A GOAL in midweek for highly-rated loanee striker Eddie Nketiah on his full Leeds United debut meant the spotlight being on Patrick Bamford today was inevitable
The 25-year-old headed to Wigan Athletic’s DW Stadium with a goal to his name already this term from two league starts
Bamford’s strike on the opening weekend at Bristol City, however, was not the pre-match subject on many Leeds' lips.
Instead, his two misses against Nottingham Forest a week earlier were the talk of the away end - thanks, in the main, to this profligacy allowing the visitors to leave Elland Road with a barely deserved point.
The upshot was many in the 4,500 strong travelling army who made the trip across the Pennines wishing Arsenal loanee Ndiekah had the nod up front from Marcelo Bielsa, who had revealed on Thursday that Bamford would start.
He repaid the Argentinian’s faith with two goals as Leeds triumphed 2-0 in a sometimes stormy clash that saw fighting in the stands and Wigan reduced to ten men by a red card for Joe Williams.
Having already won a free-kick for a tug by Adam Forshaw, the Latics midfielder rather stupidly lunged at Bamford on 20 minutes.
Referee Andy Madley had no hesitation in brandishing a red card at Williams, who had been booked moments earlier for a foul on Stuart Dallas, and the Latics were down to ten men.
The two sets of supporters could have been forgiven for having a sense of deja-vu following the events of Good Friday.
As with today, the Latics were reduced to ten men inside the opening quarter at Elland Road to the fury of manager Paul Cook.
That dismissal for Cedric Kipre galvanised Wigan, who went on to claim a 2-1 victory that did so much to decide the ultimate fate of the respective two clubs come the end of the season.
For Leeds, this meant missing out on automatic promotion. If there is to be a repeat this term, Wigan won’t be the one landing the fatal blow after United this time went on to triumph comfortably.
Bamford’s opener on 34 minutes was a simple affair. He really could not miss after Forshaw’s header from a Mateusz Klich cross had struck the post.
But there had been enough in the striker’s display up to that point to suggest a goal was coming.
Bamford had been lively from the start, particularly off the ball as Leeds broke. His run into space and deft control early on to bring down a Kiko Casilla clearance set the visitors up for an attack that should have brought more than a fluffed opportunity.
The United striker also dragged a shot wide from a right angle on eight minutes, while his willingness to run and run meant Wigan had to sometimes resort to brute force to stop him.
This was the case for Williams, who paid with a red card just a couple of minutes after Bamford had also drawn a free-kick on the edge of the Latics penalty area. Barry Douglas was unable to capitalise, the left back curling his effort just wide.
But Bamford’s presence up front meant there was plenty to concern the home backline.
A second goal for the former Middlesbrough striker followed just after the hour. Again, it was from close range as Bamford forced the ball over the line after Wigan had failed to deal with a corner.
United should have had more goals, the outstanding Forshaw dragging a shot wide and Pablo Hernandez bringing a flying save from David Marshall after Bamford had been fouled on the edge of the area.
But this was still a hugely encouraging day for Leeds and Bamford in the quest to go one better than last term.