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Leeds United 2 v 1 Shrewsbury Town
Carabao Cup
Wednesday, 9th August 2023 Kick-off 19:45
Second half performance sees Leeds go through against Shrewsbury
Thursday, 10th Aug 2023 22:05 by Tim Whelan

Leeds made hard work of this Carabao cup tie in the first half, but stepped up a gear in the second and eventually got the better of Shrewsbury Town.

Daniel Farke named quite a strong lineup for this game, and although there were six changes, three of them involved players who had come off the bench on Sunday. The other three newcomers were Darlow, Gyabi and Shackleton. Cooper is out for about eight weeks, but Gnonto’s absence caused a lot of discussion, not injured but ‘unavailable’ for this game.

As kick-off approached there were long queues at the Kop turnstiles, possibly because a lot of the crowd were folk who don’t usually manage to get tickets, so weren’t familiar with the art of getting these smartphone things to work. Such are the wonders of modern technology. I finally managed to get to my seat just before kick-off, but there were quite a few who didn’t.

But I needn’t have rushed, because Leeds began the game at quite a slow pace, and it was all a bit disjointed, with the players taking it in turns to give the ball away with sloppy passes. Sometimes in these cup ties we have a team that looks reasonable on paper, but it can be a bit disjointed as we end up with a combination of players who aren’t that familiar with each other’s game.

Ampidu had moved back to a central defensive role, with Gyabi in the defensive midfield role, but I wouldn’t say Gyabi grabbed his chance to impress. On this evidence I can see why Archie Gray has got ahead of him in the pecking order, despite being two years younger. Wikipedia tells me he is 6 foot 5, so I thought he could be a presence at set pieces, but disappointingly he didn’t get into the area when we did finally get a corner.

I had hoped the slow start was a sporting gesture to make sure the fans who were late getting in didn’t miss anything, but we just carried on in this vein. The crowd started to get restless and the Shrews fans wanted to know if this was a library. We did create a couple of half-chances, but that was about it.

Gray exchanged passes with James and tried a shot from outside the area which cleared the bar, then Poveda cut in from the right and got some power behind his shot, but sent it too close to the keeper. And at the other end Shrewsbury’s first attack saw Hejde beaten all too easily on our left, before the ball was eventually scrambled clear.

Then in the 28th minute the visitors shocked us all by taking the lead. Gyabi failed to make a tackle as Perry ran through, and the shot took a deflection when Hejde tried to block it, and after Darlow got a touch to turn the ball onto the post it spun and crossed the line. And once they had a lead to protect they were content to camp in their own half of the field, and we looked even less likely to break them down.

James showed his pace a few times on the left but never managed to cut inside to good effect, while Gelhardt was struggling to make an impact in the centre. The half time whistle saw a few boos as the team came off, and a few changes were clearly going to be needed. Hejde was again put out of his left back misery with Byram coming on, while Gyabi was replaced by Stuijk, allowing Ampidu to move forward into midfield.

And from there Ampidu was able to have more of an impact on the game to drive us forward, and suddenly there was a lot more energy about the whole performance. And it took only seven minutes to get the equaliser, the move starting when James’ ball into the area was chested down by Shackleton into the path of Poveda, who beat a defender to shoot from a narrow angle.

Marosi could only beat the ball straight back out, where it hit the knee of the onrushing Gelhardt to loop into the net. Which might have been a fluke, but at least Joffy had shown a striker’s instinct to get into the right place for the rebound. I did wonder if Poveda had been offside from the initial knock-down, but the linesman was unmoved and this competition is thankfully free of VAR.

And in the 58th minute we went in front, as a corner bobbled through to Stuijk at the far post, and he stuck his left foot out to guide the ball into the net. From then on Leeds were in control, but couldn’t quite manage to get the third goal we needed to kill the tie off completely. Poveda made another opportunity with some nifty footwork, but unfortunately his fierce shot flew just past the post.

With seven minutes left Poveda left the field for Sinisterra to have a go, and the Colombian was to create our two best chances in the time that remained. First he cut into the area from the left but took an extra touch he didn’t really need and gave the defence the time they needed to get in the way of his shot.

And in injury time Sinisterra again jinked his way into the area, this time with only Marosi to beat. He tried to chip the keeper, but struck the ball too powerfully and it went just over the bar. Seven additional minutes were added, in which Drameh (just back from injury) and Bate made cameo appearances in place of James and Gelhardt.

We played out the remaining time with no further alarms to seal our victory, and our reward is a trip to Salford City in the next round, for the second time in four years. The performance could have been better, but we did the job and there are signs of this team coming together and that Farke is starting to work out his best eleven and his ideal formation. Onwards and upwards.


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