Leeds bounced back into second place in the Championship on Tuesday night, at least for 24 hours, after a comfortable 2-0 win against Preston that will have pleased the Matchbook punters. The pressure is now on Sheffield United to respond and they face a tricky away tie at Birmingham on Wednesday night, the team that beat Leeds 1-0 at the weekend. Leeds fans will now be looking to former manager Garry Monk to do them a big favour after inflicting a dent in their promotion hopes. Leeds fans will also be delighted that their side did their bit on Tuesday – a win was the minimum that was needed from a potentially tricky visit to the Deepdale – but the game threw up some interesting talking points.
Here are the three things we learned from Leeds last night:
Marcelo Bilesa stuck with 25-year-old striker Patrick Bamford again and his patience was rewarded with two vital goals. The first was a pearler, sweetly struck from outside the box. The second was just as elegant, a perfect header guided into the top corner after a fantastic dinked cross from Mateusz Klich found him unmarked in the box. That’s six in the last nine games for Bamford, which is a fine return that masks the fact that he scored none in the four games prior to this one. There’s no doubt the pressure’s on – Leeds need goals in every game – and Bamford has to keep going. The chances are, he’ll lead the line against Sheffield Wednesday after his brace, and, let’s whisper it, he wasn’t that convincing before he scored his first. These goals vindicate Bielsa’s decision to stick with him, though, and keep top scorer Kemar Roofe on the bench. Roofe will know all too well that it’s not easy getting back in a Bielsa starting XI.
Leeds’ lucky break
Marcelo Bielsa said after the game that he didn’t want to say the red card, awarded to Ben Pearson in the 49th minute of the game, won the game for Leeds. But, while it’s true that they were dominating the game before the hosts were reduced to 10 men, they never really look like scoring. Bamford was looking isolated up front and all the endeavour of Pablo Hernandez couldn’t fashion a clear-cut chance. Several hopeful long-range shots showed that Leeds were running out of ideas. The red card changed everything and galvanised Leeds, and the spare man did for Preston who were unable to cope with the onslaught. It’s about time Leeds started getting lucky breaks – it would be a brave man who suggested they’d had the rub of the green for the majority of this season.
Hernandez made the difference… again
There were many Leeds players deserving of praise last night: Luke Ayling, Mateusz Klich, Kalvin Phillips, Bamford and Tyler Roberts all had fine games. But Pablo Hernandez looked the danger man all game and he’s by far the most consistent Leeds player at the moment. He took advantage of the space afforded him at Deepdale and it seemed he was everywhere on the pitch. All his huff and puff didn’t create anything directly last night but he made a superb pass in the build-up to the second Bamford goal and proved why Leeds fans were so desperate that he was fit for the game, after being a major doubt in the lead-up. If Leeds go on and win automatic promotion, Hernandez will be a hero.