Cruise for Leeds as pressure mounts on Jones

Leeds crushed rock-bottom Stoke 3-0 at the Bet365 Stadium to retain their place at the top of the Sky Bet Championship and pile further pressure on manager Nathan Jones.

Despite Jones making six changes following his side’s dismal 3-1 defeat at Preston last time out, including dropping England goalkeeper Jack Butland to the bench after conceding 10 goals this season from just 14 shots on target, Stoke had no answer to Leeds’ pace, power and panache.

All three goals from Stuart Dallas just before the break and then Ezgjan Alioski and Patrick Bamford in the second half were beautifully crafted and finished, with Jones’ record now standing at just four wins from 25 matches in charge since taking over in January.

Butland’s replacement Adam Federici, making his seventh appearance and second in the league since a free transfer move from Bournemouth last July, was first called on after 11 minutes, saving a low, 22-yard right-foot curler from Mateusz Klich, and then producing a superb stop to deny Leeds skipper Pablo Hernandez four minutes later.

The Leeds chances continued, with Dallas fizzing a right-foot drive from 25 yards narrowly past the post after being teed up by Kalvin Phillips, while a 20-yard shot on the turn from Bamford was curled wide.

Three minutes from the interval the visitors deservedly grabbed the lead, carving open Stoke’s defence with a series of one-touch passes involving Adam Forshaw, Bamford and Hernandez, with the latter feeding Dallas who comfortably slid the ball home past Federici from 12 yards for his first goal of the season.

After an opening half without a noteworthy effort, Stoke at least started the second period with a couple of chances, initially via a Peter Etebo drive that was deflected wide for a corner from which a Liam Lindsay header at least forced Kiko Casilla to punch clear.

Any hope, though, of a Stoke revival was over in the 50th minute when another incisive exchange of passes involving Hernandez and Bamford culminated in the striker’s slide-rule ball into the six-yard box being tapped home by Alioski.

Shots from Jack Harrison, Klich and Hernandez then all whistled past Federici’s right-hand post as Leeds sought a third which arrived in the 66th minute, with Hernandez the instigator with a long cut-throat ball into the feet of Alioski running on into the area.

Although his acutely-angled shot was blocked by Federici, Bamford swiftly pounced on the rebound to half-volley home his fourth of the season from the corner of the six-yard box.

It should have been 4-0 in the 82nd minute but Federici brilliantly tipped wide to his right a stunning strike from substitute Helder Costa, on two minutes earlier, after another sublime set of one-touch passes around the area.

In the final minute, Federici again denied Leeds a fourth with a point-blank save from Forshaw, with the result at the final whistle resulting in boos and cries of ‘Rubbish!’ from those Stoke fans who had stayed to the bitter end.