Sky Bet Championship: Leeds United 2 Barnsley 1

LEEDS United’s rookies are giving the Elland Road hierarchy plenty to think about when it comes to planning for next season in the Sky Bet Championship.

Solid performances by defenders Tom Pearce and Paudie O’Connor and former York City goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell in Saturday’s 2-1 home win against relegation-threatened Barnsley suggest that they could be elevated to the first team squad on a more regular basis next term.

The young trio have done well in the fag end of a disappointing campaign and, although they only have a handful of appearances between them, they look as they could have roles to play in 2018-19.

They may not be the complete answer to United’s troubles but their emergence may save the club some money when it comes to wheeling and dealing in the summer.

The squad is in need of an overhaul as the recruitment of overseas players has, by and large, not added enough quality to the team.

Three stars of last season – Chris Wood, Charlie Taylor and Kyle Bartley – have not been adequately replaced, and that has been reflected in the club’s mid-table position.

Fortunately, Leeds’ Academy still manage to produce players.

In addition to the aforementioned trio, graduates Ronaldo Viera and Kalvin Phillips also completed the 90 minutes against the Tykes.

The Whites were rewarded for a positive start when 20-year-old left-back Pearce, in only his third appearance, latched on to a loose ball on 18 minutes, drove forward into space and drilled a grass-cutter past Adam Davies.

Barnsley drew level before the interval after a decent spell, with O’Connor deflecting a Zeki Fryers’ cross into his own net.

It could have got worse for Leeds but for a brilliant save by Peacock-Farrell to deny Connor Mahoney.

Whatever Paul Heckingbottom said at half-time, it had the desired effect as Leeds resumed on the front foot against his former club.

Just five minutes after the re-start, Kemar Roofe slipped past Matt Mills to set up up Gianni Alioski’s close-range finish.

Leeds had chances to kill the game off on the counter-attack but too often were let down by bad decision-making or poor execution.

Barnsley still posed a threat.

Oli McBurnie had an equaliser chalked off for offside and substitute Keiffer Moore somehow missed from point-blank range, while Adam Hammill was booked for diving in the box following a challenge from stand-in right back Matthew Pennington.

Heckingbottom – the subject of much attention before and during the match after his switch from Oakwell to Leeds in February - did not attend the post-match press conference, with assistant Jamie Clapham standing in.

“The game summed up our season,” said Clapham.

“The first 15, 20 minutes we were exceptional – we played really fast and were on the front foot. Then we got the goal and for some unknown reason we just switched off.

“You can see the equaliser was coming for them and then at half-time we had to have strong words. We got the goal and controlled large periods again then. Towards the end it was a real battle and we had to man up and do everything you need to get results.”

Leeds United: Peacock-Farrell, Pennington, Jansson, O’Connor, Pearce, Phillips, Vieira, Alioski (Ekbban 70), Hernandez, Saiz (Forshaw 83), Roofe. Subs (not used): Lonergan, Cooper, Anita, Lasogga, Sacko. Caution: Vieira.

Barnsley: Davies, Yiadom, Mills (Hedges 81), Lindsay, Fryers, Gardner, Potts, Mahoney (Moore 61), Hammill, McBurnie, Bradshaw (Moncur 78). Subs (not used): McCarthy, Cavare, Pinnock, Walton.

Referee: Stephen Martin (Staffordshire). 

Attendance: 30,451.