Mistakes handed Leeds the advantage
Town: Chris Weale, Jermaine Grandison, Joe Jacobson (Wildig, 80), Luke Summerfield (Hall, 80), Rob Purdie, Michael Hector, Paul Parry, Matt Richards (c), Terry Gornell (Bradshaw, 86), Marvin Morgan, Mark Wright
Subs: Joe Anyon, Tom Bradshaw, Jon Taylor, Reuben Hazell, Asa Hall, Connor Goldson, Aaron Wildig
Leeds United: Paddy Kenny, Lee Peltier, Jason Pearce, Paul Green (Poleon, 76), Rodolph Austin, Luciano Becchio, Luke Varney (Brown, 86), Aidan White, David Norris (c), Sam Byram, Ross McCormack (Diouf, 76)
Subs: Jamie Ashdown, Adam Drury, Patrick Kisnorbo, Michael Brown, Andy Gray, El Hadji Diouf, Dominic Poleon
Referee: Mr. M. Heywood
Assistants: Mr. K. Mattocks & Mr. M. Metcalfe
Fourth Official: Mr. M. Griffiths
Martin Wild reports from Elland Road
Some clinical finishing by Leeds United taught Shrewsbury the harshest of lessons in this Capital One Cup tie at Elland Road as they ran out comfortable winners in the end. Luciano Becchio put Leeds ahead and Luke Varney stretched their advantage six minutes later. Further goals after the break from David Norris and a Luke McCormack penalty put the gloss on an impressive display from the Yorkshiremen although Shrewsbury created a hatful of chances.
Graham Turner gave shirts to five debutants with Chris Weale starting in goal with Rob Purdie and Michael Hector lining up in defence, while Luke Summerfield and Paul Parry also made their first appearances for the club in a midfield four.
It was a shirt-sleeve weather kind of day and a reasonable crowd were in attendance with Town represented by good numbers in West Yorkshire.
Right on three minutes Town had a great chance to get in front. Terry Gornell pulled the ball back from the dead-ball line and Marvin Morgan let the ball run for Mark Wright unmarked on the edge of the area. Wright swung his right foot at the ball but the shot lacked placement and power which
allowed Paddy Kenny to make the save low down to his right. In fact, in the opening five minutes Shrewsbury were much the brighter side with chances for Parry and Hector both thwarted by excellent blocks as they took the game to their more illustrious counterparts.
Parry lashed another shot from distance wide as Town continued to dictate play and they were clearly out to enjoy themselves on this big stage. Last season saw impressive performances in the same competition and they appeared to be more than a match for Neil Warnock’s side based on the opening
quarter of an hour. The pitch certainly suited Town’s passing game and they were pulling all the strings in midfield with Leeds distinctly second best.
They had an almighty scare too after 17 minutes when Parry’s corner landed at the feet of Jermaine Grandison but the fans’ favourite just couldn’t dig the ball out of his feet inside the six yard box and the glorious opportunity went begging.
It was all Town and seconds after Kenny had denied Grandison again – this time from a Wright corner - Leeds went in front and to say it was against the run of play would be the greatest of understatements. Rodolph Austin sent in a wickedly dipping shot from all of 35 yards and as Weale palmed the ball down Hector didn’t have time to adjust and Luciano Becchio pounced to smack the ball home from eight yards.
Town’s response to falling behind was impressive with Summerfield forcing the over-worked Kenny into another fine save midway through the half. Indeed, United were indebted to their keeper who was showing the kind of form that made him a Premier League regular last season for Queen’s Park
But a calamitous error at the back saw Shrewsbury concede a second after 26 minutes. Hector lost possession in a vital area allowing Luke Varney to get away. He knocked the ball square for Ross McCormack and as Weale went down to limit the striker’s options, he chipped it over the Town stopper for Varney to help the ball into an unguarded goal.
It was so cruel on Shrews who found themselves two adrift when they had played well enough to have held a lead of their own. Undoubtedly though, they had contributed to their own downfall and will have been disappointed to gift their opponents both goals without them having to work too hard for the privilege.
Leeds were now of course in the ascendancy and were winning a few more personal battles. Becchio headed over from Varney’s excellent touchline delivery and the home fans packed away their anti-Ken Bates chants to concentrate on on-field matters.
The goals had altered the course of the game and the hosts ended the half in control - with an inquest likely to be underway in the away dressing room during the interval.
Half-Time: Leeds United 2 Town 0
Ten minutes into the second half Leeds could have killed the game off. There was some precise passing in and around the penalty area and when Becchio fed skipper David Norris, Weale had to be alert to make the stop with his legs as the midfielder attempted to glide the ball past him.
There was a smashing atmosphere inside the stadium with the away fans still in good voice down below us despite their side’s disadvantage.
Warnock’s charges were doing most of the early pressing with the game now into its final third but Town were by no means out of it though their earlier free-flowing football had largely dissipated.
There appeared to have been a great chance spurned when Kenny made a dog’s dinner of a Parry free-kick and as the ball fell perfectly for Morgan, the big man scooped it up over the bar with Kenny still on the ground. Thankfully, a linesman’s flag helped spare the number 10’s blushes. Good job too, as
the game was finally ended as a contest after 65 minutes. Varney climbed high to head the ball into the path of Norris and his shot found its way past Weale – though the keeper might have done better with the shot not carrying that much weight behind it.
Within five minutes it was 4-0. Paul Green’s attempt to lift the ball beyond Hector struck the defender’s hand and McCormack confidently beat Weale from the spot.
Leeds were rampant at this stage and though it had taken them a bit of time to find their feet in this game, they managed to weather the storm and were now operating in cruise control approaching the last quarter hour. It was certainly a baptism of fire for Hector who has looked so assured in pre-season. He will have endured better afternoons than this for sure but he will be better for the experience and like the rest of his colleagues will be ready for the challenge of League One football starting next week at Bramall Lane.
The chance of a consolation came and went when Morgan was forced wide even though he managed to get a scrambled shot away that Kenny got a hand to, but such was Town’s wretched luck this afternoon that the linesman had cramp in his arm and failed to raise it to signal the obvious corner.
Both sides made a couple of late substitutions with Asa Hall and Aaron Wildig getting a 10 minute run-out for Summerfield and Joe Jacobson. Hall was soon in the thick of it too latching onto a great through ball from Matt Richards but his effort was blocked at the near post. On a plus point, at least we got the corner though that came to nothing. Two more came in quick succession to loud and ironic cheers from the Salopians present in an 18,000 crowd – a reminder to the man with the flag that they were less than enamoured with his contributions.
Tom Bradshaw replaced Gornell with less than five minutes left but Ronaldo, Messi and Iniesta wouldn’t alter things at this late stage – Town were down and out despite a valiant effort from the men in Blue and Amber. They might not have finished in a medals position today but they still left the arena to warm applause from their noisy – and appreciative - supporters. There can be no argument about the scoreline here, though the margin of victory was harsh in the extreme for Turner’s side.
Full-Time: Leeds United 4 Town 0