On a wet and blustery night in West Yorkshire, Leeds rolled back the years with a fantastic performance and victory against Everton in the Third Round of the League Cup. After a nine year exile from the Premier League, Leeds remain something of a sleeping giant that is desperately craving a return to its former glory years.
Based on last night’s performance, a return to the promise land may not be too far away. Here we rate the Leeds players performances from last night’s match..
- Jamie Ashdown 7
First choice goalkeeper Paddy Kenny was rested by Neil Warnock, so Ashdown stepped in to fill his gloves. Looked assured when coming for crosses and controlled his box well. Strangely had very little to do against a subdued Everton but did what was required with comfort, especially taking into consideration the tricky conditions. Could do nothing about the goal and proves to Warnock that Leeds have a very able second choice goalkeeper.
- Tom Lees 7
A far more solid defender this season than last and gave a rally strong performance. Playing alongside the more experienced Pearce appears to be really developing his game. A number of brave challenges on the edge of the penalty area disrupted Everton’s flow and he closed down Everton’s front men well when required. The bandage wrapped around his head for the closing stages typified his warrior-like performance.
- Jason Pearce 8
With Lee Peltier out injured, Pearce was handed the captain’s armband for the evening and he certainly didn’t disappoint. A true captain’s performance full of grit and determination, even after requiring eight stitches above his eye due to a clash of heads in the first half. Formed a solid partnership with Tom Lees in the heart of the Leeds’ defence and not many Championship strikers will relish playing against these two centre backs if this form can be replicated more often.
- Sam Byram 7
Even Leeds fans hadn’t heard too much about Byram before this season began, but he is turning into one of the more positive aspects of Leeds season so far. After impressing against Championship opposition, Byram looked equally at ease against Premier League players. He was rarely troubled by Everton’s wingers and this display will be a good experience for him and should provide a confidence boost.
- Danny Pugh 7
Pugh had been placed on the transfer list earlier on this summer by Warnock, but this performance might make him think twice about what Danny Pugh has to offer Leeds. Considering this was his first appearance of the season he settled into the game very quickly and rarely looked in trouble from a defensive point of view. At the other end of the pitch, it was his shot that was deflected in by Austin for the crucial second goal.
- Michael Brown 7
Like Danny Pugh, Brown too has found first team opportunities at a premium this season but also slotted in to the side with minimal disruption. Brown broke the play up well with a string of tough tackles, one which earned him a customary booking. He played the defensive midfield role to perfection, and allowed the likes of Tonge and Austin to move further up the pitch.
- Rodolph Austin 9
Leeds’ man of the match for me. Austin may have only signed in the summer, but he has quickly earned the reputation of being a fans favourite, and last night proved exactly why. He completely dominated the Everton midfield from start to finish, including getting the better of inform Fellaini. Tough but fair tackling disrupted Everton’s momentum and he looked dangerous going forward. Had a little fortune with his goal but it was nothing less than his outstanding performance deserved.
- Michael Tonge 7
Tonge arrived on loan at Elland Road from Stoke a fortnight ago, and his performance last night was easily the best he has given in a Leeds shirt so far. Calm in possession and used his experience to slow the game down late on. Could have maybe got on the ball a little more but still appears to be a shrewd loan signing by Warnock.
- Aidy White 8
Not that you would have guessed it from his calmly taken goal last night, but that was actually his first goal for Leeds. Warnock said upon his arrival that he wanted White to score more, so this could be the breakthough he badly needed. His early goal got Leeds off to the perfect start, and what a goal it was. His pace caused Everton trouble all evening, and he linked up well with Bryam down the left hand side. Leeds biggest threat going forward on the night.
- El Hadji Diouf 9
Diouf is a player who divides opinion and is usually loathed by the opposition, but no one could argue with his input last night. He knew just when to speed the game up and just when to slow it down and his control and usage of possession was of the highest quality. Not many Leeds fans were overjoyed to see Diouf in the white shirt at first, but a string of impressive performances have seen the Elland Road crowd slowly being won over.
- Luciano Becchio 7
A strangely subdued night from Leeds leading goal scorer, but this can be put down to a slight groin injury he picked up in Saturday’s win over Nottingham Forest. His effort, as ever, couldn’t be questioned and his strength in the air caused the Everton defence numerous problems.
Probably should have doubled Leeds advantage on the stroke of half time, but his close range header was put straight at Mucha in the Everton goal. He is a nuisance to any defence and is certainly one of Leeds’ greatest assets.