Leeds United 2-0 Derby County Player Ratings: Clarke stars

Roofe and Alioski celebrate – bbc.co.uk

The morality of Marcelo Bielsa’s decision to instruct a spying session on Derby County’s training ground can be debated, but not the quality of his Leeds United title-contenders, which goals from Kemar Roofe and Jack Harrison re-emphasized in a 2-0 win over the Rams. Here’s our Player Ratings from the game.

Leeds United

Bailey Peacock-Farrell – the academy graduate has adjusted to Championship football very well, considering he was playing non-league football with York as recently as 2017. However, recent performances represent a slight wobble and despite his clean sheet here, he only faced two shots on target and one or two of his decisions looked questionable. 5

Luke Ayling – the right-back has had difficulty with injuries at times this season, but when fit he is a real asset. Ayling offers the composure in possession and accuracy of forward passing that aids Leeds’ build-up play, as well as positional awareness, which he showed to produce a strong block from Mason Mount late in the first half, picking up another brief knock in the process. 7
Pontus Jansson – the Swede, who was picked ahead of Victor Lindelöf at the World Cup, is known for his assured defending, his shrewd positioning, ability on the ball and well-calculated headers. While he certainly displayed those qualities here, there also appeared to be an extra layer of aggression to his display and the fact he was on the floor at full-time shows the physical and emotional energy he put into this game. 8
Liam Cooper – often more aggressive than Jansson if not quite as technically accomplished, Cooper showed his battling qualities once again here, putting in six tackles. He was strong in the air too, one of his headers being a bouncing eighth-minute effort at goal, from which he was unlucky not to score. 8
Ezgjan Alioski – the Macedonian is used to playing as a winger but, because he has always been an industrious wide man who likes to hold the width – and Leeds full-backs tend to get forward – his new role at left-back in Barry Douglas’ absence has not overawed him. His eagerness to get forward is encapsulated by the fact he should have won a penalty after only 32 seconds and, by getting to the back-post early in the second half, set up Harrison’s goal. 9

Adam Forshaw – the former Middlesbrough midfielder is crucial to Leeds, at least until Kalvin Phillips returns for the Rotherham game. He kept a lid on the midfield in the first half, seeing one long-range effort fly just wide of the far post; his passing in the second period was wonderfully crisp and precise, which set the tempo for a controlled team display. 8
Mateusz Klich – the Pole loves to make third-man runs in the final third, which was key to stretching Derby defensively. Klich’s forays left Leeds vulnerable to transitions in the latter stages of the first half, but various tactical shuffles early in the second meant he could make his runs with plenty of freedom and he linked play very nicely. 7

Jack Harrison – the winger has not quite endeared himself to the Elland Road faithful since joining on loan from Manchester City, but he produced a positive display here. Although he normally likes to cut inside, he held the width reasonably well here and while some crosses didn’t necessarily reach the intended target, they were put in with the required pace to force corners. A first goal since September will help his confidence, even if he only needed to bundle the ball hope to get it. 7
Pablo Hernandez – there were doubts about the Spaniard’s fitness coming into this game, so the fact he produced such a sparkling performance is all the more impressive. Hernandez conducted play on the edge of the final third superbly in that first half hour then, at times in the second half, he dropped slightly deeper to share the defensive workload with Klich. His pin-point deliveries from set plays are a massive plus. 9
Jack Clarke – a star is born! The 18-year-old had looked bright every time he has come off the bench this season and deserved his start, in which he proved more than worthy of more. As well as the raw energy which has always been apparent about Clarke, he showed quick feet, poise and the intelligence to feed others, as we saw in his excellent assist for Roofe and the second half cross that led to Harrison’s goal. Looked even more impressive when he had a direct runner overlapping him, as we saw briefly when Shackleton came on. 9

Kemar Roofe – the forward pressed with relentless tenacity and did not give opposing centre-backs one moment’s peace, holding the ball up for others in wide areas. Deserved his goal, even if it was a simple finish and might wish he could have made contact with Clarke’s second half cross that offered him a presentable chance for a brace. 8

Jamie Shackleton (on 63) – the academy graduate did not influence the game so much technically, but more through his speed of movement off the ball. Shackleton made penetrating runs that dragged markers away from Clarke, enabling him to cut inside and cause havoc. 6
Leif Davis  (on 79) – the youngster did appear to have an opportunity to potentially establish himself as a regular with Barry Douglas injured, but Alioski’s performance means he might now have to wait his turn. He is only 18 though and will benefit from working so closely with the first team squad. 5

Derby County

Scott Carson – the experienced goalkeeper was not the main culprit for either goal but, perhaps surprisingly considering the pressure Derby came under, he only faced five shots on target. At 33, his reflexes might not quite be at the level they were but that was not the primary reason the team lost. 5

Andre Wisdom – the full-back impressed at left-back against Middlesbrough last time out, but switched to his natural side here when Lowe came in for Jayden Bogle. Ironically, he had more difficulties on his natural side and a night that started ominously, a bad challenge on Alioski in the box after just 32 seconds, did not progress before he was taken off at the interval. 4
Fikayo Tomori – the Chelsea loanee is nowhere near as experienced at this level as Curtis Davies, who is sidelined through injury. While Tomori has ball-playing qualities on his side, one wonders whether his tendency to rush out to engage with Roofe in the channels hindered Derby’s defensive structure and whether Davies, had he been fit, might have been a more suitable option for this type of game. 4
Richard Keogh – the centre-back’s aerial prowess and ability in possession used to be a strength of his game – notably in 2013-14 – but the second  goal proved he is not as aerially commanding as he used to be and his passing has now become a weakness. Keogh has endured a difficult few weeks which have called into question whether he can be part of Lampard’s long-term plans. 3
Max Lowe – the academy graduate can bring raw energy to Derby’s side but, used to youth football, he lacked the aggression required to deny space for Clarke and that was problematic in the lead-up to both goals. Then again, he will come up against less talented wingers between now and May. 4

George Evans – the sitting midfielder impressed in League One with Walsall but, while at Reading, received an element of criticism for some languid displays and this performance will fuel sceptics of his capabilities at Championship level. From the moment Evans was beaten in the air from an eighth-minute corner, his performance lacked the tenacity from somebody who, at 24, should have the legs to offer energy if not quality; in this case, he provided neither. 3
Mason Mount – after an outstanding opening four months of the campaign, Mount’s form has dipped slightly and his best moment here was a shot towards the end of the first half that he saw blocked. He is normally given a free role in Derby’s midfield but at Elland Road, he struggled to adapt to a different remit which required a willingness to put challenges in and focus on defending for spells. It felt like he was almost waiting for the ball to come to him, rather than showing a determination to seize the game himself. 5
Craig Bryson – the Scot might no longer possess the stamina to get from box to box for 90 minutes, but he retains a certain aggression as well as an excellent attitude that makes him an asset in this type of contest. Question marks over his positioning for the first goal seem slightly harsh and if more Derby players had replicated his work ethic out of possession, it might have been a different evening. 6

Tom Lawrence – the Manchester United academy graduate produced a wonder-strike in last week’s 2-2 draw with Southampton and he certainly has them in his locker, but only when there’s positive runners on the outside of him dragging defenders away. Because Derby’s attacking moves were either badly or conservatively co-ordinated, Leeds could often surround him with three or four white shirts and, with less space, the accuracy of his shooting suffered. 5
Jack Marriott – the former Peterborough front-man struggled in isolation at Elland Road; the issue of Lawrence and Holmes being too deep was a factor in the first half, although his performance did not drastically improve in the second period, when he had Nugent up top with him. Generally, Derby’s failure to severely threaten goal was a collective issue, rather than a question of Marriott not pulling his weight. 5
Duane Holmes – the attacking midfielder, who starred in League One with Scunthorpe last season, has delicate feet and a creative mind. In a system in which the wide ‘forwards’ spent long spells stuck in the defensive third, Derby needed somebody in his position with the pace and power to carry the ball individualistically over long distances. Holmes did not offer those qualities and looked uncomfortable when moved to right-back in the second half – if the Rams are to get the best out of the former Huddersfield man, they can only use him in a system that highlights his strong suits. 4

David Nugent (on 45) – the experienced forward was brought on to offer support up top for Marriott and while he was a willing presser, which his testament to his professionalism at 33, it rarely felt like his honest work was being backed up by the midfielders behind him. 6
Florian Jozefzoon (on 61) – the former Brentford winger might on paper have been more suited to starting this type of game than Holmes, although his impact in the final half hour was not particularly inspiring. 5
Martyn Waghorn (on 72) – the ex-Ipswich front-man was brought on for Marriott to provide more of a physical presence, but he too was dominated by Cooper and Jansson. 5