Match Report: Leeds United 2-0 Oxford - Samu Sáiz and Stuart Dallas sparkle in comfortable win
Saturday, 29th Jul 2017 19:01 by @LucasMonk_
On a glorious summer’s afternoon at Elland Road, Kemar Roofe netted against his former employers as Leeds United concluded their pre-season campaign by recording a thoroughly deserved victory against League One Oxford.
In their final outing of pre-season - a match that saw home debuts for a deluge of new signings - Thomas Christiansen’s charges deservedly claimed a 2-0 victory against Oxford United of League One.
Goals on the part of Kemar Roofe and fellow wide-man Stuart Dallas in either half proved decisive for Leeds, and ensured that the former assistant to erstwhile head coach Garry Monk, Pep Clotet, did not taste victory upon his return to Elland Road.
Head coach Christiansen, who is hopeful of securing the signatures of further players following a frenetic summer of transfers for the Whites, will doubtless have been pleased with his side’s diligence and application ahead of next week’s Championship opener away to Bolton.
Leeds United (4-2-3-1) - Wiedwald; Ayling, Pennington, Cooper, Berardi; O’Kane, Phillips; Roofe, Hernandez, Alioski; Wood.
Substitutes: Green (GK), Peacock-Farrell (GK), Denton, Anita, Gomes, Jansson, Bridcutt, Klich, Dallas, Saiz, Sacko, Antonsson, Doukara, Ekuban.
Oxford United (4-4-2) - Eastwood; Ribeiro, Nelson, Williamson, Carroll; Henry, Ledson, Ruffels, Johnson; Obika, Hall.
Substitutes: Shearer (GK), Tiendalli, Raglan, Martin, Xemi, Hemmings, Kelleher, Narsingh, Rothwell, Thomas, Payne, Ladrero.
Following kick-off, the hosts almost encountered calamity within the first minute of play when, after a poor clearance from goalkeeper Felix Wiedwald, Ryan Ledson fired toward goal from distance only to see his effort go wide of the mark.
Matthew Pennington, a youthful central defender on loan from Everton, was one of a plethora of recent additions who were making their first appearances at Elland Road and in the 10th minute of the match, he responded attentively to a Marvin Johnson cross; the defender manoeuvred well to clear a low ball after Johnson skilfully evaded a challenge by Luke Ayling.
During the opening half an hour of the match, both sides fought industriously to wrest control of the midfield so as to establish a clear route to goal - but neither prevailed until the 35th minute. An event that many had forecast arose when Eunan O’Kane maintained his composure to evade a challenge on the outer reaches of the penalty area prior to finding Kemar Roofe who, in a graceful style rather typical of the man, fired home a left-footed opener against his former club after leading opposing defender Canice Carroll a merry dance.
Six minutes passed before Leeds captain Liam Cooper nigh doubled the host’s advantage. Alas, the defender could only head a well-taken corner by Pablo Hernandez over the crossbar.
A thoroughly competitive first-half in which clear-cut, goal-scoring opportunities were a profound rarity. But for the excellence of O’Kane and Roofe in their creation of the opening goal, the visitors would deservedly have been reflecting upon a goalless first-half during the interval.
Not content with a slender advantage, Leeds pressed and probed during the early exchanges of play during the second period. A mere two minutes passed before Hernandez crossed for last season’s goal-poaching talisman, Chris Wood. The New Zealand international, who had scored in his previous outing against Spain’s Eibar, appeared to have been presented with a facile tap in, but an astounding save on U’s ‘keeper Simon Eastwood’s part denied the unusually profligate forward.
A minute elapsed before the visitors would enjoy an opening of their own. An excellent pass by Rob Hall located forward Jonathan Obika, who evaded the defensive endeavours of Ayling before firing straight at Leeds ‘keeper Felix Wiedwald.
The hosts would then come close to a second goal in the game’s 49th minute. A careless foul by Hall resulted in a Leeds free-kick, but Hernandez could only curl a swerving effort marginally over the crossbar.
On 56 minutes, opposing manager Josep Clotet opted to make the first substitution of the match. A perceptibly frustrated Obika was replaced by former Birmingham forward Wes Thomas.
Further substitutions for the U’s would follow, with James Henry, Mike Williamson, Christian Ribeiro and Hall being replaced by Payne, Raglan, Tiendalli and Narsingh respectively.
The hosts would then make a trinity of changes with Ezgjan Alioski, Kemar Roofe and Hernandez coming off in place of Stuart Dallas, Samu Sáiz and Hadi Sacko.
With 17 minutes of play remaining, Sáiz, clearly keen to make an impression, found the feet of Wood with a sumptuous ball. The forward turned inside the penalty area before unleashing a shot toward goal and, though the effort was subsequently blocked, the move elicited warm applause from the home supporters.
A minute passed before Swiss full-back, Gaetano Berardi, attempted an unworldly effort from long range. Much to the amusement of the home crowd, the defender’s 40-yard effort oh so very nearly caught U’s ‘keeper Eastwood napping.
Following that frenzied phase of play, Leeds head coach Thomas Christiansen elected to introduce another legion of substitutes. Vurnon Anita, Mateusz Klich, Liam Bridcutt and Caleb Ekuban replaced Kalvin Phillips, Ayling, O'Kane and Wood.
The alterations took effect rather promptly, as the hosts eluded the offside trap in the 84th minute of the match. After surging down the left, Stuart Dallas exquisitely curled a resplendent shot far beyond the desperate reaches of Eastwood and into the far corner.
Before the full-time whistle, there remained time for a third home goal - though it would not arise in spite of further impressive play from Leeds. Caleb Ekuban had appeared to create a certain opportunity for Hadi Sacko to score with a wondrous backheel, only for the Frenchman to power a low effort wide of the mark.
Full Time: Leeds United 2-0 Oxford United - Roofe 35’, Dallas 84’
As anticipated beforehand, a comfortable victory for Leeds - courtesy of two well-worked goals taken in consummate style.
A most ideal outcome to bring to an end Leeds United’s pre-season for head coach Thomas Christiansen and the management at large. In the presence of a healthy home attendance, the Whites found their feet in this match with no great haste - as you would expect of them in a friendly encounter - but once they did so, look back they did not. Though Oxford remained competitive throughout, they failed to pose a tangible threat to the home side.
Splendid goals from Kemar Roofe and Stuart Dallas, in addition to the absence of any injuries and impressive performances from Matthew Pennington, Eunan O’Kane and Samu Sáiz will doubtless have contented Christiansen ahead of next Sunday’s visit to recently promoted Bolton Wanderers.
With eight days until then, there remains ample time in which the management can prepare further for that imperative fixture. For now, Leeds supporters can indulge in relaxation - safe in the knowledge that for the first time in a great many years, there is justification for unbridled optimism ahead of a new campaign.
Photo: Action Images
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