When a game ends 3-6, you are either watching tennis or two poor defences at work in a game of football. That was only part of the reason behind Leeds United’s Under-23’s big win today at Burnley.
In truth, neither side’s defence was ‘bad’ per se, yes there were lapses to be clearly seen, but to call them bad would be to do them a disservice. It would also take away some of the gloss of an exciting, end-to-end game that had NINE goals in it.
It was a scrappy first 45 minutes, with Leeds’ slick passing somewhat countered by the odd weakness at the back that was exploited by a powerful, and crafty, Burnley frontline led by bustling #9 Robert Harker. Burnley edged it 2-1 thanks to two defensive lapses from the young Whites, Leeds’ reply coming via a Patrick Bamford lob on his return from injury.
The second 45 minutes was more open, it had to be with a total of SIX goals flying in. Three of those were scored in the space of three minutes early in the half to see the scores settle at 3-3…for a while. Jack Clarke (50′) equalised for Leeds before Harker (52′) nudged Burnley back in front only for Lewis Baker (53′) to score and restore parity.
After the hour mark, it was a ruthless Leeds United display that saw them score a further three times and wrench the game away from the home side. Izzy Brown (61′) put Leeds in front for the first time in the game at 3-4.
Then it was a case of the Bamford show as Leeds’ £10million man made it 3-5 with a prodded second goal (71′) before smashing in his hat-trick goal (85′) to round off an entertaining afternoon at Burnley’s Barnfield Training Centre.
First team player ratings
Lewis Baker – looked lively and controlled things from midfield. Composed on the ball and always looking to bring players into the action. Movement off the ball gave others options. Sprayed the ball around well, range of passing on display. Took goal well, a goal which was a just reward for his efforts in the game. A reliable player to have in the first-team squad, will surely be given more of a run-out later in the season (7/10)
Jack Harrison – lively throughout .Started off the game hugging the left touchline and had the beating of his man with ease. Worked hard to get to the byline and put dangerous balls into the box. Pass to set up Patrick Bamford for his first was a peach of a defence-splitter from a more central position. Showed the guile and class that has led United to borrow him for the season from Manchester City (7.5/10)
Jack Clarke – can see why Marcelo Bielsa likes him so much. Came on at half-time and showed just why he’s rated so highly at Elland Road. Brought Leeds level early in the half with a fine effort after a mazy run. Terrorised Burnley’s youngsters all half. Set up goals five and six with two assists for Patrick Bamford, the last goal demonstrating his weaving running and danger. Can easily see him doing bits for the first-team (7.5/10)
Izzy Brown – another solid game from the Chelsea forward as he continues his comeback from injury. Looks powerful and bristling with menace. Hungry for the ball, always getting himself in good positions and making a general nuisance of himself. Showed that he will be a force for the Whites in the second part of the season. Took his goal well, and generally wasn’t phased throughout the game (7.5/10)
Patrick Bamford – first start since September and he responds with a hat-trick. Was threatening early on, only the ball getting stuck under his feet preventing him from notching an early goal. His run and finish for the first was both powerful and sublime at the same time. Indeed, he took all three of his goals very well, showing little if any signs of ring-rust after his injury layoff. Deft touches, good movement, and deadly finishing, Bamford displayed all of this. It suggests that he will become an integral part of Marcelo Bielsa’s plans between now and early May (9/10)