Today’s Under-23’s match-up between Leeds United and Burnley saw two sides tied at joint-top of the Professional Development League 2 facing off against each other.
Carlos Corberan put out a strong Leeds United side, a powerful side packed with a lot of players with first-team experience. Chief amongst these was the continuing return from injury of Izzy Brown, as well as the return of £10million man Patrick Bamford.
It was a game that the young Whites took hold of by the scruff of the neck from the outset. They controlled the ball well, passing it around with aplomb at times. However, it was Burnley who took the lead when a former pupil of mine, Rob Harker, took the ball into the area before laying it off for Tinashe Chakwana to tap in.
Whilst Leeds appeared a little rattled, Burnley’s youngsters had more of the ball. However, Jack Harrison began to stamp his class and authority on the game – increasingly driving Leeds forward. It was his sublime no-look through ball that split the Claret’s defence and allowed Patrick Bamford to scamper away, his lifted lob beating the onrushing Tom Heaton to level for the Whites.
The game continued to see-saw with both sides showing good touches. It was that ‘man’ Harker again who set up Burnley’s second just before half-time. Bullying his way down the left, he muscled into the area and crossed for Dan Ageyi to smash the ball past Will Huffer.
The start of the second-half brought three goals in as many minutes and saw the game move from 2-1 to 3-3. First Leeds United equalised (49′) through Jack Clarke who scored after a mazy run. Harker then got a reward for his hard work (50′) with a close-range tap-in. There was just enough time to catch a breath before Lewis Baker (52′) equalised with a low strike to the bottom corner.
That was as good as it got for Burnley in terms of goals as the Whites pulled away with three more in the last 30 minutes. First it was Izzy Brown (61′) who put Leeds United in front for the first time with a stabbed home effort after a cross from Clark Odour.
Eight minutes later it was 5-3 as Bamford scored his second of the afternoon, sliding home the ball at the back post. Bamford scored his hat-trick goal (85′) after smashing the ball with a powerful volley into the top corner to round out the scoring.
For Leeds United’s Under-23s it meant a return to the top of the league but, more importantly, it was a further step up in fitness for Izzy Brown and Patrick Bamford as they return from their injury nightmares.