After a week that has seen Leeds beaten 4-1 by Watford, dumped out the cup by Bradford, 3 players sent off and head coach David Hockaday getting his marching orders, Leeds headed into Saturday’s game desperate for a victory. Neil Redfearn was the given the responsibility of looking after the first team and things seemed fresh right from 2 o’clock when his starting XI was named, Redders handed a first league start of the season to highly rated Lewis Cook, alex Mowatt was also back and Casper Sloth came in for his debut after signing for the club last week.
The team immediately felt like a different one as the game began, it was very strange to see a Leeds United team passing the ball around and looking to make things happen. Bolton, however, nearly took the lead when Joe Mason latched onto a through ball but Marco Silvestri tipped his powerful drive on the cross bar. Soon after, former Bolton loanee Stephen Warnock delivered a cross-come-shot which nestled in the bottom corner to give Leeds a lead. The first half was definitely the most impressed I have been with a Leeds team for a very long time. A special mention has to be made for Lewis Cook, every now again you get someone who comes through the academy who you just know is gonna develop into a quality player, and he showed some real maturity yesterday and I’m excited to see what he can do this season.
Second half began, Bolton immediately went to press and to force an equaliser, with Craig Davies finding the first effort of the half but failed to find the target. United were forced into making their first change when Stephen Warnock was struck on the ankle when preventing a corner, the change saw Charlie Taylor coming on in a like for like change. Bolton came forward again but once again, and a trend to continue, Silvestri was there to thwart Spearing as his drive from distance and the denying Mason from the rebound. Leeds did mange to open up a chance a few minutes after when the impressive Cook’s pinpoint seeking pass created space for Billy Sharp but the strikers heavy touch sent the ball through Adam Bogdan.
Bolton were really pressing forward but everything they managed to throw at Leeds then Silvestri was there to stand firm and frustrate the Trotters. Leeds, however, looked dangerous on the break, An incisive passing move saw Bianchi’s low cross just miss all the players stood int he box and another break away a few minutes after found the ball fall to Mirko Antenuci who cut inside but couldn’t quite generate enough curl to find the top corner. Casper Sloth was then replaced by Zen Benedecic and Jermaine Beckford came on for Bolton, and he received a terrific reception from the Leeds fans.
As the game headed into the final ten minutes, you could feel it was gonna be tense finale as Bolton continued to throw the proverbial kitchen sink at Leeds, however, whatever they could throw, Silvestri was there to stand tall and deny them. As stoppage time began, the best chance for Bolton, somewhat typically, was about to fall to Beckford who had a free header in the area, which again, Silvestri was there to deny the former Leeds striker and perform a miraculous double save and smother the ball to deny Bolton. Bolton sent the ‘keeper up for the last set piece, but a poor delivery was headed clear by the impressive Bellusci and Cook was on hand to clear the ball up field as the whistle was sounded and United picked up their second win of the season. The scenes after the match echoed how important it was, with Silvestri celebrating with the fans and rightly so being clapped off to a standing ovation.
Onto Birmingham away next, much could chance between now and then after the international break, a new coach and new players are probably likely between now and then.
United: Silvestri 9, Wootton 7, Bellusci 8, Pearce 7, Warnock 7, Cook 8, Bianchi 7, Mowatt 7, Sloth 7, Sharp 7, Antenuci 7.
Subs: Benedecic 6, Taylor 7.
Man of the match: Marco Silvestri, simply amazing, won us the game.