Clinical Toon defeat resurgent Leeds

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Leeds 0-2 Newcastle – mirror.co.uk

Dwight Gayle’s performance in Newcastle United’s 2-0 win at Elland Road summed up that of his team: not outstanding, but clinical and effective. Indeed, the former Crystal Palace striker is proving to be Alan Pardew’s best piece of business for his old club, taking his goal tally to 13 for the season.

Leeds worked hard and had spells of pressure, whilst limiting Newcastle to few first half chances. When they pressed early on though, the back-line did not move up in unison and their opponents found it easy to get into spaces in front of the defence. It was down to the work of the defence, particularly centre-backs Kyle Bartley and Pontus Jansson, that the likes of Ayoze Perez and Matt Ritchie were unable to get in behind.

Chris Wood did not have much support at the other end. Like many of his Toon teammates, Jack Colback showed discipline in front of the back four and played his part in the opening goal. He caught Robert Green off his line and the goalkeeper tried to push the ball away, but Gayle smelt danger and finished at the rebound.

Kalvin Phillips looked uncomfortable in his advanced midfield role, as did Souleymane Doukara on the left wing. The man starting behind the latter though, Charlie Taylor, caused problems for a shaky Vurnon Anita, so much so that the right-back briefly swapped places with left-back Paul Dummett.

Leeds grew stronger in the latter stages of the first half. Luke Ayling’s header required a good save from Karl Darlow before Kemar Roofe’s deflected shot led to a succession of corners. Garry Monk’s side continued to apply pressure early in the second half, Eunan O’Kane finding space to turn in the box before forcing another save from Darlow, whose display was one of the factors behind the win.

Another was the performance of his former Nottingham Forest teammate, Jamaal Lascelles, alongside the similarly impressive Ciaran Clark at centre-back. The trio’s work was rewarded when Gayle had his second chance of the game – and scored his second goal. The former Dagenham & Redbridge forward tapped home, after some good combination play between Colback, Perez and Anita.

Leeds lost their confidence after the second goal, unable to break into the opposing half. Roofe looked bright during the home side’s better moments but was not fed the ball often enough, while midfielders such as O’Kane did not move it with the required urgency.

The West Yorkshire side reached their highest league attendance, 36k, since May 2010. They missed an opportunity to reward supporters with a move into the top six, but the signs are that Monk has galvanized the club. The gulf between the teams was not enormous, but Newcastle’s disciplined defending and clinical finishing saw them to victory.

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