REPORT: TOWN 2-1 LEEDS UTDA dramatic, late winner from Michael Hefele sealed a superb 2-1 West Yorkshire derby win over Leeds United at the John Smith’s Stadium as the Terriers continued their great start to 2017.
The German was in the right place at the right time to net his fourth goal for the Club – his first at the John Smith’s Stadium – to seal another important three points, with Izzy Brown’s earlier strike being cancelled out by Chris Wood.
In front of the biggest ever league gate for a Town game at the Stadium, the Terriers deserved their victory due to an impressive and relentless second half display.
Leeds started the game well, with Chris Wood testing Danny Ward with a low drive from a very narrow angle inside four minutes.
United’s aerial prowess looked a danger due to the height of Jansson, Bartley and Wood, but the Terriers dealt well as the visitors forced a succession of corners.
Town grew into the game, with the first big chance coming in the 21st minute. Collin Quaner, making his first start in the Sky Bet Championship, made a good run to get onto Kasey Palmer’s pass into the penalty area. He struck his shot well with his favoured left foot, but the effort was too close to goalkeeper Rob Green.
Quaner was at it again minutes later, charging down Jansson as the big defender tried a square pass. The deflected ball looped over goalkeeper Green, but landed on the top of the net.
However, the Terriers weren’t to be denied and took the lead in the 27th minute.
A mistake from left back Gaetano Berardi gave Elias Kachunga the chance to sprint down the right flank with the ball. Jansson came across to make a sliding tackle, but Tommy Smith reacted to beat the Swede to the second ball and fire an excellent cross into the danger area.
Izzy Brown – just on for the injured Kasey Palmer – had intelligently taken the space vacated by Jansson and directed the cross beyond green and into the roof of the net from close range for his third goal in just six Town appearances.
Town hunted in packs well off the ball at this point, with Jonathan Hogg in supreme form in the midfield engine room, but Leeds found a way back into the game with a set piece goal in the 35th minute.
Brown conceded a free kick to the left side of Town’s penalty area. Pablo Hernandez stepped up and although his first cross was cleared, Hernandez returned the ball into the box and it fell to Chris Wood, who rounded the goalkeeper before tapping into the empty net.
Just like the Brighton game in midweek, the setback didn’t deter Town. Mooy picked out Kachunga at the back post soon after, only for Berardi to execute a brilliant sliding block. Soon after Brown recycled a half-cleared corner into Quaner’s path, but Green was quickly from his line to smother the shot at source.
The resulting corner led to another big opportunity as Jansson got underneath Mooy’s delivery and left Hefele unmarked, but the defender planted his firm header mere inches wide of the far post.
Town improved in the second half, taking control of the game. Bartley miscued a clearance dangerously over his own crossbar five minutes in to set the tone and Town soon created a good chance, with Mooy shooting wide after a one-two with Smith created space for a shot 25 yards out.
Rajiv van La Parra was inches away from converting an excellent Kachunga cross at full stretch just after the hour mark.
Quaner had a huge chance barely two minutes later, controlling a Brown cross expertly on his chest when completely unmarked just six yards out – but he miscued his attempted volley completely.
That gave Leeds the chance to break and create a good chance. With new signing Pedraza dribbling at goal, Christopher Schindler did a superb job of organizing a makeshift defence to cut out the possible passes and Pedraza opted to shoot; Ward pushing the ball away diving to his right.
Mooy tested Green with a fierce low drive as the minutes ticked away before substitute Joe Lolley curled over the crossbar.
It looked like Town’s big chance came with nine minutes left thanks to some excellent work from Schindler. The central defender picked up a half-cleared corner and skipped cleverly past Ayling before sending an inch-perfect cross into the box, with Kachunga only succeeding in diverting the ball wide of the far post.
However, the goal did eventually come in the final seconds of normal time. Town had been pressing again and when the ball dropped to Mooy on the edge of the box, he uncharacteristically dragged it wide. Fortunately, the ball hit a defender and rolled to the back post, where Hefele had stayed forward to pounce and divert the ball past the helpless Green at close range.
David Wagner ran on the pitch to celebrate with his players, with Garry Monk taking exception as he returned to the technical area; scenes ensued between both squads afterwards.
Once calm was restored, Wagner’s side comfortably saw out the final few minutes of added time to secure the three points.
Town’s team vs Leeds United (4-2-3-1):
Danny Ward; Chris Löwe, Christopher Schindler, Michael Hefele, Tommy Smith; Aaron Mooy, Jonathan Hogg; Rajiv van La Parra (Joe Lolley, 65’), Kasey Palmer (Isaiah Brown, 25’), Elias Kachunga; Collin Quaner (Nahki Wells, 66’)
Joel Coleman, Dean Whitehead, Mark Hudson, Martin Cranie
Elias Kachunga (90)