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Leeds scrape to victory over Preston thanks to late Joel Piroe penalty

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 21 Jan 2024

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Joel Piroe scored a stoppage-time penalty as Leeds boosted their automatic promotion challenge with a 2-1 home win against Preston.

Second-half substitute Piroe converted from the spot in the third minute of added time after Ryan Ledson was adjudged to have handled and Leeds’ last-gasp victory saw them close the gap on the top two back to four points.

Will Keane gave Preston a second-minute lead and although Dan James equalised four minutes later it proved a frustrating afternoon for Leeds against dogged opponents.

Preston were without Duane Holmes, Freddie Woodman and Milutin Osmajic due to illness, but they made a flying start.

Ben Whiteman’s free-kick into the penalty area was headed back across goal by Liam Lindsay and, after Leeds failed to clear, Liam Millar’s mis-cued shot was turned home by Keane.

Preston’s lead was short-lived though. Junior Firpo raced on to Crysencio Summerville’s ball down the left and clipped a brilliant cross to the far post on the overlap for James to head Leeds level.

The visitors appeared undeterred and it needed a flying save from Illan Meslier to keep out a goalbound effort from Millar, Preston’s match-winner when they beat Leeds 2-1 at Deepdale on Boxing Day.

Patrick Bamford headed James’ excellent cross straight at Preston goalkeeper Dai Cornell and Georginio Rutter was off target from Ilia Gruev’s corner, but despite stepping it up before the break the home side were kept at bay.

Summerville’s brilliant run to the by-line and cut back should have resulted in a second goal for Leeds soon after the restart, but Rutter’s effort hit a post.

Bamford fired wide after being played in by Rutter and saw another effort blocked before James’ clever chip narrowly cleared the crossbar as Leeds picked up where they left off.

But Preston were proving dogged opponents and the home fans’ frustration turned to cheers when Cornell was booked by referee David Webb for time wasting in the 82nd minute.

Ledson became the fifth Preston yellow card after his trip on Gruev, which sparked a mass melee in midfield and also resulted in a booking for Bamford.

Rutter and substitute Joel Piroe squandered further chances for Leeds and Preston substitute Robbie Brady’s last-ditch tackle on Bamford was celebrated by the visiting players.

But in added time Ledson’s outstretched arm made contact with the ball in the area following Joe Rodon’s header and Piroe held his nerve to bury his penalty and raise the roof at Elland Road.

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