Leeds United bow out of EFL Trophy in eight-goal thriller at Salford City
The Whites went ahead in the 5-3 defeat at Moor Lane but a disappointing defensive performance proved the visitors undoing in the Group B clash.
Mark Jackson took a strong squad across the Pennines as Joe Gelhardt, Charlie Cresswell, Sam Greenwood and Stuart McKinstry all featured.
It was another of the rising Thorp Arch stars though who opened the scoring on the night as Max Dean struck to begin what was a frantic first half.
The 17-year-old found the back of the net inside 10 minutes with a cool finish from inside the box after good pressure from Gelhardt on the right.
By the time the match reached the half hour mark Leeds were behind in a quick turnaround.
Brandon Thomas-Asante and Ibou Touray put Gary Bowyer's men in front though Sam Greenwood levelled to leave the game finely-poised.
United failed to hold on until the half-time interval as Armide Oteh gave the hosts a slender advantage at the break.
Leeds were punished for some sloppy defending at the back throughout and conceded again on the hour to another Thomas-Asante goal.
Substitute Lewis Bate handed the Thorp Arch outfit a lifeline with a stunning solo effort as he broke away from the halfway line to lift a shot into the back of the net.
Salford, though, restored the two-goal cushion from a set-piece just 120 seconds later as Jordan Turnball fired a loose ball home to end any hopes of a comeback.
With the defeat Jackson's side crashed out of the EFL Trophy, having needed to pick up points to have any chance of qualification for the knockout stages.
Leeds return to Premier League 2 action on Saturday as they take on arch rivals Manchester United at Leigh Sports Village.
Salford City: Ripley (Jeacock 67), Love, Touray, Wright, Willock (Denny 52), Turnbull, Oteh, Golden, Smith, Shephard (Brandon 59), Thomas-Asante. Subs: Lund, Elliott, Morris.
Leeds United U21s: Van Den Heuvel, Miller, Gelhardt (McGurk 45), Cresswell (Kenneh 45), McKinstry, Greenwood, McCarron, Jenkins (Bate 45), Dean, Moore, Mullen. Subs: Christy, Allen, Hughes, Sutcliffe.