As the dust settles and attention turns to Wednesday’s Play-Off Second Leg at Elland Road, we reflect on just who excelled in yesterday’s 0-1 away win at Pride Park. Obviously, Kemar Roofe scored the goal that has given Leeds the advantage but the team display was thoroughly excellent. Leeds secured their first win in five games, which hopefully provides a much needed confidence boost to get the job done on Wednesday night and against whoever they may come to face in the final.
Jack Harrison has come in for a lot of flack recently, notably people held criticisms over his crossing and the general threat he poses from a wide position. Yesterday his game held much more flair. Not just the ball he sent in for Roofe to poke home, but the variety in his play and his work-rate.
After a couple of nervy decisions in the past few games, I was impressed with the level-headedness of Kiko’s performance yesterday. The confidence to make the claims that he did as Derby sent some hopeful searches high into the box was outstanding. Compliments must be shared across the whole defence too, though, as Kiko was not required to make a save. One particular incident featuring Liam Cooper making 3 blocks on goal in a row, was superb.
Credit must be given to Jamie Shackleton. Whilst he has thoroughly excelled with the title winning U23s, his first-team minutes have been few and far between despite being a regular feature on the bench. Shackleton’s showing, after being chucked in at the deep end on 12 minutes for the injured Adam Forshaw, displayed both his maturity and capability to perform at this level. Both his decision making and bursts of speed in the box are something that has been perhaps lacking from the Leeds midfield in the latter stages of this season. Shack could have picked up a goal himself but was denied by a good save in the second half. The 19 year old made a strong case to be included once more in the second leg on Wednesday- and I wouldn’t be at all surprised if Bielsa rewarded him with a starting place.