By James Dielhenn
Tuesday 25th September 2012
Capital One Cup Third Round
Elland Road, Att: 21,164
Leeds 2 - 1 Everton
White 4' Distin 81'
Team: Ashdown, Byram, Lees, Pearce, Pugh, White, Austin, Brown, Tonge, Diouf, Becchio
Subs: Rachubka, Kisnorbo, Drury, Thompson, Varney, Poleon, Gray
With Leeds' thin squad and injury problems, an energy sapping midweek fixture against Premier League was the last thing that they needed. However, defeating Everton with such a brilliant performance could spur them on for the foreseeable future.
Jamie Ashdown was given a chance in goal at Paddy Kenny's expense. He had no chance with the goal, but blocked a couple of long-range efforts and, even more importantly, claimed a couple of dangerous crosses. He would have expected to have been busier. 7
Sam Byram looks better every time he takes to the pitch. At first his passing was slightly off, but as the right-back relaxed he put in a good display. He is competent in defence, pacey and most impressively he has real confidence with the ball at his feet. A couple of times his dribbling gave Everton problems. 7
Tom Lees is also growing with every match that goes by. He was excellent, perfectly positioned for the whole game. His bloodied face was an indication of the toughness that Neil Warnock has instilled in his game. Two of his blocks were just as vital as the goals that we scored. 8
Jason Pearce is an absolute warrior at centre-back. Before Lees, he cut his face open after a nasty clash of heads. But he battled on, getting in the way of everything that came his way. Pearce captained the team tonight and he was exceptional. 8
Danny Pugh was perhaps a surprise inclusion at left-back. Transfer listed during the summer by Warnock, this was his first appearance of the season but he didn't let anybody down. One lapse of concentration allowed Everton's Naismith to win a back-post header but apart from that, he defended astutely. Maybe Warnock will trust Pugh more after this display. 7
Michael Brown is a decent player to call upon occasionally when Warnock decides to shuffle his pack. His experience means that he is never daunted by any opposition and he asserted himself as the defensive midfielder today. He picked up his customary booking for a wild tackle but his aggressiveness and positional play were very helpful. 7
Rodolph Austin was Leeds' best player. The Jamaican is an absolutely outstanding midfielder. He contested every ball, closed down Everton's playmakers and put his body on the line - but on top of that he had the fitness and ability to charge up the field with the ball. His lung-busting run and subtlety of touch won the free-kick from which he stabbed home the winning goal. Nobody is more important to Leeds that Austin. 9
Michael Tonge operated from the left-hand side, an unfamiliar position. His performance was workmanlike, and he did his part in closing down Everton. In possession Tonge is weak, though. Too often he is unable to contribute positively to an attack. 6
Aidy White played on the right wing. He has suffered from a bad start to the season but after just four minutes he finally scored his first professional goal with a stunning effort. He beat Fellaini and Distin - no mean feat - before curling a shot home. Otherwise, he was threatening as he dribbled down the flank and helped out defensively. He will surely come into consideration for the weekend's league match after his recent stint on the bench. 8
El Hadji Diouf played in the hole behind the striker and probably had his best game for Leeds so far. He was aggressive and really riled Everton's fans and players, winning countless free-kicks and dragging Leeds up the pitch when they were under pressure. Diouf was outstanding in possession, too, barely ever losing the ball in a congested midfield area. He really proved his experience and quality with this performance. He also showed Warnock that his most effective position is in a free role behind the striker. 9
Luciano Becchio had the unenviable job of playing up-front alone against Everton's ultra experienced central defenders. He put them under plenty of pressure, and considering he is carrying an injury he played well. He almost scored with a header that was cleared off the line. 7
Overall, Leeds were outstanding and this battling performance will give them confidence against any Championship team. Let's just hope that the energy used on earning this victory won't derail them at the weekend.
Neil Warnock Post Match
“Everyone’s a bit surprised. Even our fans will be surprised. But that’s what football’s about – surprising people.
“I’d be surprised if any of the lads didn’t watch it again when they got home.
“Everton really wanted to win the competition and that makes the result even better for me. We deserved the win and everything about the game was good.
“There wasn’t a weakness in our team. If there had have been a weakness then we’d have got beaten.”
(on Diouf's future) “Diouf won’t go anywhere else.
“He’s promised me certain things and I’m happy with that.
“He’s obviously not doing it for money because he’s one of our lowest-paid players but he’s not going to get a stage like this again. He’s a matador and you need someone like that.”