Leeds advanced into the FA Cup fifth round thanks to goals from Jack Harrison, Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra in a 3-1 victory over League One side Accrington.
The scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story after the hosts enjoyed the better of the first half yet trailed when Harrison blasted home from the edge of the box.
Accrington rallied again after the break but began to fade as Leeds’ Premier League quality came out with two goals in the space of two minutes. Patrick Bamford set up Firpo with a lovely scooped pass to allow the left-back to fire in and then Harrison pulled the ball back for Sinisterra to apply a simple finish from close range.
Stanley finally found the net late on for the goal their performance deserved when 18-year-old substitute Leslie Adekoya scored with his first touch from Sebastian Quirk’s pullback.
How Leeds avoided an FA Cup upset
The opening exchanges were fast and furious. Accrington skipper Sean McConville stung Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier’s palms with a 25-yard drive and Shaun Whalley was denied by Max Wober’s lunging tackle.
Leeds’ record signing Georginio Rutter almost made a dream start on his first appearance for the club, dragging a low left-footed shot inches wide with his first real touch.
Accrington made it uncomfortable for the visitors. McConville launched another rocket and Whalley threatened at the near post, with both efforts held by Meslier.
But Leeds took a 23rd-minute lead with the game’s first moment of real quality when Harrison lashed home a blistering drive into the bottom corner after some neat build-up.
Stanley responded well. Brentford loanee Aaron Pressley’s angled shot was saved by Meslier, who fumbled Whalley’s dangerous ball into the box soon after.
Leeds almost doubled their lead through Sinisterra, whose long-range effort crashed against a post – replays showed Toby Savin got his fingers to it – but Jesse Marsch’s side had Meslier to thank for keeping them in front when he kept out Ethan Hamilton’s shot.
Accrington spurned a golden chance to equalize moments after the restart when Harvey Rodgers – a lifelong Leeds fan – failed to get his shot on target at the far post following McConville’s free-kick. Rodgers stabbed another chance wide after Meslier spilled Doug Tharme’s long throw.
Leeds wasted two chances of their own in quick succession just after the hour mark as Bamford and Sinisterra fired off target.
But Leeds then put the tie to bed with two goals in as many minutes. Bamford brilliantly teed up Firpo to drill home his first goal for the club and another free-flowing move ended with Sinisterra’s thumping finish from Harrison’s pass.
Savin denied Leeds a fourth when keeping out substitute Rodrigo’s shot as Leeds threatened to overrun their hosts.
But John Coleman’s side went down fighting and deservedly reduced the deficit in the 81st minute when Adekoya swept home Quirk’s pass from six yards.
Accrington’s next game is in League One, with Lincoln visiting the Wham Stadium on Saturday; kick-off 3pm.
John Coleman’s side then travel to Vale Park to take on Port Vale on Tuesday February 7; kick-off 7.45pm.
Leeds are next in action in the Premier League, with a trip to Nottingham Forest on Sunday February 5, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.
Sunday 5th February 1:00pm
Kick off 2:00pm
Jesse Marsch’s side then face a Premier League double-header against Manchester Unitedwith a trip to Old Trafford on Wednesday February 8 – kick-off 8pm – before they host their rivals at Elland Road on Sunday February 12, live on Sky Sports; kick-off 2pm.