Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 0: YEP jury verdict

Stephen Warnock.
Stephen Warnock.
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The YEP jury give their verdict on Leeds United’s 1-0 win against Middlesbrough at Elland Road.

Name: Matthew Evans

Age: 29

United fan for: 
22 years

Lives: Pudsey

There was a strange feeling at Elland Road on Saturday.

At face value this was a home game like any other as fans trudged towards the ground with familiar apprehension. However, there are subtle changes everywhere you look at the club right now and many of those are down to the cost cutting exercise Massimo Cellino is undertaking to transform Leeds United.

The turnstiles remained closed until just 45 minutes before kick off, the club’s long standing mascot, Lucas the Kop Cat, was absent yet barely missed and long queues snaked out of the centenary pavilion and the ticket office with seemingly fewer staff than ever available to deal with the volume of fans. The other unfamiliar sensation you detected was the cautious optimism hanging in the air.

From last week’s no-show at Millwall to a steady cup victory and three new signings this was a week that took United fans on a journey to rock bottom and gradually built up to Saturday’s game against Middlesbrough. We were threatened with a rollercoaster season and the first week didn’t disappoint.

It turned out that the peak of that ride would be a debut goal for Billy Sharp in front of the Gelderd End in the final minutes of what turned out to be a frantic fixture.

It has been quite a while since a goal caused Elland Road to erupt with such a triumphant roar but Sharp’s goal, a real poacher’s effort, meant a lot.

The first half shaped up to be another miserable affair as Middlesbrough dominated possession and looked streets ahead with their passing ability. Albert Adomah’s overhead kick was very harshly ruled out and Leeds were in many ways fortunate to make it to half-time at 0-0. After the break, United managed to get a foothold in the game with players in all quarters ramping up the effort and the game became much more even.

Stephen Warnock was crucial to this victory; being in the right place at the right time and putting his body on the line time and again.

Elsewhere, Cooper made an impressive debut alongside Jason Pearce while Billy Sharp led the line by example, running himself ragged in chasing down the Middlesbrough defence. These are positive signs and you can only imagine that the side will get better the more games Leeds play.

Credit should also go to David Hockaday who, under some pressure from the home crowd, resisted the urge to bring on Matt Smith and play long ball.

He instead brought on Michael Tonge, Dominic Poleon and Lewis Cook who could all lay claim to a helping hand in Sharp’s winning goal.

The final unfamiliar sight of the day was that of thousands of smiling faces making their way out of Elland Road at full-time. Let’s hope we see it again against Brighton tomorrow night.

Man of the match: Stephen Warnock.

Name: Keith Ingham

Age: 54

United fan for: 
41 years

Lives: Keighley

Leeds recorded back-to-back wins after a late Billy Sharp goal gave them all three points against Middlesbrough.

Leeds started brightly but the away side came back at Leeds, and Albert Adomah acrobatically hit the ball into the net after Cooper misheaded a clearance. The linesman presumably blew for dangerous play, Middlesbrough felt hard done by as it looked a goal.

Leeds improved and had a good deal of possession but just lacked the final clinical ball. A really interesting first half with the disallowed goal a definite talking point. Impressed by Rudy Austin, Billy Sharp and Stephen Warnock after a torrid first 10 minutes.

The second half was open without a real chance created but Warnock saved Leeds when he stopped Kike from getting his shot on goal. Sharp should have put Leeds in front but his header drifted past the post, but the United man wouldn’t be denied. Poleon, on as a substitute, laid the ball perfectly for Tonge who’s goal-bound effort was saved then spilled into the path of Sharp, who snatched the win with a cool finish. Not bad from a ‘fat lad from Sheffield’ – his words not mine.

The win was hard earned with good displays from the two new boys and it’s on to another home fixture tomorrow against Brighton. Well done all, the signs are positive even for a doubter like me.

Man of the match: Stephen Warnock.

Name: Stephen Clark

Age: 42

United fan for: 
26 years

Lives: Shipley

it is vital not to get too carried away by Leeds’ 1-0 win on Saturday but the display showed that the Whites will be more than capable of holding their own this season.

Billy Sharp’s late winner capped a hard-working display. Liam Cooper was excellent on debut, with some of his surging runs from the back reminiscent of a young Alan Hansen. Steven Warnock was magnificent at left-back with a succession of crucial challenges.

An encouraging performance, but a lack of clear-cut opportunities. If Leeds can be more threatening going forward, then, backed by our superb fans, Elland Road can become a real fortress.

Man of the match: Stephen Warnock.

Name: Gary Newbould

Age: 43

United fan for: 
43 years

Lives: York

The Whites were quickly out of the blocks and nearly took the lead before the visitors came back into the game. An even second half and the game looked to be heading for a draw until new signing Billy Sharp was in the right place at the right time to pounce.

Man of the match: Luke Murphy.

Name: James Harrison

Age: 18

United fan for: 
10 years

Lives: Drighlington

What a fantastic three points! After the previous week at Millwall, nobody would have thought we would have signed three players then beaten big spenders Middlesbrough seven days later.

It could not have been a better debut for Billy Sharp; scoring a late winner in front of the Kop is only what dreams are made of. Liam Cooper had a solid debut as well, he and Pearce seemed to understand each other extremely well and that looks like it could be a very good partnership. I wasn’t panicking when the ball went to our back four, we seemed very solid with Cooper there instead of Wootton. Let’s hope Sharp can carry on bagging the goals!

Man of the match: Rodolph Austin.

Name: Jonathan Ford

Age: 24

United fan for: 
20 years

Lives: Beeston

What a way to win it! And a complete contrast to last Saturday!

We looked up for a fight and every player put in a shift. However, except for the first 10 and last 15 minutes, we didn’t create enough.Fair play to Sharp; he deserved that goal.

Man of the match: Liam Cooper.

ALL SQUARE: Kemar Roofe makes it 2-2 as Leeds United yet again have to fight back from going behind. Picture by James Hardisty.

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