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Leeds Utd U23s 2 Burnley U23s 2

Dwight McNeil sparks fightback as Clarets hit back to deny league leaders

12 October 2018

Dwight McNeil marked his return from international duty with the goal that set up a brilliant Burnley fightback at Elland Road.

Professional Development League leaders Leeds - who included eight players who have figured at first-team level this season - looked to be cruising to another win when Kemar Roofe put them 2-0 up after an hour at Elland Road.

But McNeil, who had spent the early part of the week training with the England Under-20 squad for the first time, sparked a comeback with a classy strike.

And captain Olly Younger then struck with a thumping header to make amends for an unfortunate first-half own-goal as the Clarets bounced back from their Premier League Cup mauling at Bournemouth last weekend to secure a first point on the road this season.

Given the strength of their starting line-up Leeds not surprisingly dominated possession early on, but it still took them nearly half an hour to force a break-through.

Adam Forshaw had curled a shot just over the bar and on-loan Chelsea midfielder Lewis Baker nodded wide from United’s best two openings before they enjoyed a slice of luck to go in front.

Gaetano Beradi met Baker’s in-swinging corner with a glancing header into the six-yard box.

But it still needed a deflection off the unfortunate Younger to take the ball over the line.

The Clarets responded well to going behind and created their first chance thanks to an excellent counter-attack launched by Tundi Bayode.

The winger combined well with Tinashe Chakwana but Chakwana couldn’t supply the finish as Jamal Blackman easily saved his scuffed effort.

Leeds almost doubled the lead through Baker, but from Roofe’s pull-back he saw an effort well saved by the legs of Adam Bruce before Anthony Glennon, starting at centre-back for the first time, blocked his follow-up attempt.

And a minute before the break the Clarets had the chance to level, only for Dan Agyei to slice his effort wide from a decent sight of goal.

Bayode’s pace again caused Leeds just after the re-start as he intercepted Blackman’s attempted pass but again Chakwana couldn’t convert.

When the two linked up once more with 55 minutes gone, Bayode playing a delightful through-ball, Chakwana did everything but score with a crisp strike that forced Blackman – another Chelsea loanee – into a fine save.

And that proved crucial as Leeds went 2-0 up from their next attack as Roofe added to the four Championship goals he has scored this season by clinically sweeping a low cross from Jamie Shackleton beyond Bruce and into the bottom corner of the net.

Ali Koiki replied with a long-range effort which flew just wide on his return from a three-match ban before Leeds almost added a third with a Baker free-kick which Bruce parried away low down to his right.

But with just over 20 minutes to go the Clarets got themselves back into the game with an excellent goal.

Quick thinking from Mace Goodridge saw the midfielder release McNeil with a free-kick after Josh Benson, starting his first game of the season following injury, had been fouled.

McNeil still had plenty to do but after opting to go it alone, cut in to devastating affect to rifle a left-foot shot past Blackman to make it 2-1.

Another fine block from Bruce to deny Leeds striker Sam Dalby kept the margin at one goal and then a second goal in five minutes got the Clarets level as their second-half efforts paid off.

McNeil this time earned a corner and from Benson’s fine delivery, Younger connected with a thumping header to find the back of the same net for the second time and reward Jon Pepper’s side for passing a major test of character.

Leeds United: Blackman, Shackleton, Diaz, Struijk, Davis (Nicell 62), Beradi, Roofe (Stevens 70), Forshaw, Dalby (Gotts 86), Baker, Clarke. Substitutes: Miazek, McCalmont.

Burnley: Bruce, Cropper, Younger, Glennon, Koiki, Bayode, Howarth, Goodridge, McNeil, Agyei (Benson 60), Chakwana (Harker 78). Substitutes: McMahon, Cooke, Blair.

Referee: Michael Barlow

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