EFL Championship Playoff Match Report: Derby County 0-1 Leeds United
Leeds United took a step closer to the finals of the EFL Championship Playoffs, as the Whites beat Derby County 1-0 at Pride Park in the first leg of the playoff semi-finals on Saturday, thanks to a solitary second-half strike from Kemar Roofe.
Marcelo Bielsa’ side came into the playoffs on the back of only a single win in their last five games in the Championship, while Derby were high on spirits after sealing the final playoff spot with a last ditch 3-1 victory over West Brom on the final day.
Earlier in the day, Aston Villa came back from a goal behind to beat West Brom 2-1 at home in the first leg of the other semi-final tie, with Baggies striker Dwight Gayle sent off late in the game after opening the scoring in the first half.
Leeds, though, had a couple of big injury concerns to contend with, as Pontus Jansson and Tyler Roberts were forced to watch the first leg from the sidelines. Bielsa drafted in Gaetano Berardi alongside Liam Cooper at the heart of the defence, while Adam Forshaw filled in a more advanced position in the midfield to cover for the injured duo.
Derby made a bright start to the game and managed to keep things under control in the first 10-15 minutes before Leeds eventually settled down and managed to dictate the play. David Nugent, who was preferred to Jack Marriott as the spearhead of the attack by manager Frank Lampard, had his shot blocked by Berardi.
It was Leeds, however, who had a big chance at the 12th-minute mark. Mateusz Klich showed some smart hold-up play down the left-hand side of the box and fed Stuart Dallas, who sent his right-footed effort sailing over the bar. The Whites had most of the play and dominated possession without creating too many clear-chances, although they did put the Rams defence under pressure with some corners.
However, the travelling Whites fans might have feared the worst when Adam Forshaw’s night came to a premature end due to an injury and Bielsa was forced to call upon youngster Jamie Shackleton as a replacement.
There wasn’t much to speak of in the first half, with both the teams playing out a rather cagey first forty-five minutes. The Whites dictated the play but they lacked the clinical edge in their attack, while Derby hardly offered anything going forward.
The second half began more or less on the same lines, with Leeds looking the likelier of the two teams to break the deadlock. Jack Harrison had his shot deflected behind off Rams right-back Jayden Bogle just after the interval.
The Rams tried to claw their way back into the game but just when it looked like they were starting to get into a good rhythm, Jack Harrison came up with the game-changing moment. The Man City loanee delivered an inch-perfect ball behind the backline from the left to set it up on a platter for Kemar Roofe, who put Leeds into the driver’s seat with the first shot on target from either side.
With time running out, Derby were under pressure to muster some kind of a meaningful reply, and Scott Malone almost created a golden opportunity for the Rams. the left-back’s whipped ball across the penalty area narrowly missed the run of Jayden Bogle, who failed to make a contact.
However, there was plenty of drama at the 77th-minute mark when referee Craig Pawson awarded Derby a penalty for Jack Harrison’s foul on Jayden Bogle inside the box, only for him to reverse his decision upon consultation with the assistant. Ecstasy turned into agony for the home fans at Pride Park, who would have hoped for their team to go into the second leg with an advantage.
Looking back at the penalty controversy, Harrison did catch Bogle when he attempted to clear the ball, while Bogle’s arm also went across Harrison’s back, which means it was a 50-50 decision. It could have finished 1-1 on another day but in the end, the 1-0 scoreline was a good reflection of how things shaped up over the ninety minutes.
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All is not lost for Derby, however, as the Rams are just behind by a one-goal margin heading into the second leg at Elland Road next week, though they would need to improve significantly after failing to register even a single shot on goal today.
Here’s how some of the joyous Leeds United fans reacted to the 1-0 victory
🌟Congratulations #leedsunited on getting the first leg advantage of the ⚽️ #playoffs final… the biggest prize in world #football #leedsleedsleeds @BBCLeeds @LeedsNews pic.twitter.com/WJj3vfsr9S
— Frank Jay (@thechillishop) May 11, 2019