Goals from Luke Ayling and Patrick Bamford secured Leeds United a 2-0 victory in this afternoon’s West Yorkshire Derby with Huddersfield Town, further strengthening their grip on automatic promotion.
Leeds made the perfect start as Ayling volleyed them into a third minute lead, with Bamford wrapping up the points shortly after half-time.
The result means Marcelo Bielsa’s side now sit top of the Championship table and seven points clear of third placed Fulham with nine games to play, whilst Danny Cowley’s Terriers are 18th and still under the threat of relegation.
Despite fighting different battles in the Championship, both these sides entered today on the back of emphatic 4-0 victories last weekend, but it was Leeds brimming with the sort of confidence a promotion push can often bring from the first whistle.
And, after only three minutes they had a breakthrough from the same source that got them on their way in Hull last weekend. Cowley’s right side offered Jack Harrison time and space, with the winger’s deep cross met by Ayling, who crashed a volley off Jonas Lossl’s crossbar to give Bielsa’s side the perfect start.
The goal gave this West Yorkshire Derby the fast start it needed and it continued at a frantic pace; Richard Stearman and Ayling exchanged bookings, whilst the Cowley brothers were as animated as ever.
Trevoh Chalobah forced Illan Meslier into a save shortly after 20 minutes following a neat interchange with Fraizer Campbell, with a fizzing strike almost forcing its way through the young Frenchman’s legs.
By now, the Terriers were growing into the game and carrying a threat on the break, with Chris Willock’s shot forcing a good block from Stuart Dallas.
Huddersfield’s need to get back into the game opened up space for Leeds, though, with Bamford close to rounding off an impressive break involving Harrison and Helder Costa.
Harrison then went close to volleying home Leeds’ second after Ayling returned the favour with a deep cross to the left of Huddersfield’s box; the winger’s attempt beyond Lossl’s far post.
Ben White then flicked a free-kick beyond Lossl’s post, whilst Bielsa was seen calling for calm and Leeds to gain more control than they’d had since Ayling’s opener.
You’d imagine that was the half-time message, but Leeds were out of the traps fast in the second-half; Harrison and Bamford both forcing saves out of Lossl.
However, this was a big turning of the screw from Bielsa’s side, who had a second just six minutes after half-time.
Hernandez’s free-kick was met by a looping White header, and although Lossl stretched to keep that effort out, he could not deny Bamford his first goal in over a month, with the striker finishing from close range.
Leeds smelt blood and were back for more before the hour as Harrison’s jinking run resulted in him curling the ball off the woodwork, with Huddersfield’s defence scrambling well to deny Hernandez on the rebound.
In response, Lewis O’Brien sliced a shot wide after good work from Smith Rowe, who then forced Meslier into an awkward save with another effort from the edge of the area.
Cowley turned to fresh legs off his bench as he looked to spark his attack into life, but the likes of Juninho Bacuna and Steve Mounie struggled to stamp their authority on the game; animation in the dugout turned to frustration.
However, no such frustrations for Leeds United: Derby Day delight and fully in control of the promotion race.
Full-time: Leeds United 2-0 Huddersfield Town.