Leeds United U21 0-7 PSV Eindhoven U21 (Premier League International Cup)
There's nothing better than checking out an Academy team’s line-up and finding out they feature a son of a forgotten footballer.
Leeds United have a famous football pedigree for bringing 'good' young players through their system. 17-year-old Archie Gray was man of the match last night in the first teams 1-0 win over Norwich, not yet a man he's the son of Andy Gray, grandson of Frank Gray and nephew of Eddie Gray, all legendary Leeds icons.
I'm a Forest fan though, and I've noticed a Norwegian born in Nottingham, centre half and son of former red, Jon Olav Hjelde, 20 year old Leo is in the team tonight.
On Saturday I attempted the journey to York, and failed, tonight I've succeeded as I pull into the Hollywood Bowl Car Park with an hour to go before kick-off and nip into Costa for an Americano before realising the queue is too big and there's a slow plodding grandma in front so walk out.
I’m walking around the outside of the stadium trying to find a door, it’s confusing as there’s no information on the ticket I’ve got so aim towards the Leisure Centre and hospitality entrance, the stadium outset hidden behind all these useable units for health and entertainment, it only feels like a football ground when you get a glimpse of a corner stand in between the glass windows of the buildings attached.
There’s a smell of chlorine as I walk behind the back of the Leisure Centre and pass the indoor swimming pool which you can see into through the glass windows, finally I see a team bus parked up, engine running, I walk around the corner and the West Stand looks open for business. Stewards on the doors with a table out ready, checking for bags.
A quick scan of my mobile phone at the turnstile and I’m third in the queue at the kiosk asking for a chicken & mushroom pie and cuppa, £7.50 is the damage, the damage made to the pie is instantaneous, I’ve hardly eaten all day.
Out on to the track I’m half way and back row, ten or twelve up where there’s fans to my right, netting to my left, the stand opposite has the dugouts and players entrance as both sets warm up on what looks a cracking surface considering York’s recent postponements.
The stadium is modern, new, plush, fancy, red and yellow dotted seats, a few in blue and white, it’s all done very arty, the stands are similar looking but each a slightly different size.
There’s a couple of old boys next to me, one of which hands me a team sheet as I can’t find the PSV line-up on Twitter, ‘where did you get that from’ I say? “I’ve got three of them” he replies. “they were on the desk in the shop when I brought my ticket”.
They like me were supposed to be at York City on Saturday but after hearing of late postponement one went to watch Halifax whilst the other opted for Harrogate Railway Athletic. Both were watching Fylde on Tuesday night and this is already their second game of the day. Enthusiasts that even surpass my levels as one places his team sheet in a plastic folder to keep it dry from the rain.
The heavens have after all opened, it’s been chucking it down sporadically since 6pm but it’s that fine stuff and won’t damage this pitch in good nick, it does have an effect on the opening though as Leeds don’t look that up for it, bar centre half James Debayo who’s trying frequently to dribble around players unsuccessfully.
PSV have full control, they look like a team who know every players movements and whereabouts, Jong PSV after all are in the Eerste Division, the first tier of Dutch football, slightly different to our country that Academy sides like Ajax, AZ and PSV can participate so high, but it works well in certain countries and certainly gives young fringe players at the bigger clubs that edge, seven of the players in tonight’s eleven started the game against De Graafschap on Monday night.
As results go it’s about as one sided as they come. PSV open the scoring after Leeds goalkeeper Christy stands on the ball for 30 seconds before giving it straight to an opposition player. Christy does well to block the initial attempt but it falls to Mohammed Nassoh who makes no mistake from close range.
The Leeds right side is getting a pounding as Emir Bars and Fredrik Oppegard combine. I really like left back Oppegard who gets forward with electric pace. That combination has influence on many opportunity and on 26 midfielder van den Heuvel takes advantage as he makes it two. Three minutes later Abed is given too much time inside the area after good work from Bars, he makes it three before right back Dagasan is left unmarked at the back post to crown a terrific first half performance from the Dutch pass masters.
Oppegard gets in on the act just five minutes into the second half when he’s left unmarked at the back post after good work down the right wing this time by the silky Tai Abed. The space PSV have been given in the full back areas is alarming, Leeds haven’t played terribly badly, they have some good players with some good technique, they just haven’t defended from wide very well.
I read that Scott Gardner, a former player with Mansfield and Eastwood Town, is their Head Coach… I wonder if he’s bitten off more than he can chew against a PSV boss in Will Boessen who’s played over 400 games in Holland and has been involved in top level management since 2010.
Things get worse late on when a pull inside the box results in a penalty to PSV dispatched by cultured number nine Jevon Simons for number six, things get worse still when Christy brings down leggy substitute Dantaye Gilbert who picks himself up to dispatch the spot kick. Seven goals, seven different scorers, Leeds have been well and truly thumped as some fans get up and start to leave… “We’ve came all the way from Norway for this” one says as he waves goodbye.
Quite simply, PSV were brilliant. Their combinations cute, Dagasan and Abed down the right, Oppegard and Bars on the left, midfielder Richard Ledezma picking the ball up off the centre halves to dictate, Jevon Simons and Mo Nassoh interchanging with high levels of skill and technique throughout. This was a side who had fun, who played with confidence, who struck the ball with a real purpose and who moved off it to create space for others. They looked levels above Leeds in what they did, after all they are the current holders of the Premier League International Cup, and on this showing, there won’t be many better teams they come up against as they look to retain it?
For Leeds, as mentioned they weren’t that bad and shown glimpses of good quality, through James Debayo a rough diamond at centre half who loves carrying the ball forward with pace and power from the back, in Dan Toulson a plucky midfield number four who the longer the game went got better, never failing to compete despite the scoreline where you so often see heads down, so too striker Sonny Perkins, a number nine in the Patrick Bamford meld, he contested well and his hold up play for a youngster very good, nice feet too.
Joe Snowdon and Cian Coleman both technically good footballers on either flank, as for Leo Hjelde, well he played left back and did ok… But not yet as good as his dad.
PSV have a rolling conveyor belt of academy stars and are known for giving young prospects a chance from signing the likes of Robben, Ronaldo and van Nistelrooy at an early age to developing players like Depay, Wijnaldum, Gakpo, all eventually moving on for millions to make more money for the Phillips Sport Football Franchise.
Leeds United in effect have a similar rolling belt that dates back to the great Don Revie team of the 1960’s and 70’s. Jack Charlton, Norman Hunter, Terry Cooper, Eddie Gray, Frank Gray, Andy Gray, Archie Gray… From Gary Speed and David Batty, Alan Smith to Kalvin Phillips, they’ll keep doing what they are doing and nights like this… Well it’s part of the learning process.
Leeds United: Harry Christy, Harvey Sutcliffe (Max McFadden 15), Leo Hjelde, Dan Toulson, James Debayo, Diogo Monteiro, Luca Thomas (Marley Wilson 77), Charlie Crew, Sonny Perkins, Cian Coleman, Joe Snowdon (Charlie Allen 65).
PSV Eindhoven: Niek Schiks, Muhlis Dagasan (Bram Rovers 58), Matteo Dams, Mylian Jimenez, Fredrik Oppegard (Koen Jansen 58), Richard Ledezma (Dantaye Gilbert 46), Tai Abed (Iggy Houben 71), Tim van den Heuvel, Jevon Simons, Mo Nassoh, Emir Bars (Julian Kwaartial 71).
7:00pm Kick Off. Thursday 25th January 2024, York Community Stadium, York (att 500 est).