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Leeds U21s: Joe Gelhardt failed his big chance vs Crewe

Leeds United U21s went into Tuesday evening’s Papa John’s Trophy clash knowing that a win over Crewe Alexandra would see them qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.

However, despite dominating the entirety of the game – boasting an incredible 75% possession, taking 16 shots to Crewe’s two, and completing nearly 400 more passes than the hosts – Michael Skubala’s side could not make the breakthrough.

Indeed, Sonny Perkins, Darko Gyabi, Junior Firpo and Mateo Joseph all saw their efforts saved by a resilient Dave Richards between the home side’s sticks, with the game finishing 0-0 and heading to penalties.

In keeping with the theme of the match, Leeds once again failed to make their chances pay from the spot, as, despite taking all five of their penalties, only Mateusz Klich found the back of the net – with the League Two side winning 2-1.

And, while Skubala will undoubtedly be disappointed to see his side exit the competition, from Jesse Marsch’s perspective, the performance of Joe Gelhardt will likely have been the biggest cause for concern on the night.

Indeed, over the course of his 62 minutes on the pitch, the £8.8m-rated talent offered his side extremely little going forwards, enjoying a mere 35 touches of the ball, completing just 20 passes and failing to take a single shot at goal, in addition to completing just one of his four attempted dribbles.

The commonly called “wonderkid” was also bullied on the ball, losing six of his ten duels – a success rate of just 40% – while he also ceded possession on ten separate occasions – meaning he gave the ball away with every three touches he had at The Mornflake Stadium.

These returns saw the £16.5k-per-week forward earn an extremely disappointing SofaScore match rating of 6.4, while the Yorkshire Evening Post’s Joe Donnohue also awarded the 20-year-old a six in his own player ratings, as well as stating of the England U21 international’s display:

“Joe Gelhardt – Ran around a lot but always found himself snuffed out in the No. 10 position.”

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As such, with Wilfried Gnonto’s spectacular outing in the senior side’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool last weekend looking to have moved the Italy international ahead of Gelhardt in Marsch’s first-team pecking order, if this was the English starlet’s big chance to restake a claim in the senior side, it is one the striker unfortunately failed.

Indeed, while both Perkins and Joseph were also wasteful in front of goal on Tuesday night, Gelhardt’s display was certainly the most forgettable for the U21s.