Leeds United 2 (Bamford 27, Saiz 35))
Bolton Wdrs 1 (Oztumer 52)
Leeds made 8 changes from the side that took part in the demolition Derby on Saturday evening but Bolton made 10 to their side and on that basis alone it was always going to be a tighter game than some expected. But the fact that Leeds are these days able to call up the likes of Jamal Blackman, Pontus Jansson, Tyler Roberts, Lewis Baker, Jack Harrison and Patrick Bamford for second XI duty reduced the likelihood of a Bolton surprise victory. That likelihood was further minimised by the surprise inclusion of Samu Saiz to perform his usual “Enganche” role just in behind Bamford and the presence of 1st XI regulars Luke Ayling and Kalvin Phillips. Bolton left out the mainstays of their side that has surprised West Brom and Bristol City this season.
With all that in mind, it was little surprise that Leeds dominated the first 45 minutes, perhaps not quite in the same overwhelming manner as we put Derby to the sword but still pretty comprehensively. Samu Saiz once again darted here there and everywhere in pulling the strings and the only concern for Leeds fans was that he was out there at all, risking injury and the possibility of not being available for the next Championship duel, with Rotherham at the weekend. As it was we did see him hobbling off late in the game but we are told it was nothing too serious. By then he had inflicted far more damage to the Trotters.
Truth be told I didn’t see any evidence last night that any of the eight players brought in for this game will get a start against Rotherham. Yes, it was good to see Pontus back in action but the speed, or lack of it, with which he brought the ball away, compared with how we’ve seen Berardi and Cooper deal with the same scenarios, suggested he’s still a few games away from challenging for his old spot back unless injuries force the issue. Similarly, Patrick Bamford took his goal clinically enough but a couple of missed chances and his less mobile presence across the front line tells me Kemar Roofe is in no immediate danger either. Jamal Blackman didn’t really have enough action to show us how good he is and my guess is Bailey Peacock-Farrell is also pretty comfortable despite his failure to swat away that Tom Lawrence free-kick at the weekend. Elsewhere Tyler Roberts was pretty anonymous out on one wing while Jack Harrison was busy enough on the other but without providing the wow factor that he probably needs to oust Gianni Alioski at the moment. Meanwhile valuable big game experience was offered and taken by the two youngsters, Jamie Shackleton and Tom Pearce but my guess is they are likely to continue to watch and learn this season.
What was obvious though is that Marcelo Bielsa kept to his same MO last night and the same urgency, fitness and aggressive pursuit of the ball that we’ve seen in the Championship was there if not always quite as slickly carried out or successful. Bielsa has told us he wants two players for every position in his side and in most cases we can now see who the deputies are but they need more opportunities like this to hone their skills. At the moment the only real worry is that injuries or suspensions will come before those deputies are ready to seamlessly take their places at the top table. For now we can just celebrate that they did enough to get us into the next round of the Carabao Cup and maybe get us another great night of cup football such as we saw at Burnley or Leicester last season or against Norwich and Liverpool the season before. I love a good night of cup football!
Leeds Utd Bolton W
Possession 57% 43%
Shots 14 9
On Target 5 5
Corners 4 2
Fouls 6 8