REPORT | LEEDS UNITED 2 ARGYLE 1
Leeds United 2
A two-goal burst in the first half ultimately condemned Argyle to a narrow defeat in the cauldron of Elland Road.
Dan James stroked a lovely opener for Leeds United and the hosts doubled the lead through Joel Piroe, as the home side showed their attacking prowess in the opening half-hour.
The Pilgrims dug in and began to assert themselves on the game, earning a reward with a lovely goal from Ben Waine six minutes from time but it wasn’t enough for a draw.
Argyle manager made two changes from the thrilling 3-3 draw with Middlesbrough, Adam Randell and Julio Pleguezuelo replacing Waine and the suspended Mickel Miller.
The Greens started with a back three and that trio of Pleguezuelo, Dan Scarr and Lewis Gibson had to sustain some early pressure, clearing a fizzing cross from Crysensio Summerville before an outstanding defensive block from Gibson to thwart the same man.
Argyle opened their attacking account with a swift break down the right involving Bali Mumba and Morgan Whittaker, creating room for a sharp effort by Finn Azaz that was well held by Ilian Meslier in the home goal.
Leeds, who are enjoying a super run of form, including a 1-0 win at Leicester last weekend, found the breakthrough on 20 minutes, James picking up on a hacked clearance and curling a lovely finish into the corner, with Michael Cooper slightly unsighted.
More sharp work from James almost crafted number two for Leeds, as the Wales international cleverly laid a pass into midfield and received the return ball on the right flank, but the low cross was thankfully cleared by Pleguezuelo.
Unfortunately for Argyle, it was a brief reprieve, as Leeds won the ball in a dangerous area, Summerville slipped a pass to Piroe in the left channel and he guided a low finish past an advancing Cooper.
The pressure on the Pilgrims remained relentless, as Leeds buzzed around like a side playing with understandable confidence. Argyle found some relief with an excellent counter, beating the home press to release Whittaker for a cutback to Luke Cundle, who saw his shot deflected wide.
A smart save from Cooper then denied Georginio Rutter before Mumba was bundled over in the Leeds box, referee Josh Smith waving away Argyle penalty claims. The same Pilgrim posed another early threat after the restart, cutting back a pass for Whittaker to shoot straight at Meslier.
A goalbound block from Kaine Kesler-Hayden kept Argyle in the game on 51 minutes, as the Greens turned to the bench with the introduction of Waine and Joe Edwards for Randell and Pleguezuelo, but only after Rutter spooned a glorious chance from 12 yards.
The Greens reverted to a 4-3-3 formation but Leeds were still carrying a major threat, Rutter dinking a lovely ball into the area for Piroe, who headed over from a good position.
Gradually, however, Argyle were enjoying more possession in the Leeds half, with Jordan Houghton a growing influence on the ball in midfield. Schumacher responded by bringing on youngster Freddie Issaka and Callum Wright for Kesler-Hayden and Azaz.
Top defending from Scarr and Gibson blocked an effort by Leeds substitute Wilfried Gnonto as the game entered the final ten minutes, while Matt Butcher for Houghton was the last Argyle change.
It was another sub, Jaidon Anthony, who nearly sealed the points, jinking inside for a low right-foot shot, expertly turned around the post by Cooper.
Argyle replied with a super goal to change the dynamic at Elland Road. Scarr clipped a lovely ball down the right to Cundle, who crossed instantly to convert at the back post, and it was suddenly game on in Yorkshire.
The Pilgrims were massively in the ascendancy, winning successive corners, the second headed over at the near post by Waine, and six minutes of stoppage time prompted another roar from the Green Army.
Argyle gave everything in the closing stages but the points stayed in Leeds.
Leeds United: 1 Illan Meslier; 4 Ethan Ampadu, 6 Liam Cooper (capt), 7 Joel Piroe (9 Patrick Bamford 90), 8 Glen Kamara, 10 Crysensio Summerville (12 Jaidon Anthony 78), 14 Joe Rodon, 20 Dan James (29 Wilfried Gnonto 78), 22 Archie Gray, 24 Georginio Rutter (44 Ilia Gruev 90), 25 Sam Byram (3 Junior Firpo 53). Substitutes (not used): 28 Karl Darlow (gk), 2 Luke Ayling, 5 Charlie Cresswell, 27 Ian Poveda.
Booked: Gruev 90+2
Argyle: 1 Michael Cooper; 2 Bali Mumba, 4 Jordan Houghton (capt) (7 Matt Butcher 82), 5 Julio Pleguezuelo (8 Joe Edwards 57), 6 Dan Scarr, 10 Morgan Whittaker, 17 Lewis Gibson, 18 Finn Azaz (35 Freddie Issaka 75), 20 Adam Randell (23 Ben Waine 57), 28 Luke Cundle, 29 Kaine Kesler-Hayden (11 Callum Wright 75). Substitutes (not used): 21 Conor Hazard (gk), 3 Macaulay Gillepshey, 16 Lewis Warrington, 19 Tyreik Wright.
Booked: Randell 33, Whittaker 61, Gibson 89
Referee: Josh Smith