Jesse Marsch oversaw his first Leeds United friendly of the season, facing Sky Bet Championship side Blackpool at the City of York Council’s LNER Stadium on a fine summer evening.
Marc Roca was the only new signing to start the match, taking his place at the heart of the midfield for his new side, accompanied by teenager Archie Gray alongside him.
Leeds dominated the early part of the match, and had the ball in the back of the net on four minutes when Joe Gelhardt tapped home a cross from the left. The Leeds frontman was, however, offside and the goal was ruled out.
The Whites continued to look dangerous and were quickly into an early lead. Following a quick free-kick, Jack Harrison teed up Junior Firpo who whipped the ball across the six-yard box, finding Robin Koch at the back post who powered home to open the scoring.
Blackpool were pushing to get themselves back in the game and managed to find their way in on goal with some good build-up play on 15 minutes. Rob Apter played a lovely cross deep from the right hand side into the back post, with Brad Holmes there, but the striker couldn't divert the ball towards goal.
The football was matching both the weather and the atmosphere, with plenty of early one-touch exchanges for Marsch’s side who were camped in the opposition half. Skipper Rodrigo tested Chris Maxwell in the Seasiders net, seeing his strike tipped wide for a corner.
From the corner, the Harrison and Firpo connection came good once again, with the winger finding his full-back at the front post to head home for a fully deserved second of the match.
The pressing and pressure was continuous and with the away side struggling to cope with the tempo, Leeds added a third. Gray saw an opportunity to put the ball back into the box from a clearance, Joe Gelhardt superbly controlled and laid it off for Rodrigo to smash into the roof of the net.
Blackpool did venture forward as the half went on and looked to get back into the match. Former United defender Luke Garbutt stung the palms of Iilan Meslier in the Leeds goal late on, whilst Sonny Carey and Josh Bowler looked lively, but Leeds took a three goal lead into the interval.
HALF TIME: Leeds United 3-0 Blackpool
Leif Davis, Kristoffer Klaesson, Amari Miller and Jeremiah Mullen all replaced Firpo, Koch, Meslier and Rodrigo for the second half. Tangerines boss Michael Appleton made nine changes at half-time, with just Jack Moore and Rob Apter staying on.
The second 45 minutes was a much quieter affair, with regular substitutions throughout, meaning chances were restricted to set-plays and long-range free-kicks. Sam Greenwood struck two efforts at goal following fouls, but neither troubled the Blackpool goal.
Leeds were still dictating the tempo of the second half, but were struggling to break down a completely different Blackpool backline, with Marvin Ekpiteta and Doug Tharme brought in at centre-half.
The rest of the Leeds bench then came onto the pitch as Cody Drameh, Gelhardt, Greenwood, Harrison, Roca and Pascal Struijk were replaced by Lewis Bate, Adam Forshaw, Mateo Joseph, Sean McGurk, Kris Moore and Jamie Shackleton.
Young defender Harvey Hughes came on to replace Rob Apter on 70 minutes to make his Blackpool bow at left-back.
Callum Connolly had a good effort go just wide of the far post ten minutes from time, whilst Shayne Lavery was played through with a wonderful pass from CJ Hamilton moments later, only for his effort to be saved
Second half substitute Klaesson was nearly tested as the match edged closer to a conclusion, when Callum Connolly’s low free-kick flew just past the keeper’s left post.
Coming even closer minutes later, Klaesson was forced to make an excellent stop when last season’s top scorer for the visitors, Shayne Lavery, raced through one on one, but saw his shot parried clear.
In the final five minutes, Marsch saw his side add a fourth, with another free-flowing move! Shackleton broke down the right wing and cut the ball back for Mateo Joseph, who calmly fired into the back of the net!
That goal was to be the last action of what had been an excellent friendly clash, with Leeds United running out comfortable four-goal winners and giving 22 players important minutes during pre-season.
Venue: City of York Council’s LNER Stadium
Leeds United 4 (Koch 10’, Firpo 22’, Rodrigo 30’, Joseph 85’)
Leeds: Meslier (GK) (Klaesson 45’), Firpo (Davies 45’), Koch (Mullen 45’), Roca (Bate 61’), Rodrigo (C) (Miller 45’), Struijk (Moore 61’), Harrison (Forshaw 61’), Gelhardt (Joseph 61’), Drameh (Shackleton 61), Greenwood (McGurk 61’), Gray (Allen 72’).
Blackpool first half XI: Maxwell (GK), Bowler, Dougall, Madine, Carey, Virtue, Keogh, Garbutt, Thorniley, Apter, Holmes.
Blackpool second half XI: Grimshaw (GK), Connolly, Dale, Anderson, Lavery, Ekpiteta, Hamilton, Lubala, Tharme, Moore, Hughes.