Leeds avoided another FA Cup upset by winning 3-1 at Accrington to reach the fifth round for just the fourth time in 20 years.
Jack Harrison’s stunning strike gave the Premier League side an interval lead and two goals in as many second-half minutes from Junior Firpo and Luis Sinisterra killed the tie.
But it was not all plain sailing for Jesse Marsch’s side and Sky Bet League One side Accrington deservedly pulled one back through teenage substitute Leslie Adekoya’s first senior goal.
But Leeds, dumped out of the cup by the likes of Hereford, Histon, Rochdale, Sutton, Newport and Crawley in recent years, had too much quality for their hosts and reached the last 16 for the first time in seven years.
The opening exchanges were fast and furious. Accrington skipper Sean McConville stung Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier’s palms with a 25-yard drive and Shaun Whalley was denied by Max Wober’s lunging tackle.
Leeds record signing Georginio Rutter almost made a dream start on his first appearance for the club, dragging a low left-footed shot inches wide with his first real touch.
Accrington made it uncomfortable for the visitors. McConville launched another rocket and Whalley threatened at the near post, with both efforts held by Meslier.
But Leeds took a 23rd-minute lead with the game’s first moment of real quality when Harrison lashed home a blistering drive into the bottom corner after some neat build-up.
Stanley responded well. Brentford loanee Aaron Pressley’s angled shot was saved by Meslier, who fumbled Whalley’s dangerous ball into the box soon after.
Leeds almost doubled their lead through Sinisterra, whose long-range effort crashed against a post – replays showed Toby Savin got his fingers to it – but Jesse Marsch’s side had Meslier to thank for keeping them in front when he kept out Ethan Hamilton’s shot.
Accrington spurned a golden chance to equalise moments after the restart when Harvey Rodgers – a lifelong Leeds fan – failed to get his shot on target at the far post following McConville’s free-kick.
Rodgers stabbed another chance wide after Meslier spilled Doug Tharme’s long throw.
Leeds wasted two chances of their own in quick succession just after the hour mark as Bamford and Sinisterra fired off target.
But Leeds then put the tie to bed with two goals in as many minutes. Bamford brilliantly teed up Firpo to drill home his first goal for the club and another free-flowing move ended with Sinisterra’s thumping finish from Harrison’s pass.
Savin denied Leeds a fourth when keeping out substitute Rodrigo’s shot as Leeds threatened to overrun their hosts.
But John Coleman’s side went down fighting and deservedly reduced the deficit in the 81st minute when Adekoya swept home Seb Quirk’s pass from six yards.