Daniel Farke is 'happy man' after Leeds United avoid sucker punch to continue winning ways against Plymouth
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It was a little bit of a nervy win in the end after the visitors scored a late goal, but for more than 80 minutes the Whites were in control and should have won by a much bigger margin – a familiar story this season amid a strong run that has taken United into third place in the Championship.
“I'll take these three points all day long. If you would have offered me to win 2-1 before the game I would have signed it,” said manager Farke.
“I was really concerned. After a spotlight game, after a brilliant result and performance (at Leicester) and getting so much praise from the press, fans, pundits – and well deserved – the training week was very good and my gut feeling was it's all too easy.
“I’ve experienced this before as a player and a manager. Normally you're there with a sucker punch. So those three points are priceless. A perfect result.
“When you're so dominant as we were in the first half, 2-0 up, you speak about the chances in the second half, you would have wished to win 6-0 but if you don't score the goals it's always the same.”
"We were so dominant and created so many chances it could have been six or seven goals and we would have sent the fans home happy. They had one chance and scored with it.
“Joel Piroe in two situations where he normally always scores, Rutter with a couple of chances, Gnonto in a one v one that he normally scores, Anthony with a big chance. Normally you should score at least three or four.
“But there's also a brave opponent who plays with freedom and goes for it. We allowed them to have one chance in the second half, they were clinical, able to score.
“Then you have to bring a tight lead over the line so I was quite pleased. We made our life a bit more complicated than it should have been but again I just have compliments for the performance, for a valuable three points. I'm still a happy man.”
Farke is pleased with the way the Whites are going after their far from easy start to the campaign.
He added: “I'm not too addicted to a position in the table, but after this tricky start if someone had guaranteed us to be in third many people would have said it would be a positive surprise.
“We're in a really good shape, on a really good run, six wins out of seven is a top level. The performance levels is the most important topic. We improve more or less on a weekly basis and show some really consistent performances.
“We show the values we want to stand for and to create a big identity and unity within the club and dressing room.
“This is Leeds United and this is how we want to work and play. The points average, nearly two per game, if we can transport this to the end of the season then happy days. It's a long way to go. If we stay on 31 points we'll probably be relegated so we have to make sure we win many, many points and this is definitely the plan.”
After sizing the opposition up with their sitting deep approach and a back five, Leeds gradually took charge and played some scintillating football in the first half.
Their first big chance came on 14 minutes when Crysencio Summerville looked certain to score only for his far post volley to be well blocked after he had met Dan James' perfect cross. From the resulting corner Liam Cooper sent a glancing header wide.
Plymouth briefly threatened as Finn Azaz found space in the box only to see his shot well held by Illan Meslier.
But soon United were back on top and they went ahead as James supplied a well placed finish after the ball fell to him when Glen Kamara won the ball off a visiting defender in the area.
A minute later James played a brilliant give and go with Joel Piroe to get in behind the Argyle defence, but his cross agonisingly went just behind Summerville.
Leeds then appeared to be unlucky as Summerville was played in by Sam Byram and put the ball in the net only to be flagged offside in a tight decision.
But within a minute of this it was 2-0 as the great football continued and Summerville cleverly played in Piroe to score with a smart angled finish.
Luke Candle had a shot deflected wide at the other end as Plymouth showed they could play as well. But it could have been more for the home team with Rutter opening up space well only to see his angled shot saved at two attempts by keeper Michael Cooper.
Piroe then saw his shot more easily saved when a better option might have been to play in unmarked teammates.
The second half saw the visitors manage the first effort with Morgan Whittaker's 20-yard shot well held by Meslier.
But almost straight after Summerville got in behind again and pulled the ball back for Piroe whose goal-bound shot was well blocked by a combination of keeper and defender.
With Leeds briefly down to 10 men after an injury to Byram Plymouth went down the side he had vacated with Kaine Kesler-Hayden pulling a shot wide and manager Farke unhappy with the officials for not letting him make a substitution.
It was a more open game in the second period, but United created bigger chances yet somehow could not add to their lead.
Rutter's attempt to chip the keeper who was off his line ended in an easy save, the same Leeds striker then was found in space in the box only to shoot over and Piroe lobbed a header over following good build-up play by Rutter.
Substitute Willy Gnonto was next to have a big opportunity after being slipped in by Rutter, but his shot was well blocked.
Another of the subs, Jaidon Anthony, made space in the box only to see his shot well saved by Cooper.
It was completely out of the blue when Plymouth pulled a goal back six minutes from time. Cundle got in behind the home defence and his cross was put home by substitute Ben Waine.
Suddenly the Whites had some defending to do and the visitors had another chance as Waine headed over from a corner.
But despite having to play more than seven minutes of added time Leeds saw the game out for their deserved three points and could have stretched their advantage when Rutter made space in the area, but could not keep his shot down.
Leeds United 2
(James 21, Piroe 28)
Plymouth Argyle 1
Saturday, November 11, 2023
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Cooper, Byram (Firpo 54); Ampadu, Kamara; James (Gnonto 78), Piroe (Bamford 90+1), Summerville (Anthony 78); Rutter (Gruev 90+1).
Plymouth: Cooper; Mumba, Pleguezuelo (Edwards 57), Scarr, Gibson, Kesler-Hayden; Houghton (Issake 81), Randell (Waine 57), Azaz (C Wright 74); Whittaker, Cundle.
Referee: Josh Smith