Match report: Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 0 - Sharp grabs debut winner

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Billy Sharp struck in the dying minutes to cap his Leeds United debut with a dramatic winner against Middlesbrough.

The striker - a midweek signing from Southampton - popped up to tap home the rebound from Michael Tonge’s shot and settle a tight contest on 88 minutes.

A game of few chances looked set to end in stalemate at Elland Road, with Boro aggrieved about a disallowed effort from Albert Adomah midway through the first half.

But Sharp delighted a crowd of less than 25,000 with a poacher’s goal in front of the Kop.

The striker and Liam Cooper were handed full debuts by David Hockaday after joining Leeds on Wednesday, and Sharp could have scored with his first touch of the ball.

Nicky Ajose played him clean through in the second minute and though goalkeeper Tomas Mejias dived in to block his effort, Ajose wasted a good chance on the rebound by stroking a week shot against Daniel Ayala on the line.

They were rare opportunities in a first half which Boro dominated initially without cutting Leeds open but the visitors thought they had gone in front when Adomah buried an overhead kick on 25 minutes.

The winger pounced after Jason Pearce and Liam Cooper failed to deal with a throw-in but referee Stuart Attwell appeared to penalise Adomah for a high foot, a decision which Boro protested angrily.

Ayala then nodded a free header wide as Grant Leadbetter swung a corner into the box but Leeds responded with a low effort from Bianchi which Mejias held and an off-target volley from Sam Byram.

United saw more and more of the game as the interval approached but it took a brilliant sliding tackle from Stephen Warnock to deny Adomah in injury-time after Leadbitter picked him out with a clever pass.

The contest became increasingly tight and nervous in the second half and a half-hearted penalty shout from Sam Byram after a challenge by Kenneth Omeruo was the only moment of note before the hour.

Sharp might have snatched a winner 11 minutes from time but headed beyond the far post as Luke Murphy’s free-kick dropped to him six yards from goal, but the forward could not be denied when Mejias spilled Tonge’s drive and left an open goal behind him.

Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Murphy, Bianchi, Austin (Cook 86), Ajose (Poleon 75), Sharp, Doukara (Tonge 53). Subs (not used): S Taylor, C Taylor, Wootton, Smith.

Middlesbrough: Mejias, Leadbitter, Omeruo, Tomlin (L Williams 85), Abella, Reach (Nsue 75), Ayala, Kike, Adomah, Friend, Whitehead (Clayton 60). Subs (not used): Konstantopoulos, Husband, Fewster, Woodgate.

Kyle Bartley

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