Joel Piroe showing why he can become the Championship's version of Chuba Akpom in 2023-24 - final word on win against Bristol City
Keeping in the coffee theme, it was a day in which Bristol City failed to wake up and smell it. A 2-1 win for Leeds hinted at a bit of a grind; in truth, it wasn’t.
The final instalments in three-game Championship weeks can be hard going physically and mentally. Daniel Farke’s side, who are coming nicely to the boil, suggested otherwise, despite a slightly nervy finale which was unnecessary.
Leeds mustered 21 efforts on goal, of which eight were on target. They should have scored more than two goals, but didn’t. But after each passing chance, they came back for more.
Their standard of performance across the pitch was strong and reassuring. As the nights draw in and tables take shape, that separates the contenders from the wanabees.
There was the sight of a fine young player in Archie Gray displaying another string to his bow and further enhancing his reputation with a highly proficient display at right-back for instance.
An ‘inverted’ right-back, strictly speaking. A late decision to switch Gray yielded autumn fruit.
He saw off one of the Championship’s most talked-about emerging talents in Sam Bell in consummate fashion.
On the opposite side of the backline, Sam Byram put his hand up in his third start in a week - something he has not done in a good while either.
A super late block to deny Andi Weimann coupled with a key clearance off the line to keep out the faintest of headers from Rob Dickie was the sort of thing that does not go unnoticed with managers and it didn’t. Farke misses nothing.
His ‘Welsh warrior’ in Joe Rodon was commanding, while the captain’s armband sat nicely on the shoulders of Pascal Struijk.
Dan James got the goal he wanted, his first on home soil since January 2022. By contrast, Crysencio Summerville missed a couple of presentable opportunities, but still unnerved the visitors continually.
Georginio Rutter’s Elland Road love-in continued with Leeds supporters, despite a scarcely believable miss. That was bad, but there was a lot more which was good.
Across the park, there were substantial contributions, something which all serious promotion aspirants require. Although you need a sprinkling of stardust.
It’s something that Leeds most definitely have in the shape of a natural born finisher in Joel Piroe.
Farke embarked on a lengthy 13-minute explanation as to why the Dutchman will remain in the ‘ten’ role ahead of this fixture.
The only number that currently matters regarding Piroe is seven - and not just because it is his shirt number.
His seventh goal in 12 Leeds appearances was cool and unerring. A move which was worked well and patiently by Summerville, Ethan Ampadu and Glen Kamara got the requisite finish which it merited.
Last season, a player operating in his deep-lying but deadly position in Chuba Akpom ripped up the Championship.
Piroe possesses the tantalising potential to do the same this time around.
Gushing by his standards, Farke said: “You can’t learn this, he’s an instinctive finisher.
“He knows where he has to be at the edge of the box and then produced this instinctive finish through the defender’s legs, so the goalkeeper can’t see this. It’s a natural gift and I praise him for this gift.”
Piroe was understandably pleased as well.
He commented: “That’s what I always try to be, to be calm, composed in front of the goal, take your time, assess the situation and how much time you have of course.
“If you know you have time and space, then don’t rush it. Better to do it neatly.
"I enjoy playing here, the energy from the crowd is amazing, winning our duels and winning games and that’s the important thing.”
You have to go back to the end of United’s promotion season in 2019-20 for the last occasion that the hosts won three successive league games at home.
All told at this level, they are unbeaten in 14. Elland Road is back to being a tough old gig for visitors and its power is being harnessed again.
An incredible miss from Rutter, who somehow skied a chance over from a few yards out following Summerville's cross-shot looked like being the talking point in the first half before James took away the sting, finishing rather more steadily.
Rutter's list of assists is burgeoning, if not his goals total. He had another one here.
Leeds rather spoiled it by letting Kai Naismith nod in the softest of levellers seconds before the break. No bother, their players didn't get mad, but even.
Piroe's class then shone and Summerville went close to a third when Max O'Leary turned his shot against the bar. Chances came and went, frustratingly.
But the validity of Leeds's victory was never in doubt.
Leeds United: Meslier; Gray, Rodon, Struijk, Byram; Ampadu, Kamara (Ayling 90+3); D James (Anthony 78), Piroe (Gruev 90+3), Summerville (Cooper 90+3); Rutter (Bamford 82). Unused substitutes: Darlow, Cresswell, Poveda, Gelhardt.
Bristol City: O’Leary; Gardner-Hickman (Conway 59), Dickie, Naismith, Pring; M James, Knight (Weimann 67), Williams (King 59); Sykes, Wells (Cornick 30), Bell (Mehmeti 67). Unused substitutes: Bajic, Roberts, Yeboah, Nelson.
Referee: K Stroud (Hants).