Joy for Redfearn as first half show earns win for Leeds United

Souleymane Doukara.
Souleymane Doukara.
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A blistering start and three first half goals enabled Neil Redfearn to celebrate his first victory as full-time head coach as Leeds United beat bottom of the table Blackpool 3-1.

The Whites could not match their first half display after the break and are still searching for a 90-minute display, but they saw the game out for a vital three points to end their run of eight games without a win and climb to 15th in the Sky Bet Championship.

Leeds were at it right from the start and had their first shot in the opening two minutes as the two strikers combined well, Mirco Antenucci getting on the end of Souleymane Doukara’s through ball only to see his low shot well saved by Joe Lewis.

Sam Byram then had a cross come shot flash narrowly wide and Antenucci scooped a shot over from in the box as United swarmed all over their opponents.

They took a fully deserved lead in the ninth minute when the ball fell to defender Liam Cooper on the edge of the area and he smashed a volley past Lewis for his first goal in Leeds colours.

Antenucci almost doubled the lead soon after when racing clear onto a long ball over the top of the Blackpool defence, but his shot hit the side netting.

United stayed on top as Doukara got on the end of a ball into the box only to mis-hit his shot and he had a shot deflected wide following Adryan’s pass.

Doukara did make it 2-0 on 31 minutes with a real goal of the season contender as they went from their box to the other end with some superb football.

Byram and Lewis Cook started the move on the edge of the United box before Antenucci worked the ball to Adryan, who then slipped Doukara in to supply a calm angled finish for a team goal of the highest class.

It was 3-0 just before half-time as Antenucci got the goal his work rate had deserved when his strike from the edge of the box appeared to go in via a deflection.

Blackpool, who had never looked like scoring in the first 45 minutes, improved after the break after putting on big striker Nile Ranger.

The substitute gave the hosts a scare with a header from a corner that bounced just wide and suddenly Leeds stopped playing.

Doukara did have one shot easily saved by Lewis and Tomasso Bianchi saw a clever low cross saved at full stretch by Lewis with Antenucci coming in for the kill. But generally United lost their way in the way they had done in the recent capitulation against Wolves.

Head coach Redfearn threw on fit again Rudy Austin for Adryan as he tried to get some energy back into his side’s play, but it was Blackpool who got a goal on 75 minutes when Ranger headed home from Jacob Murphy’s corner.

Leeds responded with their best attack of the half as Austin got free down the right and crossed for Antenucci whose shot was blocked by Lewis then just cleared by a defender as Doukara looked set to pounce for the rebound.

They then breathed a sigh of relief at the other end as Ranger flashed a shot just wide from the edge of the box.

But the remainder was comfortable for United as they ended their run without a win.

Redfearn was obviously pleased with his first win since taking over as permanent head coach.

He said: “We were excellent first half, some of the passes and the way we moved the ball was different class.

“The second half was a bit of a damp squib, but the important thing was that we got the points on the back of a very good first half performance.

“This is a side that’s come off the back of I don’t know how many games without a win to produce a performance like that in the first half.

“It’s still two forward, one back, but we are looking more like we are getting there. It was an important win for us and we earned the result.

“The start was like a whirlwind and that’s what won us the game.”

Match facts

Leeds United 3

(Cooper 9, Doukara 31, Antenucci 42)

Blackpool 1

(Ranger 75)

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 23,846

Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Bianchi (Tonge 70), Cook, Mowatt, Adryan (Austin 64), Doukara, Antenucci (Sharp 89).

Blackpool: Lewis, Daniels, Clarke, Dunne, Lenihan, Lundstram (Mellis 69), Orlandi (Ranger 45), Perkins, Blackman (O’Hara 17), Murphy, Miller.

Referee: Stuart Attwell