Match Reports

Under-23s : Tolaj off the bench to earn Albion a point

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Striker scores late on in 1-1 draw against Leeds United

By Bruce Talbot • 22 October 2021

By Malcolm Bryce
Lorent Tolaj celebrates after scoring Albion's equaliser against Leeds last Friday.

Lorent Tolaj came off the bench to earn Albion under-23s a deserved point in a lively 1-1 draw against Leeds United on Friday.

The Switzerland under-19 international struck six minutes from time at close range after another sub, Joe Snowdon, had fired Leeds into the lead midway through the second half.

Both teams hit the woodwork twice and there were several other near misses at either end in a fine advert for Premier League 2 at York City’s new home, the LNER Community Stadium.

Head coach Andrew Crofts named the same starting XI that beat Crystal Palace last Saturday but Albion found themselves under early pressure from a committed home side.

By Malcolm Bryce
Marc Leonard goes close with a first-half header

Lewis Bate nearly opened the deadlock when he got into the six-yard box and saw his shot deflected wide. Leeds were lively down both flanks early on, but Albion began to get into the game and could have scored in the 24th minute. Andy Moran’s pass released Odel Offiah for a right-wing cross which Marc Leonard met with a header that bounced down and up over the cross bar.

Albion were indebted to Tom McGill when Leeds enjoyed their best spell of the first half. The England youth keeper made a great reflex save in the 29th minute to push away a shot from Dutch youth international Crysencio Summerville that seemed to be heading for the top corner. Four minutes later Omari Miller’s left-foot effort beat McGill but came back off the far post before McGill did well again in the 41st minute to push away Max Deans’ effort.

Both sides committed more men forward at the start of the second half in search of a goal and Albion could have scored on a couple of occasions.

The impressive Moran led a counter-attack in the 48th minute before teeing up Todd Miller unmarked 12 yards out but his left-foot effort flew disappointingly wide of the left-hand post. Albion threatened again when defender Antef Tsoungui met Jack Spong’s corner with a powerful header which Miller cleared off the line.

By Malcolm Bryce
Todd Miller at full stretch against Leeds United

The visitors went even closer in the 58th minute when Moran drove forward and fired a low shot from the edge of the D which struck the base of the left-hand post.

Somehow the game was still goalless, but the deadlock was finally broken by Leeds midway through the second half. Sam Greenwood laid the ball off to substitute Snowdon and his low strike from 25 yards fizzed past McGill.  

Albion could feel hard done by and they nearly got an equaliser straight away when Ed Turns’ header clipped the outside of the post, but McGill had to make another good save 11 minutes from time when he came well out of his goal to block Greenwood’s shot.

By Malcolm Bryce
Evan Ferguson gets his shot away against Leeds United

Albion kept plugging away though and levelled six minutes from time. Jack Spong’s free kick from the right-hand corner of the box eluded several players and seemed to bounce back off goalkeeper Kris Klaesson to Tolaj, who turned it in from close range.

In a frantic finale Miller hit the woodwork for the second time for the home side but a point apiece it was.

Albion: McGill, Offiah (Packham 78), Tsoungui, Turns, Furlong, Dicker (Peupion 70), Spong, Moran, Leonard, Miller (Tolaj 70), Ferguson. Subs not used: Desbois, Ella.