Mateo Joseph stole the show for Leeds United under-21s on Friday night as Michael Skubala’s young side started their Premier League 2 campaign with a 5-2 win over Derby County. Joseph scored a first-half hat-trick for the Whites to put the visitors 3-0 up before the 30 minute mark at Pride Park
Fresh from his switch from West Ham United, Sonny Perkins scored Leeds’ fourth of the night with a poacher’s finish from inside the six-yard box, before Joseph bagged the final goal of the match 20 minutes before full-time. It was a performance that not only built on the goal he scored against Blackpool in the first-team last month, but showcased his talent and potential as he made a clear statement of intent.
Perkins, Archie Gray, Jeremiah Mullen and Darko Gyabi were amongst those to impress against the Rams, while Dan James did enough to catch the eye after stepping down from the senior side while suspended. However, it was Joseph who won the most praise from his head coach Skubala after the match.
“He was amazing,” Skubala, who joined Leeds last week, said after watching his side for the first time. “I’ve been here a week and what an athlete Mateo is and what a kid he is, first of all.
“He works hard, his attitude is brilliant and I look at him and think ‘what you could be for a Leeds player’. If I’m watching that as a fan I’m thinking ‘Wow! I want him in the team’. Today I thought he showed his qualities, he absolutely showed his quality, his spinning in behind and getting four goals.
“I thought he was exciting today. We’ve got Sonny who is exciting and he can play as a nine as well, so how do we get Sonny as a nine? We’ve got Sean McGurk, we’ve got Dan James, a really professional performance.
“He’s obviously come in and he’s been great with the group, it’s what you want to see from your pros coming in, he’s been amazing with the group.”
As the scoreline would suggest, the Whites were by far the most dangerous and creative team on the ball, but they looked the part off the ball, too, pressing high up the field and making life difficult for Derby in front of a crowd of over 800. The front four led the press and that set the tone for the Whites to go on and record a comfortable victory to get their Premier League 2 Division 2 campaign on the right track.
“I want us to be aggressive, I want us to be on the front foot and I want us to put teams under a lot of pressure because we can be exciting and we’ve got exciting players,” Skubala added. “If we can get that intensity and intent in our game in our game I think we can be an exciting group.
“At times that looked brilliant. There were times when we have to learn when and where to not do it but there times we were really positive.
“You can probably already see, we’ve worked a lot on pressing from the front in training and you can see the work that’s been done there. Just getting them to understand how I want us to play, be aggressive and at the minute I need to keep driving them and working them to do that well. It was amazing when they got it right, it looked like they couldn’t get out.”