United tonight bowed out of the Capital One Cup at the second round stage, beaten 3-0 by an accomplished looking Leeds United side.
The U’s were forced into changes with Lee Cox and Deane Smalley both ruled out through injury, meaning Tony Capaldi stepping into midfield with the recalled Simon Heslop and the influential Adam Chapman while Sean McGinty made his debut at left back. James Constable also returned to the starting XI at the expense of Tom Craddock who joined new signing Daniel Boateng on the bench.
There was almost an early goal as Alfie Potter’s way to goal in the third minute was blocked at the last minute by a desperate block, and a deflected effort from Sean Rigg after nine minutes signalled that the U’s were here to claim another scalp in the competition they excel in. Their hosts made six changes to the side that won at Peterborough on Saturday but could still call on experienced Premier League players like Michael Brown and El’Hadji Diouf and the first twenty minutes or so were pretty even.
Leeds were the side to make the breakthrough though and it came on 26 minutes with a fine strike. Aidan White made the goal with a powerful run forward on the left and when the ball travelled across the edge of the box Rodolph Austin seized on it and lashed a tremendous low drive past Clarke from 20 yard with great power and accuracy. A very good goal from a very good player.
The Yellows were still in the game and still playing some nice football on the attack, but on 34 minutes were left with a mountain to climb as Byram stormed through a challenge from Jake Wright, no easy task in itself, then chipped the ball beautifully beyond the onrushing Clarke for another annoyingly good goal.
A magnificent save from Clarke on 39, sticking out a big right hand to stop a shot from ten yards out, kept out Diouf and kept it respectable but further forward the U’s were struggling for space in midfield and seeing their attacks run aground on a solid looking Leeds back four.
It might have become worse on 48 as a possible penalty was waved away after Clarke had parried a header from a corner away, but United were hanging in there and could have found a way back into the game on 50 minutes as Constable span cleverly and tested home keeper Jamie Ashdown with a well struck shot from the left of the goal.
Leeds were the dominant force through and young Austin was outstanding in midfield, winning challenges and passing simply, then rasping a shot against the bar as his side searched for a third goal. A third goal always looked likely and on 74 a right wing cross did the trick and allowed Tom Lees to head past Clarke and put Leeds into the next round.
With the game over it was time to give youngster Ty Marsh a first taste of football at this level, coming on with JP Pittman with 10 minutes to go, and his first action was a very positive run into the Leeds box which will encourage him for future matches.
Tonight through United were well beaten. No shame in defeat and United will regroup and try to maintain their 100percent league record as they return to Yorkshire on Saturday to face York City.
Clarke, Batt, Raynes, Wright, McGinty, Capaldi, Chapman (Boateng 87), Heslop, Potter (Marsh 80), Constable, Rigg (Pittman 80)
Craddock, Brown, Evans, Lynn
Report by Chris Williams