Leeds United U21s bowed out of the Papa John’s Trophy on Tuesday evening, with the youngsters’ 0-0 draw with Crewe Alexandra – and subsequent penalty shoot-out loss – seeing the Whites finish third in Northern Group B.
However, considering just how dominant Michael Skubala’s side were at The Mornflake Stadium, Leeds will feel as if they missed a huge opportunity to seal progression in the competition.
Indeed, over the course of the 90 minutes, the U21s boasted an enormous 75% possession of the ball, took 16 shots to Crewe’s two – with the Whites hitting the target six times, while the League Two side failed to test Harry Christy once – and completed 469 passes to the home side’s 96.
Despite this, it would be Crewe who went on to claim the bonus point in the penalty shoot-out, with the home side running out 2-1 winners after Leeds missed four of their spot kicks.
However, while the result will undoubtedly be a bitter pill to swallow, there were nevertheless a couple of impressive individual performances on display last night, with Darko Gyabi once again catching the eye in the middle of the park.
Indeed, over the course of his 90 minutes on the pitch, the £5m summer signing enjoyed 83 touches of the ball, completed 54 passes, found his man with seven of his 12 attempted long balls and made one key pass.
The 18-year-old also took three shots at the Crewe goal – one of which was a 25-yard drive that Dave Richards brilliantly tipped onto the crossbar – completed both of his two attempted dribbles, won five of his eight duels – a success rate of 67.5% – and made one tackle.
These returns saw the England U19 international earn an impressive SofaScore match rating of 7.0, while Yorkshire Evening Post journalist Joe Donnohue also awarded the midfielder a seven in his own player ratings, as well as stating of Gyabi: “One of the better youngsters tonight, controlled aggression and good at picking passes through bodies.”
As such, despite the disappointment of the defeat on Tuesday night, the player who Neil Harris dubbed an “exceptional” talent was undoubtedly one of the brighter sparks, with the playmaker very much looking to have staked a place in Jesse Marsch’s first-team squad with his performance against Crewe.