Millwall 2 Leeds United 0: Hockaday’s Whites suffer opening day blues

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Leeds United’s opening game of the season ended in defeat as an early strike from Mark Beevers and a late Shaun Williams penalty gave Millwall victory at The Den.

Beevers produced the opening goal on eight minutes to give Millwall control which they rarely relinquished, and Williams sealed the result after Lewis Cook commited a late foul inside his own box.

Leeds saw few chances on a frustrating afternoon and were left to rue Noel Hunt’s failure to find the net with Millwall’s net exposed early in the second half.

Head coach David Hockaday’s intended line-up was disrupted at short notice by an injury to Steve Morison, the former Millwall striker who has returned to favour at Elland Road this summer.

Morison would have started against his old club but his absence made room for Hunt in a team which also included debutants Nicky Ajose and Souleymane Doukara up front.

Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri made his first competitive appearance but was left to fish the ball out of his net after only eight minutes as Leeds started in disappointing fashion.

Beevers appeared unmarked towards the back of Silvestri’s box as Lee Martin lofted a short corner goalwards, and Beevers’ sweeping finish flew past United’s Italian keeper without giving him a chance.

Beevers could have scored again soon afterward when he headed Martyn Woolford’s corner wide from close range and Leeds took until the 41st minute to create their first opening. Luke Murphy pounced on a mistake in midfield, advanced on David Forde’s goal but dragged a poor finish beyond the far post.

Silvestri then denied Alan Dunne by plucking his header from the air after Carlos Edwards dinked a free-kick into the box, and the sound of the half-time whistle gave Leeds a welcome chance to reorganise.

Hockaday’s sid should have been level a minute into the second period when Ajosi took advantage of confusion between Forde and Beevers and crossed to Hunt who shot against Dunne on the goalline.

Silvestri was then called upon to keep Millwalls’ lead down 60 seconds later, diving to parry a rising effort from Martyn Woolford. Ricardo Fuller sliced the rebound high over the crossbar.

The Jamaican striker went closer with a diving header which fizzed past Silvestri’s goal and Millwall saw a strong penalty claim waved away when Murphy tangled with Woolford a yard inside United’s area.

Hockaday threw on Matt Smith and Cook in a bid to snatch something from the match and Smith threatened with a downward header from Sam Byram’s delivery, but Forde’s sharp, one-handed save from substitute Dominic Poleon protected Beevers’ early goal.

And Williams made no mistake from the spot three minutes from time, beating Silvestri after Cook took out Lee Gregory with a mistimed challenge.

Millwall: Forde, Edwards, Dunne, Beevers, Malone, Abdou, Williams, Martin (Gueye 67), McDonald, Woolford (Easter 67), Fuller (Gregory 81). Subs: Bywater, Wright, Briggs, Webster.

Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Wootton, Warnock, Austin, Murphy, Tonge, Ajose (Poleon 80), Hunt (Smith 57), Doukara (Cook 64). Subs (not used): S Taylor, Killock, Berardi, Benedicic.