Butland impresses but Leeds United draw a blank

Luke Murphy, who went closest to a goal for Leeds United at Middlesbrough.
Luke Murphy, who went closest to a goal for Leeds United at Middlesbrough.

New signing Jack Butland made an impressive debut and kept a clean sheet, but there was little else for Leeds United fans to enthuse over in a dour goalless draw at Middlesbrough.

Goalkeeper Butland was not over-worked by a Middlesbrough side that has now gone more than 10 hours of football since they last scored a goal, but did make a spectacular-looking tip over in the first half and a top class save after the break to be quickly out to deny Albert Adomah.

While Boro had marginally the better of it a point was all either side deserved as they failed to create many chances and too much of the football appeared aimless.

Leeds managed only one effort on goal in the first half, a Luke Murphy strike from distance that flashed wide, although they did have a good shout for a penalty turned down when recalled striker Noel Hunt appeared to be taken out before the ball arrived from Cameron Stewart’s cross.

Boro’s only efforts of note were a Kei Kamara header wide from a corner and a Jacob Butterfield volley that was well tipped over by Butland.

The second half started in more lively fashion with Butland forced to make another save when Stephen Warnock turned a George Friend cross towards his own goal.

At the other end, Lee Peltier, in for the injured Sam Byram at right-back, got in behind the home defence to deliver a cross, but Jimmy Kebe could only meet it with a weak header that sent the ball wide.

Boro attacked again and Danny Graham’s overhead kick was comfortably saved by Butland then Graham’s volley on the turn sent the ball over.

Substitute Adomah gave the home attack more threat and within six minutes of coming on got in behind the United defence only for Butland to be out quick as a flash to make a crucial block.

Leeds had an impact sub of their own in Matt Smith, but although he caused concern in the Boro defence the hosts were able to hold on against some late pressure without their keeper, Shay Given, having a single save to make.

Middlesbrough had one last chance in injury-time, but Adomah sliced his shot wide after once again getting in behind the Leeds backline.

This game did not really deserve a late winner and the result did not do any good to either’s teams increasingly remote chances of reaching the play-offs

Middlesbrough 0

Leeds United 0

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Skybet Championship

Att: 20,424

Middlesbrough: Given; Varga, Omeruo, Woodgate, Friend; Main (Adomah 72), Leadbitter, Chalobah. Butterfield (Ledesma 77), Kamara (Tomlin 67); Graham.

Leeds: Butland; Peltier, Pearce, Wootton, Warnock; Kebe, Murphy, Austin, Stewart; Hunt (Smith 82), McCormack.

Referee: Anthony Taylor.