New signing Billy Sharp instantly paid off a slice of his transfer fee as he came up with a late winner on his debut to give Leeds United their first points of the season in the Sky Bet Championship.
A goalless draw looked on the cards until the 88th minute when Michael Tonge got a low shot in from just outside the box and Middlesbrough keeper Tomas Mejias could only parry. In like lightning was Sharp to score a classic poacher’s goal from the rebound and a 1-0 win was secured for the Whites.
Leeds just about edged a largely disappointing game and Sharp came close to a hat-trick just three days after putting pen to paper on a two-year deal with United.
But the Whites were also fortunate not to concede in the first half when Albert Adomah’s spectacular overhead kick was ruled out by the linesman for dangerous play with Stephen Warnock looking to head the ball clear for Leeds.
More often than not this type of goal would be allowed and it proved a real turning point as Middlesbrough had been the better team up to this point, but rarely threatened as the game went on.
United did have a great chance in the very first minute as Mejias had to be alert to deny Sharp as he ran onto a through ball. He could only clear as far as Nicky Ajose, but the Leeds forward’s first time shot was cleared off the line.
The visitors were quicker to settle into their stride, however, although they struggled to create chances with their best effort being a Grant Leadbitter shot from the edge of the box that went wide before the disallowed “goal” that proved a key decision.
Daniel Ayala headed wide from a corner soon after before Leeds finally looked a threat up front with Tommaso Bianchi forcing a decent save from Mejias with a low shot from outside the box, Sam Byram dragging a shot wide from the edge of the area and Bianchi failing to get much contact on a header when well placed.
Bianchi headed wide from a corner before Boro created a great chance just before the break, Adomah latching onto Leadbitter’s mis-hit shot only to be denied by a superb block from Warnock.
Little happened early in the second half before another well timed tackle by Warnock denied visitors’ striker Kike in the box.
Leeds created nothing until the 78th minute when Mejias flapped at a Luke Murphy free-kick, but Sharp headed just wide.
Sharp then almost latched onto a long ball off a Bianchi block tackle only for Mejias to just clear, but it came out of the blue when United came up with their 88th minute winner.
Five minutes of added time gave Middlesbrough a chance to hit back, but they fashioned just one half chance when Kike fired wide from the edge of the box and it was comfortable enough for Leeds to see out time for their first league win of the campaign.
Leeds head coach David Hockaday was naturally pleased to make a winning start in his first home league game in charge at Elland Road.
He said: “It’s a good start. I’m delighted with the result and the clean sheet against a top team. The boys worked so hard and everybody should be so proud of their efforts.
“We had seven changes to Tuesday night and had to make more when Souleymane Doukara had to come off after a bad challenge. But the boys responded to the changes we made.
“We are a work in progress and need to strengthen, but I’m happy with the way things are going.”
Leeds United 1
Saturday, August 16, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Murphy, Austin (Cook 86), Bianchi, Doukara (Tonge 53), Sharp, Ajose (Poleon 75).
Middlesbrough: Mejias, Abella, Ayala, Omeruo, Friend, Adomah, Leadbitter, Whitehead (Clayton 60), Reach (Nsue 75), Tomlin (Williams 85), Kike.
Referee: Stuart Attwell.