Oxford United 4 (Henry 7, 43 Hall 26, Obika 61)
Leeds United 3 (Roberts 54, Baker 63, Clarke 71)
Another boiling hot day with the sweat rolling off the fans let alone the players! It was the turn of the second string players again for this tough looking game against a very strong Oxford United side and the only surprise to me was that, once again, Jamal Blackman didn’t get a full game. I’m sure all Leeds fans expect Bailey Peacock-Farrell and him to be fighting it out between them to decide who gets the nod for the Stoke game and yet Blackman was still to get a single minute between the posts in pre-season until last night; he would finally appear for the second half when Will Huffer made wade way after a less than impressive outing for the youngster.
It was a more normal formation this time compared with the last time we saw the second XI; up at York we had the delight of seeing Vieira and Klich playing in the middle of a back four! This time we had two recognised defenders in there in Hugo Diaz and Oriol Rey with two youngsters either side of them in Tom Pearce and Jamie Shackleton. That left Vieira and Klich to play their more normal midfield roles along with Ideguchi, Lewis Baker and Jack Clarke on the left wing. Sam Dalby did 45 minutes as the one up front in another 4 – 1 – 4 – 1 formation which Bielsa seems to have settled on for both his principal groups of players. Dalby was withdrawn for Edmundson at half time as was Ideguchi for Tyler Roberts. That change seemed to be the catalyst for Leeds to sort themselves out after a very lack lustre first 45 minutes that saw us down 3 – 0 at the break and looking very much second best by the second team.
Right from the start of the 2nd half Leeds looked a different side and without doubt we can conclude that Ryan Edmundson is perhaps ahead of Sam Dalby in development though both are still very raw. Ryan was unlucky to be caught an inch offside when he expertly finished a low cross.
The other conclusion is that Tyler Roberts must now be close to vying with Kemar Roofe to start up front after another excellent 45 minutes coming on top of a spirited half hour down at Southend just two days earlier. Roberts capped the display with a fine individual goal that showed he is not short of a goal scoring touch either. Ronnie Vieira was always in the game, looking strong but without ever causing me to think there is anyone currently in Bielsa’s 1st XI he could sensibly replace. Similarly with Mateusz Klich who looks polished (no pun intended) and yet somehow not quite good enough and always liable to misplace a crucial pass.
I’m quite enjoying seeing this group of players and it is fascinating to see them develop. We have to remember that, in the absence of any new faces arriving in the next ten days, the seven subs for the Stoke bench will need to come from this group. Who will they be? That’s the quiz for us all to ponder as that day draws closer.
Another game tomorrow at Guiseley and my feeling is we will see this group again, maybe minus Blackman, Baker and Roberts, leaving them and the rest of the first team to do battle with Las Palmas on Sunday as the final dress rehearsal for that game with the Potters. Anyone else missing tomorrow will also give a clue that they too will be busy for the next couple of Sundays! Maybe I’m wrong though and maybe Bielsa will confound me with a mixture of both squads. I still wish Bielsa would give us an insight to his thinking but in the absence of that we continue to try to second guess him!