LEEDS United gave themselves just the boost they needed ahead of Wednesday night’s FA Cup replay with Arsenal when they banged in four goals without reply against Scunthorpe in the Npower Championship.
Three goals in 12 first half minutes from Sanchez Watt, Max Gradel and Bradley Johnson had the game won early and after a few near misses they added one more after the break when the in-form Gradel set up substitute Davide Somma for his eighth of the season.
Manager Simon Grayson was pleased with the effort and application shown by the players as they put the big date with the Gunners to the back of their mind and quickly got a grip of a game that had banana skin written on it before kick-off.
Jonathan Forte did hit the crossbar for Scunthorpe with a shot that deflected off Alex Bruce, but it was all over by then and the visitors did not make Kasper Schmeichel make a serious save in the full 90 minutes.
Leeds should have certainly added more to their tally and Billy Paynter could not believe his luck as he met a Gradel cross with a goal bound shot only to see his own team-mate, Somma, inadvertently stop the ball on the way into the net.
Another of the substitutes, Ross McCormack, was also left still without a goal for the Whites as he failed to beat keeper Joe Murphy on a one-on-one while Watt was denied when clean through and Gradel had a goal bound shot blocked at the last second.
But this was as comfortable a it has been this season in any game for the Whites and Grayson was a happy man afterwards.
He said: “I’m delighted with individual performances, but predominantly with the team and how hard we worked.
“On another day we could have had six or seven goals, but it was great to have a victory and a clean sheet.
“When you go 3-0 up with early goals it gives you a platform to win the game, but we did the other side of the game really well.
“We knew it was going to be a tough game against Scunthorpe, who are fighting for their lives. We knew they’d work hard and close us down but we did that to them.
“We won possession of the ball and then showed some good quality and made the right options and got some very good goals.”
Grayson looked ahead to a big night at Elland Road on Wednesday with Arsenal in town.
He added: “It`s a great opportunity for us. We earned the rights at the Emirates last week when we got a result and bring them back to a full house.
“It`s going to be a fantastic atmosphere and we`ll be the underdogs because Arsenal are a great team and have some great players, but we will go out and enjoy it again.”
Leeds United 4
(Watt 17, Gradel 20, Johnson 29, Somma 89)
Scunthorpe United 0
Saturday, January 15, 2011
Leeds: Schmeichel, Connolly, Bruce, O’Brien, McCartney, Snodgrass (McCormack 67), Howson, Johnson, Gradel, Watt (Somma 81), Becchio (Paynter 45).
Scunthorpe: Murphy, Wright, Raynes, Reid, Nolan, Dagnell (Godden 77), Togwell, Ibrahim, Woolford, Collins, Grant (Forte 59).
Referee: Fred Graham.
Picture above shows Max Gradel going past Scunthorpe goalkeeper Joe Murphy to score Leeds United’s second goal.
PHOTO: IAN HARBER