Varney shot round the post. The first Leeds substitution came after only half an hour, with Kisnorbo being replaced by Byram, who went to right back while Lees moved into the centre. Hopefully the change wasn’t due to injury, but we have to be concerned that Paddy was replaced so early in the game.
Only a minute later Leeds took the lead, as a deep cross was headed back across the area by Varney and the unmarked Lees did well to bring it down with his left and hammer the ball home with his right on the half-volley. We kept the lead until half-time without too much trouble, but Preston came out for the second half looking determined to get back into the game.
The warning came when King shot wide at the end of a neat passing move, but in the 57th minute Mousinho was given plenty of room to shoot home from the edge of the box. There seemed to be plenty of gaps in the Leeds defence, so we’ll have to hope the new players develop more of an understanding as the season goes on.
Warnock reacted to their goal by making three changes, though as the Preston PA was completely inaudible we were left to guess who they were. After looking at the official site tonight I now know that Gray, Drury and Pugh came on for Brown, McCormack and Becchio. And it worked as we re-took the lead on 66 minutes, as a corner was flicked on for Byram to hammer home.
Preston were close to a second equaliser a minute later but our new cult hero Paddy Kenny kept them out, before we made the game safe with our third goal in the 80th minute. After a fine passing move a shot from Norris was blocked on the edge of the area, but fell kindly for White to hammer past the keeper with his left foot.
In the final ten minutes a couple of youth players got their chance, as Thompson, Poleon and finally Turner came on, and Leeds held on for the win despite another scare when Preston’s lively right winger crashed a shot against the bar. It’s a job to say how good a result this was, as we were of course playing a team from the division below, but there were sufficient good points for Neil Warnock to feel reasonably satisfied.
That said, I didn’t come away with the feeling that we have enough quality in the squad to challenge for promotion, so we can only hope that the much-vaunted takeover finally goes through.
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