Leeds United embarked on an away journey last Saturday afternoon to face Ipswich Town, who were leading the Sky Bet Championship early on. The encounter proved to be a thrilling back-and-forth affair.
As the match approached, Kieran McKenna’s team, the Blues, had secured victories in all three league matches, bolstered by a Carabao Cup triumph. This marked an impressive start to the season following their elevation from League One.
Daniel Farke’s team, on the other hand, sought their maiden league victory of the campaign. Two draws flanked a loss before their visit to Suffolk, although the Whites had already tasted victory in the Cup on their home ground against Shrewsbury Town.
The initial team news showcased the debut of new signing Joel Piroe. The prolific forward, recently acquired on a permanent basis from Swansea City, was promptly given the chance to shine by being included in the starting lineup.
Accompanying the fresh striker in the offensive line were the recalled pair Luis Sinisterra and Willy Gnonto, both earning spots in the starting lineup at Portman Road.
In a packed stadium with an electric atmosphere all around, it was the home side that seized an early advantage. Kayden Jackson broke loose on the left, and despite numerous offside appeals, play continued. He moved inside and drove a low ball across the box, unfortunately causing Joe Rodon to inadvertently direct it into his own goal.
However, Leeds promptly responded in an impressive manner. Georginio Rutter embarked on a splendid solo run after receiving Luke Ayling’s lofted pass, skillfully evading all defenders and then slotting the ball into the net off the post.
In the midst of the frantic opening in East Anglia, the Whites secured a second goal. Sam Byram created space on the left wing and delivered an excellent cross to the back post, where Gnonto outmanoeuvred his marker to neatly score.
Merely five minutes later, Piroe made his mark by scoring the third goal. Much credit was due to Sinisterra for his role in the build-up, as he created space and took a shot that was parried by the goalkeeper, allowing the debutant to slam it home from close range.
Both sides continued to create opportunities as they prioritized attacking play. A defensive mishap led Leeds to make a change, as Byram fell awkwardly while blocking a shot and had to be substituted for Drameh.
Deep into the added six minutes of injury time, the home team narrowed the gap before halftime. Jackson once again played the role of creator, intercepting a loose pass and pulling it back to Nathan Broadhead, who struck from the edge of the box.
The exhilarating first half concluded with Leeds holding a one-goal lead over the league-leading opponents.
HALF TIME: Ipswich Town 2-3 Leeds United
At the start of the second half, Farke made another substitution. Having come on during the first half, Drameh was replaced by Jamie Shackleton.
Around 15 minutes into the second half, the first significant chance materialized through the home team’s efforts. Broadhead, who had scored just before halftime, created an opportunity but saw Rodon dive in to block the attempt. From the ensuing corner, the ball reached Harry Clarke just outside the box, and his curling shot narrowly missed. On the opposite end, Piroe sprinted forward and forced a solid save from Vaclav Hladky.
The same combination of Sinisterra and Piroe came together again with 20 minutes left. Sinisterra set up Piroe in the box, who struck with his left foot, only for the Ipswich goalkeeper to make another excellent save.
With 15 minutes to go, Leeds found the net once more. Shackleton orchestrated an impressive buildup, finding Sinisterra in space. The winger skillfully shifted onto his right foot and delivered an excellent finish, securing the fourth goal for his team.
The hosts, determined to protect their undefeated record, pressed forward and kept Illan Meslier on his toes. Both substitutes, Jack Taylor and Omari Hutchinson, unleashed powerful shots that Meslier repelled.
In the dying seconds of added time, Conor Chaplin fired a low shot from outside the box, finding the bottom corner to narrow the gap for the home side.
However, there was no further time left, and Farke’s team managed to hold on, securing a crucial and fully deserved first three points of the season.
FULL TIME: Ipswich Town 3-4 Leeds United