LEEDS UNITED’S unpredictable season took another twist as first half goals from Chris Wood and Tom Adeyemi set up a nervy 2-1 win against high-flying Championship visitors Hull City at Elland Road.
The Whites led 2-0 at the interval but then put home fans through the wringer by conceding to an Ahmed Elmohamady header just six minutes into the second half.
But even the introduction of former Leeds favourite Robert Snodgrass failed to spark a Tigers equaliser as United moved six points clear of the bottom three.
Whites head coach Steve Evans made just one change to his starting line up with Adeyemi replacing Mirco Antenucci as part a 4-5-1 system that saw Chris Wood used as a sole striker.
Centre back and captain Sol Bamba was again absent due to his fractured toe with Gaetano Berardi serving the second game of a reduced two match ban.
Hull, meanwhile, were missing top scorer Abel Hernandez through injury, and you could tell.
United had the game’s first chance after just one minute when Andrew Robertson hacked down Stuart Dallas for a right sided free kick which Alex Mowatt curled straight at Allan McGregor.
But Hull hit back by winning their first corner from which Alex Bruce squeezed in a shot from a tight angle which hit the outside of the right post.
After a quiet five minutes, Moses Odubajo then whipped in a dangerous right flank cross which just evaded the onrushing Hull forwards including Sone Aluko and sailed out of play.
Stuart Dallas then fired a 20-yard effort well wide for United with Odubajo then blazing over at the other end for Hull.
Leeds were then awarded a free kick 30 yards out which from which Giuseppe Bellusci’s raking effort was easily saved, after which Mohamed Diame blazed over for the Tigers.
And as the all important 17th minute approached, quick feet from Alex Mowatt won United a free kick on the edge of the area which the midfielder blasted into the wall before the ball was cleared.
Cue the 17th minute and the alleged ‘pie tax’ protest and walk out which appeared to feature merely a handful of folk heading for the exits, hardly the exodus that was talked of.
Back on the pitch, Hull were then dealt a blow when Bruce pulled up with an ankle injury and had to be subbed for Curtis Davies after 21 minutes.
For Leeds, Wood then fired a long range effort straight at McGregor after which United were handed their best chance yet when Adeyemi was played clean through but took an age to pull the trigger before shooting wide.
At the other end, another Hull corner caused a spot of panic with United bizarrely having every player in the Hull area and struggling to clear.
And Sam Clucas was then inches away from latching on to a fine right flank cross with Marco Silvestri’s goal gaping.
But Leeds were also casuing problems of their own and after 30 minutes Wood brought the Elland Road house down with a classy opening goal.
Lewis Cook fed Dallas on the ring wing who produced a beautiful cross for the striker to flick the ball past McGregor before racing to salute the delighted South Stand.
Hull looked rocked and just moments later United went agonisingly close to bagging a second when Mowatt won possession in midfield before producing a 25-yard effort which rattled the bar with McGregor beaten all ends up.
And after Andrew Robertson had shot straight at Silvestri, Hull’s half was summed up by a 37th-minute free-kick which caused a serious case of crossed wires as the ball meandered out of play for a goal kick.
For the Tigers, it was becoming one of those afternoons and United’s day then got even better when Adeyemi doubled the home side’s lead from the second of two corners.
Mowatt’s second corner was headed out to Lewis Cook who produced a stinging low shot that McGregor could only parry to the feet of Adeyemi who atoned for his earlier miss by burying the ball home on the stroke of half-time.
The home faithful were almost rubbing their eyes in disbelief as they dished out a rendition of “you should have gone Christmas shopping” to the visiting Tigers contingent.
And Hull failed to cut any ice in two minutes of injury time from which Robertson hacked the ball into the Kop.
Neither bosses made any changes at half-time with the second half beginning with Aluko fizzing a dangerous cross into the United area which evaded all comers.
And that attack set the tone for a Hull onslaught which soon led to Elmohamady putting them back in the game with a 51st-minute header.
Leeds were sitting far too deep for their own good and Clucas produced an inviting cross from the left flank which Elmohamady simply nodded past Silvestri to make it 2-1.
With only six minutes of the second half gone, United’s fans feared the worst but moments later Leeds’ appeals for a penalty were waved away after Cook was pushed over in the area.
Cook was incensed with the decision and raced half the length of the pitch to win the ball back but was himself booked for his late tackle on Odubajo.
Tomn Huddlestone then blazed over for Hull but United did well to stem the tide with Livermore’s effort from range easily saved by Silvestri.
But Bridcutt then caused panic stations by losing the ball in midfield, after which Hull countered with Diame forcing a fantastic one-handed save from Silvestri who then moments later denied Livermore amidst a goalmouth scramble.
With still 20 minutes left, for Leeds it was getting desperate with Bruce then bringing on Chuba Akpom for Harry Maguire.
Evans then decided to withdraw Mowatt for Byram who was greeted by huge cheers and chants of “only one Sam Byram” with 17 minutes left.
But Leeds were not helping themselves with Silvestri’s spooned clearance instigating another Hull attack with 14 minutes to go.
From a Robertson cross, Akpom then headed just wide after which Evans brought off Dallas for Luke Murphy with ten minutes left.
And Bruce then introduced former Leeds favourite Snodgrass one minute later with the Scot given a healthy applause in coming on for Aluko.
Those changes helped wind the clock down but Hull were soon back on the attack with Elmohamady’s effort deflected narrowly wide for an 85th-minute corner which was cleared.
Odubajo’s wild cross then afforded United some relief as the clock continued to head for 90 minutes.
But you sensed Hull would get at least one more decent chance and it fell to Akpom who managed to put a free header wide from about five yards out after a fine delivery from Snodgrass.
It was to prove Hull’s final chance with Adeyemi booked for a late lunge and Evans then winding the clock down by bringing on Souleymane Doukara for Wood who left to a standing ovation.
Referee Chris Kavanagh then managed to find five minutes of injury time which were not good for the heart rate but Leeds actually saw out time impressively and ended with an attack of their own.
And after nearly six minutes of added time Kavanagh finally blew for full time to give United a victory that few would have predicted as the unpredictable plot continued at Elland Road.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Dallas (Murphy 80), Adeyemi, Cook, Bridcutt, Mowatt (Byram 73), Wood (Doukara 90). Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Botaka, Erwin, Antenucci.
Hull City: McGregor, Odubajo, Bruce (Davies 19), Huddlestone, Clucas, Maguire (Akpom 70), Livermore, Diamé, Aluko (Snodgrass 81), Robertson, Elmohamady. Subs not used: Jakupović, Taylor, Hayden, Luer.
Referee: Chris Kavanagh.
Attendance: 24,962 (2,591 away fans).