Two goals from Ryan Hall, a header from Ross Killock, and one from Republic of Ireland international Noel Hunt helped Brian McDermott’s Leeds United to a workmanlike 4-0 victory over Shelbourne, watched by 2,177 at Tolka Park.
Two of the former Reading manager’s signings were given a run out, with his former charge at the Majeski Stadium, Noel Hunt, joining Matt Smith in the line-up. It was the former Oldham Athletic striker who almost opened the scoring in the third minute when his header flew just over.
Shelbourne, for their part, were forced into a late change, with Alex Prizeman coming in for Sean Brennan in midfield. A bright opening from both sides saw home midfielder Stephen Hurley stinging the palms of Alex Cairns in the Leeds goal in the sixth minute as both sides revelled passing the ball in the Drumcondra sunshine.
Noel Hunt almost had reason to celebrate his trip home in the 12th minute when he got in behind the home defence, but Brian Shortall quickly closed the door on the Irish international. He didn’t have to wait long though. On the quarter hour, Chris Dawson picked up the ball for Leeds in midfield and his wonderfully flighted overhead ball was complimented by Hunt’s finding of space in the home penalty area. The Waterford man showed excellent technique to calmly lob the ball over Lee Murphy in the Shelbourne goal.
The Yorkshiremen were snapping like terriers in midfield now and Austin almost doubled their lead less than two minutes later but his effort hit the upright. Leeds continued to look the more polished in midfield and Ryan Hall doubled the lead in the 28th minute, prospering from some great play from Hunt again. His marauding run at the Shels defence gave him time to hold up the ball expertly and provide Hall with the time and space to drill home from just inside the home penalty area.
Shelbourne were feeding off scraps in midfield but one hopeful long ball from Sean Brennan in the 34th minute saw Lee Murtagh force Leeds keeper Alex Cairns to make a rare foray out of his area.
Shelbourne made a host of changes in the second half, but it was Leeds who continued to look the more incisive, and added to their tally in the 61st minute, when a corner from the right was flicked on by Smith for defender Ross Killock to head home. With the Championship kicking off this weekend, Hunt was called ashore shortly afterwards for Lewis Walters and seconds later, Hall almost got his second of his night but his long range effort was narrowly wide.
Hall finally got his second and Leeds’ fourth on the night when a first time cross field pass found him in space after he left his marker for dead and calmly lofted the ball over Burdon in the 76th minute.
With six minutes to go, Leeds midfielder Zac Thompson produced one of the most memorable moments of the match when, from a throw in, his barnstorming run and close control saw him ghost past three Shelbourne players, only for him to screw his shot just over the home crossbar.
Leeds will now look forward to their big kick-off against Brighton Hove & Albion on Saturday, while Shelbourne will hope to take positives from this game as they seek to improve their position of fourth from bottom in the Airtricity League.