LAST season’S top scorer Kemar Roofe bagged the only goal of the game in Leeds United’s final pre-season friendly against Las Palmas as the Whites prepared to unearth a new striker in Patrick Bamford.
United’s long drawn-out quest to land a new forward looks set to end imminently with Bamford undergoing a medical today with a view to a £7m move from Middlesbrough.
As Bamford prepared to arrive in Leeds, last season’s top scorer Roofe was chosen to lead the Whites’ line in the club’s final pre-season friendly, against Spanish Segunda Division side Las Palmas at Elland Road.
Roofe was used as a striker, a winger and a No 10 last season and insisted last week that it did not matter to him where he played in the side.
Bamford is clearly being signed as the club’s new No 9, but it was last season’s main goal-gatherer Roofe who was responsible for sinking Las Palmas as a new-look Whites defence also passed their Spanish assignment with flying colours.
New Whites head coach Marcelo Bielsa had to do without three key players with new left-back Barry Douglas not starting training until today as he returned to the Midlands yesterday to say his farewells to former colleagues at Wolves.
Talisman centre-back Pontus Jansson was still missing following his exploits with Sweden in the World Cup while United midfielder Adam Forshaw was another absentee after feeling discomfort in his toe in training on Friday.
Without Forshaw, Jansson and Douglas, and with Chelsea loanees Lewis Baker and Jamal Blackman only making the bench, United’s starting XI looked similar to the side that finished last season under Paul Heckingbottom in personnel.
Yet Bielsa’s Leeds lined up in a very different fashion with ‘midfielder’ Kalvin Phillips partnering captain Liam Cooper and Gaetano Berardi at centre-back as part of a new look defence that will clearly feature Jansson on his return.
United did get lucky with Las Palmas extremely unfortunate to see two almost identical free-kicks from Fidel both hitting the crossbar.
But that aside United’s new-look back line coped easily with everything that Las Palmas threw at them with Leeds only lacking a creative spark to break down their Spanish visitors repeatedly.
After Roofe put United’s best chance wide on the stretch from a Luke Ayling cross in the first half the game looked destined to end in a goalless draw that might have been seen as an appropriate result given the impending arrival of Bamford.
Yet Roofe had the final say four minutes from time when last season’s top scorer forced in a corner taken by Hernandez, whose delivery was nodded down by Phillips to find Roofe towards the far post.
The 25-year-old then turned two defenders with some neat footwork before producing a rising finish in front of the Kop to sign off pre-season in readiness for next Sunday’s encounter with title favourites Stoke City, newly relegated from the Premier League, at Elland Road.