Leeds 3-0 Preston: United back on track
By PA Sport
Last Updated: 10/04/17 12:14pm
Kemar Roofe, Pablo Hernandez and Souleymane Doukara were all on target as Leeds beat Preston 3-0 to get their Sky Bet Championship play-off hopes back on track.
Roofe and Hernandez scored before the interval, while Doukara struck in stoppage time to make former boss Simon Grayson's play-off rivals Preston pay for two glaring early misses as Leeds bounced back from successive away defeats.
Leeds' top-six spot had looked less assured after losses at Reading and Brentford, while Preston had mounted a late challenge after one defeat in their previous 11 matches.
Preston almost caught Leeds cold in the second minute when full-back Marnick Vermijl was allowed too much time to pick out Tom Barkhuizen with his cross and the 10-goal striker's goalbound header was turned over the crossbar by the in-form Rob Green.
Leeds were rattled again in the 13th minute by Barkhuizen, who escaped from Kyle Bartley after racing clear on to Greg Cunningham's pass, only to shoot the wrong side of Green's left-hand post.
Preston were punished for those two let-offs in the 18th minute when Leeds took the lead with their first effort on goal. Roofe broke free inside the area courtesy of his clever one-two with Chris Wood and although his shot was partially blocked by Cunningham, the ball span fortuitously beyond Preston goalkeeper Chris Maxwell.
Preston pair Paul Gallagher and Aiden McGeady both fired off target before Leeds thought they had gone 2-0 ahead in the 41st minute.
The stadium announcer confirmed Chris Wood as the scorer after the Championship's leading scorer had turned the ball home from inside the area, but after a lengthy consultation with his assistant, who had not flagged, referee Peter Bankes ruled it out for offside.
Roofe went close doubling his tally following a fine move involving Hernandez and Alfonso Pedraza and Leeds struck again in the final minute of the first half. Hernandez won the chase on to Roofe's through-ball ahead of Preston keeper Maxwell and his sliding effort trickled over the goalline.
Leeds almost went 3-0 up early in the second period when Wood's shot following a corner hit the crossbar and Preston midfielder Ben Pearson cleared Kyle Bartley's header off the goalline.
Ronaldo Vieira's thunderbolt was well saved by Maxwell as Leeds chased a third goal, but Preston, who had previously lost only two league games this year, refused to lie down.
Former Leeds striker Jermaine Beckford, a second-half replacement for Paul Gallagher, forced Green into a low save with a low drive from the edge of the area and Preston went closer still soon after.
Green's brilliant save kept out McGeady's shot and after Barkhuizen's follow-up effort hit the crossbar, substitute Simon Makienok headed the rebound over.
The 31,851 Elland Road crowd were being treated to a cracker and Doukara spurned a golden chance for Leeds' game-clinching third goal in the 83rd minute. Doukara did manage to get his side's third goal deep into injury time, slotting it past Maxwell when put clean through.
Leeds boss Garry Monk:
"It was really important to respond and we were determined to after back-to-back defeats away from home and that was the key. We spoke to the group this week after Tuesday's game and just felt what is important is that when this group is focused on showing what they're capable of, that's when they deliver their best performances.
"In the games earlier in the week, there was a lot of talk going on about league positions and points and this would mean this and this would mean that and I get it, I understand. We're fully aware of where we are in the league, but the key is focusing and always showing what they're capable of."
Preston boss Simon Grayson:
"We started really well and had two great opportunities through Barkhuizen. But before you know it, we switch off and they got their noses in front. We weren't good enough defensively and that was the big aspect.
"We created some good chances. We had good possession and played some decent stuff, but it mistakes at key times cost us. If you do that against a strong team like Leeds they're going to punish you."
"I didn't see anything to be fair and the referee has given it for kicking out or something. But Baps says he hasn't done anything. If we don't think it warrants a red card we'll look into the situation."