Premier League 2
Leeds United 4 (Gelhardt 23’, 50', Dean 41’, Allen 61’)
Blackburn Rovers 4 (Burns 29’, 34’, Harlock 69’, Brennan 90’
Mark Jackson’s Under-23s side were back in Premier League 2 action on Friday evening, taking on Blackburn Rovers under the lights at York City’s LNER Community Stadium.
A clash that swung either way with both teams going ahead at different stages, saw eight goals shared between the two teams.
The match began with both teams looking to figure one another out and not much goal-action. Both Kristoffer Klaesson and Jordan Eastham had one effort each to deal with early on, and did so.
That was until just after the 20 minute mark. Fresh from his first team debut and two stunning goals away at Liverpool for the Under 23s, Joe Gelhardt added another to his already impressive showreel.
Breaking forward from defence, Cody Drameh played the ball to Gelhardt when on the wing. He took a touch, looked up and decided to cut inside. After beating three and progressing into the box, the forward then curled home left-footed to put the Whites ahead.
Rovers hit back instantly though. The quick thinking Eastham saw an opportunity to launch a goal-kick over the top to Sam Burns, who showed pace and composure to control and finish well, evening things up.
A couple of minutes later, Blackburn and Burns were at it again. Rovers’ top-scorer this time took a touch in the box, before placing an effort beyond Klaesson into the far corner.
Before half-time, Jackson’s side levelled in what had been a frantic end to the first 45. This time it was a superb free-flowing team move which saw Max Dean fire home at close range from Amari Miller’s pinpoint cross.
HALF TIME: Leeds United 2-2 Blackburn Rovers
The Whites came out in the second half and continued to impress in front of goal. Just five minutes in, Gelhardt had his second, as he outmuscled the Rovers defence before jinking into the box and firing between the ‘keepers legs to put his side back ahead on the night.
That was to be the last action for the striker who was then replaced, to a standing ovation from the fans watching on in York.
The goalscoring would then continue. Klaesson released Miller at pace down the wing, who in turn played the ball inside for Lewis Bate. The central-midfielder looked up and found Sam Greenwood who produced a perfect cross allowing Charlie Allen to head home and make it four!
Blackburn weren’t downhearted though and got straight back into the match. Pressing forward, the ball found Jared Harlock on the edge of the box and his finish gave Klaesson no chance to reduce the deficit to one.
The match entered the final 15 minutes with all three substitutions having been made on each side and both teams continuing to look for more goals. With five minutes to go Leeds were reduced to 10 players when Miller was shown a second yellow card.
Six minutes of added time where shown by the fourth official and that allowed Rovers one last chance, from a set-play. Sam Durrant’s free-kick was on target and Klaesson saved, but he couldn’t hold and from the rebound, fellow substitute Luke Brennan turned home to get his side a point.
An entertaining but ultimately frustrating night ended in a draw.
FULL TIME: Leeds United 4-4 Blackburn Rovers
Leeds: Klaesson (GK), Drameh (Hjelde 45’), Struijk (McCarron 45’), Bate, Moore, Kenneh, Dean, Greenwood, Gelhardt (McKinstry 56’), Allen, Miller. Subs not used: Van Den Heuvel (GK), McGurk.
Rovers: Eastham (GK), Ferguson, Cirino, Phillips, Annesley, Johnson (Nolan 75’), Harlock, Garrett, Burns, Wharton (57’), McBride (Brennan 76’). Subs not used: Durrant, Pratt.
Venue: LNER Community Stadium, York
Referee: G. Rhodes
Booked: Miller, Greenwood, Klaesson, Kenneh, Dean (Leeds) Garrett, Johnson, Annesley, Phillips (Rovers)
Sent-off: Miller (Leeds)