TOWN Reserves lost their unbeaten record and the league leadership as Andy Robinson inspired Leeds to a 3-0 victory at the Galpharm Stadium last night.
A crowd of 1,284 – all but 154 of them wanting to see Town close in on the totesport.com East Division title – watched Robinson rule the roost with a super strike of his own and two assists for Tom Elliott goals.
Leeds were helped by an abysmal first-half display from Town which miserably lacked energy, direction and organisation and left the visitors well en route to a two-point lead in the standings with just two matches to go.
Town re-shaped from 4-1-4-1 to a more steady 4-4-2 formation in the second half and ought to have had at least one goal – the unmarked Lionel Ainsworth missing an easy eight-yard header from Dominik Werling’s 47th-minute cross.
Had the wingman (who was moved up front alongside Dave Heagney in the re-jig) netted at that stage it could have put a whole new complexion on the contest, but Leeds soon recovered their composure and their keeper, David Lucas, was tested just once more when turning an Aiden Chippendale effort into the side netting 13 minutes from time.
It was disappointing for Town, although Paul Stephenson’s side were up against it from the moment Elliott took advantage of Robinson’s terrific cross to score their opener with a close-range header with just seven minutes on the clock.
Leeds used all the experience of Robinson, Frazer Richardson, Andy Hughes, Lubo MIchalik, David Prutton and Bradley Johnson to make Town do the chasing and establish control, and had it not been for the sharpness of keeper Simon Eastwood, Town could have been staring at an embarrassing scoreline by the break.
Robinson chipped onto the roof of the net after robbing Jack Hunt of possession and then, barely 60 seconds later, the former Tranmere and Swansea midfielder scooted past several would-be tacklers only to see his low drive denied by the feet of Eastwood.
Town’s keeper also made two fine last-ditch saves at the feet of forward Mike Grella as Leeds carved through the home rearguard with alarming ease, but there was nothing he could do with Robinson’s 36th-minute thunderbolt after a Liam Ridehalgh pass had gone astray.
While James Berrett tried his best to get Town going and the half-time re-shuffle did some good, they needed the boost of a goal to lift spirits and the crowd and Ainsworth’s miss just after the re-start proved a big bonus for Leeds.
Robinson, outstanding at this level, Elliott and Prutton all went close while Ian Craney fired in a few late efforts for Town after being moved up front following the introduction of 17-year-old midfielder Chris Atkinson on 70 minutes.
Atkinson’s willingness to show for the ball was a credit, as was the effort to get involved of 16-year-old winger Ryan Watson, making only his second senior appearance from the bench.
Leeds still had a strong finish in them, however, and not surprisingly it was Robinson who supplied the ammunition with a brilliant through ball for Elliott to notch again.
Town – Eastwood, Hunt (Watson 75mins), Werling, Holdsworth, Ridehalgh, Lucketti, Ainsworth (Atkinson 70), Berrett, Heagney, Craney, Chippendale (Nightingale 83). Not used: Pickering, Collinson.