Leeds United ended their pre-season campaign with a 3-2 victory over Premier League side Newcastle United at Elland Road. 

The Whites took an early lead after a Robert Snodgrass free-kick was spilled by Newcastle United goalkeeper Frazer Forster allowing Patrick Kisnorbo an easy tap-in.

Leeds kept up the pressure and dominated much of the first half but The Magpies got back on level terms when Steven Taylor was left unmarked to head home from a corner kick.

By half-time, Leeds United had undoubtedly been the better team. The Whites were creating plenty of chances going forward whilst the defensive partnership of Andy O’Brien and Patrick Kisnorbo was looking much stronger than anything we saw last season.

That partnership however was broken up for the second half with Leigh Bromby coming on for Andy O’Brien who is no doubt some way from match fitness following his recent injury.

Other substitutes followed throughout the second half as Simon Grayson started to break-up what is likely to be his opening day line-up.

And it was one of those substitutes that would restore Leeds United’s lead. Lloyd Sam somehow managed to win the ball on the by-line before slotting home from an incredibly tight angle to make it 2-1 and give Newcastle United fans more reason to worry about their defence.

The lead was short-lived however as a good move from Newcastle United finished with a powerful strike from Haris Vuckic who left Leeds’ new keeper Andy Lonergan with no chance.

But Leeds United weren’t done yet, and it was another second half substitute, Billy Paynter who would seal victory for the Whites and bring his Leeds United goal drought to an end. The relief was almost palpable as Billy celebrated a rare goal.


Overall, this was a very encouraging display from Leeds. The Geordies will be furious with the defending on display, but to put Leeds United’s victory down to Newcastle’s incompetence would be unfair on the players who, to a man, performed very well.

The squad looked sharp and eager throughout the game. Recent injury concerns Robert Snodgrass and Andy O’Brien both looked in good shape to start the new season whilst the returning Patrick Kisnorbo has transformed the defence completely.

Jonny Howson put in an excellent shift and clearly enjoys the attacking freedom he’s afforded with Michael Brown and Adam Clayton alongside him in central midfield.

Despite conceding two goals, I also think Andy Lonergan will improve our defensive fortunes. He showed he had the shot-stopping ability on a couple of occasions, but more importantly for me was that he just appeared calmer and more in control than Kasper Schmeichel ever was.

What was particularly encouraging was seeing the cover available to us. Lloyd Sam put in a tireless display when he came on and constantly looked a threat, whilst Ramon Nunez and Alex Mendy both look like capable squad players with the ability to change a game.

Up front remains a bit of a concern despite Billy Paynter’s late winner and a positive display from Ross McCormack. The big question mark for me personally, is whether McCormack can play the lone striker role – he displays excellent movement and does find the space you’d expect from a seasoned pro like Ross, but I’m convinced he’d be better with a target man alongside him.

Leeds United 3 2 Newcastle United
Patrick Kisnorbo (5) Taylor (35)
Lloyd Sam (67) Vuckic (76)
Billy Paynter (85)
Elland Road (Att. 20,457)
Pre-season friendly, July 31st 2011