McCormack bags hat trick at Elland Road
An inspired performance from the Championship’s leading goalscorer Ross McCormack condemned Town to their fourth straight defeat.
The Scottish marksman bagged a hat trick at Elland Road to help his side avenge the 3-2 defeat at the John Smith’s Stadium in October.
Danny Ward had given Town the perfect start and for much of the first half Town were on top. However, a poor piece of defending on the stroke of half time allowed McCormack to grab his first and from then on Leeds didn’t look back.
Jimmy Kebe grabbed the second and Alex Mowatt the last as Leeds extended the gap between the sides.
Town, aiming for a double over their West Yorkshire rivals, named the same starting eleven that lost at Bournemouth in midweek.
The only change to the 18 was the introduction of Martin Paterson to the bench; meaning that James Vaughan, Jonathan Hogg and Joel Lynch again missed out.
Leeds possessed the Championship’s leading goalscorer in Ross McCormack and he kicked started a move in the fourth minute that created the game’s first opening. The striker’s flick allowed Jimmy Kebe and Rudy Austin to switch the play to Cameron Stewart, whose shot curled wide of Alex Smithies’ goal.
At the other end, Sam Byram was at full stretch to deny Danny Ward as he went to pull the trigger before Nahki Wells dragged wide in the second phase of the move.
Town’s pressure continued to build and as the half passed the midway point they looked the more likely to go ahead.
Oliver Norwood gave the home crowd a scare when his 25 yard shot rebounded off the post and had it not been for the athleticism of Byram, Oscar Gobern would have tapped into an empty net a minute later.
The breakthrough eventually came in the 25th minute though, when Ward collected Woods’ diagonal ball and drove low, across Paddy Kenny from 12 yards.
It could have been two just after the half hour mark when Murray Wallace attempted an overhead kick, but Kenny was equal to it for United, blocking with his legs.
The final few minutes of the half could have seen Town go in at the interval two goals to the good, instead it was Leeds who equalised.
Wells had a great chance to score his third in Town colours – racing onto Tommy Smith’s through ball – but he was unable to direct his effort on target despite beating Kenny.
McCormack missed a similar chance on his left from Kenny’s dead ball, but that wasn’t the end of the action. Town failed to deal with Sam Byram’s direct ball into the box and McCormack punished them, prodding home his 19th of the season from less than six yards.
Leeds had the edge at the start of the second half and made their dominance count on the scoreboard with a second goal.
McCormack was again at the heart of it, back heeling the ball to the onrushing Kebe who flicked the ball over Anthony Gerrard and then Smithies in stylish fashion.
Leeds’ killer instinct in front of goal was something Town were lacking. Both Wells and Ward passed up good chances within minutes of one another at the other end, as the Terriers tried to hit back.
Town’s attempts at drawing level suffered a huge blow just after the hour mark though, when Leeds made it three.
McCormack again provided the finish after Byram had raced the full length of the field in support of the marauding Austin to provide the assist for the Scotsman.
Austin drew Smithies into a full length save four minutes later before Leeds wrapped things up in the 73rd minute – and again it was McCormack with the finish.
Stewart showed substitute Joe Lolley a clean set of heels down the left and crossed to the far post to McCormack who finished via the inside of the far post.
Leeds continued to heap the misery on Town and added a fifth eight minutes from time when Gerrard and Smithies collided with one another, allowing Alex Mowatt to chip home from 20 yards.
Town’s team (3-5-2):
Alex Smithies (c); Murray Wallace, Anthony Gerrard, Tommy Smith; Paul Dixon (Joe Lolley, 69), Oscar Gobern (Sean Scannell, 61), Oliver Norwood, Adam Clayton, Calum Woods; Nahki Wells (Martin Paterson, 75), Danny Ward
Ian Bennett, Peter Clarke, Keith Southern, Duane Holmes
Bookings Leeds: Sam Byram 44, Rudy Austin 79
Bookings Town: Murray Wallace 89