Fresh from an enthralling seven-goal success over Ipswich Town in the Championship, Leeds United resume their EFL Cup campaign away to League Two outfit Salford City in the second round on Tuesday night.
While Daniel Farke’s men emerged triumphant 4-3 in their most recent league affair, Neil Wood’s men continued their inconsistent streak of form with a 2-1 loss at home to Accrington Stanley.
Success on the road has been relatively easy to come by for Salford so far this term, but Wood’s men are yet to achieve a maximum in front of their own fans, drawing with Crawley Town before being put to the sword by Accrington Stanley on Saturday afternoon.
The visitors entered the break with a healthy two-goal cushion courtesy of Shaun Whalley and Josh Andrews’s efforts, and even though Ryan Watson calmly sent Toby Savin the wrong way from the penalty spot to reduce the arrears, his 88th-minute spot kick was nothing more than a consolation.
While a record of seven points from their opening five League Two matches is hardly magnificent, 10th-placed Salford have already pulled off one giant killing in this year’s EFL Cup, dumping Leeds’ second-tier counterparts Preston North End out on penalties following a 2-2 draw at Deepdale.
Wood’s men could have got the job done in normal time had Connor McLennan’s first-half brace not been cancelled out, but thanks to their 12-yard supremacy, the hosts will compete in the second round of the EFL Cup for just the second time since their EFL inauguration in 2019.
The Ammies first got this far in the 2020-21 campaign, but they were comfortably dispatched 3-0 by a Carlo Ancelotti-led Everton team, and new ground could therefore be broken with another surprise success over Championship opposition.
Many a personal success story was written in the opening 20 minutes of Leeds’ Championship encounter with Ipswich at the weekend, as Daniel Farke’s men dusted themselves down following a seventh-minute Joe Rodon own goal and flaunted their offensive talent with a glut of first-half goals.
Georginio Rutter and new signing Joel Piroe both made the net ripple for the first time in Leeds colours either side of a strike from the returning Wilfried Gnonto – who is back in Farke’s good books after apologising for refusing to play – while a fourth effort from Luis Sinisterra registered Nathan Broadhead and Conor Chaplin’s responses meaningless.
Having only gleaned two points from their opening three Championship games, Leeds belatedly kickstarted their bid for a Premier League homecoming at the fourth attempt, but their first-round EFL Cup performance was far from inspiring; they had to come from a goal down to defeat Shrewsbury Town 2-1.
Nevertheless, that slender success was enough to propel Leeds into the second round for the eighth season running, and they have progressed from their most recent two ties at this stage, but their 2022-23 run then came to a swift end at the hands of Wolverhampton Wanderers in round three.
Following their long-awaited rise to League Two in 2019, Salford played their first-ever EFL Cup match against Leeds in the 2019-20 season, but they were subjected to a baptism of fire as goals from Eddie Nketiah, Gaetano Berardi and Mateusz Klich saw the Whites prevail 3-0.
Salford City EFL Cup form:
Salford City form (all competitions):
Leeds United EFL Cup form:
Leeds United form (all competitions):
We say: Salford City 1-3 Leeds United
Having already sent Preston packing in this year’s EFL Cup, Salford have nothing to lose on Tuesday and should at least fancy their chances of breaching a much-changed Leeds backline.
Farke’s team are yet to click into gear on all fronts this season, but with an abundance of attacking talent waiting in the wings, the Whites should bring a swift end to Salford’s EFL Cup adventure, as was the case four years ago.