|Leeds United 2 v 1 Bolton Wanderers|
Tuesday, 14th August 2018 Kick-off 19:45
Match Report: Leeds United 2-1 Bolton Wanderers - Whites through despite Jekyll & Hyde performance
Wednesday, 15th Aug 2018 16:46 by @LucasMonk_
Despite something of a Jekyll and Hyde performance, Leeds United were still able to win a battle of two much-changed sides, and thus secure a third victory in succession, by worsting Bolton Wanderers at Elland Road in the Carabao Cup on Tuesday night.
£7m signing Patrick Bamford netted on his full debut as Leeds United continued their imperious start to the new season by defeating Bolton Wanderers 2-1.
Bamford, who had earlier missed a gilt-edged chance, gave the hosts a deserved lead on 27 minutes before Samuel Saiz doubled the advantage eight minutes later, and although Erhun Oztumer reduced the arrears early in the second period, United were able to hold firm and secure passage into the next round.
Head coach Marcelo Bielsa made a number of changes to the starting lineup that saw off the challenge of Derby County at Pride Park on Saturday afternoon, with Jamal Blackman, Lewis Baker, Jack Harrison, Jamie Shackleton and Patrick Bamford all being afforded their first starts in a white shirt.
Crucially, the Argentine also opted to retain the panache of the inimitable and irrepressible Samuel Saiz and the abrasive steel of the workmanlike Kalvin Phillips - a decision that would come to have a great influence upon the final outcome.
United began brightly, and were soon controlling possession with ample composure, patiently passing and probing in search of the telling pass.
And they found it in the opening 20 minutes, with Patrick Bamford its recipient.
In the 13th minute, Samuel Saiz received possession centrally from Jack Harrison before lifting a delicate pass over four Bolton defenders and into the feet of Bamford, but the striker snatched at the opportunity and could only scuff the ball wide.
Bamford would again go close five minutes later; he turned on a sixpence after more enterprising build-up before firing just wide of the left-hand post.
It was instead to be third-time lucky for the erstwhile Chelsea prodigy, but not before Jack Hobbs saw a header from a corner saved easily by Jamal Blackman in the Leeds goal.
United’s marquee purchase of the summer transfer window would finally strike a telling blow just prior to the half-hour mark - with a goal of irrefutable individual class.
After collecting possession outside of the area from Saiz, Bamford nonchalantly nutmegged Jack Hobbs before bursting into the area and coolly finishing past Remi Matthews to give Leeds the lead.
United goals are sometimes like London buses; you wait ages for one, and then two turn up at once.
A mere eight minutes after taking the lead, the hosts doubled it with a devastatingly alacritous counter-attack.
After Harrison fired wide from an acute angle just moments earlier, the hosts struck from a Wanderers corner.
Lewis Baker surged and surged upfield before passing left for Saiz, who took one touch to cut inside, then another, and then one more for good measure, before firing a low shot past Matthews and into the net.
It was an excellent first half from the home side, who rightly left the field to approving applause from their adoring supporters after dictating proceedings in a cool and dignified manner against the agitated brutes of Bolton, who seemed intent on kicking anything that moved, bar the ball.
But the second half would prove immeasurably more troublesome - and much of the trouble was of Leeds’ own creation.
Marcelo Bielsa will have undoubtedly been seething inside when his team gifted the visitors possession from a perfunctory throw-in from which their deficit was reduced to a single goal.
Yanic Wildschut burst into the box, and although he was unable to get a shot in on goal, the ball fell kindly for debutant Erhun Oztumer, who calmly curled past Blackman to send alarm bells ringing amongst an audibly perturbed home support.
United shortly thereafter had a chance to extinguish any prospect of a Bolton revival, but Bamford could only lash a wild volley over the bar after another dinked pass from Saiz was headed down into his path.
Unlike the first-half, chances were few and far between, but Wanderers’ best opportunity to restore parity was frittered away by Jonathan Grounds, another of their many debutants.
After Blackman somehow fumbled a weak shot from Wildschut, Grounds spared the goalkeeper’s blushes by hammering the ball high and wide from close range - a huge let-off for the hosts.
For the remainder of the match, both teams scarcely threatened to score a fourth goal of the evening, with Bamford shooting weakly into the arms of Matthews and Harrison arching a hideous effort way over the crossbar as Leeds attempted to kill off their opponents.
Summary: unfamiliarity breeds contempt - and United are not yet finished article
United would ultimately not require another goal, and although they secured progression into the next round with a much-changed lineup, their Jekyll and Hyde performance ought to be reflected upon with caution - their performance in the first half was nacreous, but in the second nauseous.
There were still many positives to take from the evening, though.
Patrick Bamford produced one of the highlights of the evening by netting his first goal for the club, but Kalvin Phillips and Samuel Saiz were the match-winners for Leeds.
Pontus Jansson was making his first appearance since the World Cup, and the defensive steel of Phillips compensated for the Swede’s rustiness on more than one occasion.
Saiz, meanwhile, took on the role of being the team’s sole creator with aplomb, fashioning several gilt-edged chances with his wonderful range of passing.
Another positive lies in the fact that youngsters Tom Pearce and Jamie Shackleton both produced steady defensive showings on either flank, with the latter coping incredibly well with the physicality of Bolton’s Clayton Donaldson.
But if Leeds wish to finish the campaign within the uppermost reaches of the Championship, mistakes such as that which allowed a poor Wanderers side back into the match must be ironed out, and more match fitness and team cohesion should be just the tonic, starting with the visit of Rotherham on Saturday in the first Yorkshire derby of the season.
A hodgepodge team lacking in cohesiveness, as well as fitness, will of course be prone to mistakes that prompt ire from the fans.
Celebrate progression, but exercise caution; United are not yet the finished article, as evidenced by this display.
Leeds United (4-1-4-1): Blackman; Shackleton, Jansson, Ayling, Pearce; Phillips; Roberts (Klich 68’), Baker, Saiz (Alioski 69’), Harrison; Bamford (Roofe 80’).
Unused Subs: Huffer, Shaughnessy, Berardi, De Bock.
Bolton Wanderers (4-4-1-1): Matthews; Little, Hobbs, Wilson, Grounds (Taylor 74’); Donaldson (Noone 57’), Vela, O’Neil, Wildschut; Oztumer; Hall (Magennis 65’).
Unused Subs: Alnwick, Beevers, Olkowski, Pritchard.
Match Statistics (Leeds / Bolton)
Shots: 14 / 9
On target: 5 / 5
Possession: 57% / 43%
Corners: 4 / 2
Fouls: 6 / 8
Referee: Andy Haines.
Man of the match: Kalvin Phillips (Leeds).
Photo: Action Images
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