Leeds United 2 Oxford United 0
(Roofe 35, Dallas 84)
The final pre-season game arrived with a surprise even before a ball was kicked… it was the visitors Oxford playing in all black and not Leeds! I was convinced we’d use the opportunity to market our new all black ensemble but I guess Oxford didn’t bring their yellow and blue outfits with them!
When it came to the Leeds line-up though there were no real surprises for me apart from maybe the fact that Felix Wiedwald got the shout in goal; my guess is he’ll now be the man between the sticks at Bolton next Sunday. The rest of the side that began this game was spot on to my predictions made in the SD Eibar report that can also be found by searching the bar above. Hence, Luke Ayling was at right back and with Berardi fit he took the LB spot. In the middle Pennington partnered Cooper – not satisfactory in my mind but with Pontus suspended for Bolton and no new face as yet on the books that’s pretty much all we have.
Kalvin Phillips joined Eunan O’Kane as the holding pair in midfield as Christiansen continued with his 4 – 2 – 3 – 1 formation, and the best three attacking midfielders we’ve seen in pre-season - Roofe, Hernandez and Alioski played in the forward roles with Chris Wood as usual up top. I fully expect this to be the side we see at Bolton unless injuries rule any of them out.
It was a side that played OK too, not amazingly brilliant, but OK. Against a keen if not particularly potent looking Oxford XI it was enough to boss the game without necessarily filling us all with confidence that this really is the real deal in terms of a Championship promotion side. It’s still early days though of course but maybe we didn’t carve out enough good chances against what after all is only a League One side… we don’t know how good a League One side of course!
Leeds took the lead in the 35th minute and it was another good confidence boost for Kemar Roofe as he cut inside from the right wing and firmly planted the ball in the bottom corner for his third goal of pre-season. He failed to really get going last season but looks in form and in favour as we go into our first competitive game; let’s hope so.
Thomas Christiansen kept that initial line-up through to the hour mark and then rang the changes. Saiz predictably replaced Hernandez, Sacko came on for Roofe and Stuart Dallas replaced Alioski in the 63rd minute and then on 78 minutes another four changes were made as Ayling, O’Kane, Phillips and Chris Wood gave way to Anita, Klich, Bridcutt and Ekuban.
If there is a player who could still force his way into the starting XI next week I’d say it is Stuart Dallas; he is not as direct as either Roofe or Alioski but he too looks in confident mood and he has perfected this right foot curler from the left edge of the box; he got an identical goal today to the two he got at Guiseley. I’d be surprised if he gets the shout but not that surprised!
So, that’s pre-season done for another year; we seem to have come through it well with no serious injuries and with the side looking fit and eager. I’d question the quality of the opposition we’ve faced and we won’t really know how we rank against our Championship rivals until next Sunday evening. By all accounts Bolton are in some disarray and they are expected to struggle this season so we need to make a statement against them; nothing less than a solid win will do and certainly we need to avoid a first day calamity such as we produced last season down at Loftus Road. Here we go, fasten those belts up tight!