Fletwood Town 2 Leeds United 2
(1-1 after 90 mins, Leeds win 5 - 4 on penalties)

At the end of the day a first round EFL Cup tie is all about getting through it and into the second round; we did that last night. It was bound to be a difficult game against a useful League One outfit in blustery wet conditions and with the memory of a mostly dire performance at QPR still fresh in the minds of our younger players and an expectant sell-out away support demanding an improvement.

Unlike many Championship sides in the EFL Cup this week, Leeds played a pretty much full strength team, presumably to give those who failed us on Sunday a chance to atone and show us what they are capable of on a good day. If that was the aim then it didn’t quite work out, as at half time many of us were starting to think we’d assembled a new side very little better than the old one that scrambled into mid table under Steve Evans. Indeed at half time there was little cause for optimism having gone down to a soft 13th minute goal following a right wing corner and with Leeds looking every bit as disjointed and just as weak in the challenge as they did in London. The exception was that Pablo Hernandez was now in amongst them and showing some glimpses of the sort of quality on the ball we have missed for so long.

Thankfully, and again similar to what happened in London, Leeds found the start button in the second half and began to look more like a team. Hernandez was pulling the strings in the inside left channel and Leeds were bossing the vast majority of the possession. We had plenty of shots too but too often they flew over the top of our stand. It looked as if our efforts would again prove too little too late until Marcus Antonsson reminded us why he is with us in the dying seconds. Taylor touched the ball inside to Mowatt who went past his man before scuffing the ball across to the angle of the 6-yard box. Antonsson turned on a sixpence and lashed the ball high into the roof of the net at the near post and everything looked a little brighter.

Antonsson was then brought down in the box when a clever little lob from Roofe found him behind the defence but a defender’s boot got him before he could pull the trigger again. Chris Wood now looks a very assured penalty taker and he thumped the kick into the left corner. Leeds still contrived to mess things up as they failed to see the game out – leaving Hunter all alone 15 yards from goal to steer home the equaliser and send us to penalties. All 1,300 Leeds fans must have thought they knew what was coming – someone would fail from the spot for us and we’d be trailing home miserable and wet. For once though, Leeds did a thoroughly professional job on the spot kicks, scoring them all and offering no chance whatsoever while Rob Green did the business by saving the 5th Fleetwood kick to a crescendo of noise from the away end doing their bit to apply the pressure!

The positives tonight were the obvious fight and character we showed to come back after conceding so early and to keep going to the death; a decent debut in horrible conditions from Pablo Hernandez; and a professional job on those spot kicks. The obvious negative was the conceding of two more goals that a Championship defence ought to have prevented and another night of wayward shooting. Overall this was a better job than Sunday but against League One opposition it was arguably not good enough. Birmingham will pose far more problems on Saturday.

 

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Game Statistics:

                         Fleetwood T       Leeds U

Possession          39%                       61%

Shots                     11                         24

On Target                4                          8

Corners                   8                         13

Fouls                      13                        13

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