Lively Leeds United addition denied by crossbar as young Whites are beaten at Brighton

Leeds United's under-23s squandered a chance to kick clear of the drop zone as Friday afternoon's Premier League Two Division One clash at Brighton ended in a 1-0 defeat.

Charlie Cresswell returned to the XI for Leeds but star men Joe Gelhardt, Sam Greenwood and Crysencio Summerville were not involved and Brighton's Evan Ferguson proved the clear difference in the first half.

Leeds squandered a golden opportunity to go ahead in the tenth minute as a terrific Stuart McKinstry cross from the left picked out the advancing Jack Jenkins but the midfielder put his effort wide from a few yards out.

But Brighton then began to cause big problems, particularly through commanding top scorer Ferguson who worked the opening for the Seagulls to take the lead in the 33rd minute.

SO CLOSE: Sean McGurk, right, was denied by the crossbar in the closing stages as Leeds United's under-23s fell to a 1-0 defeat at Brighton. Photo by Lewis Storey/Getty Images.

Ferguson had earlier been denied at close range as Whites keeper Kristoffer Klaesson smothered the ball off his feet and Brighton's Cameron Peupion then missed a sitter when volleying wide with the goal gaping following a cross from the left.

Ferguson then worked an opening on the edge of the box and saw a firm shot that was heading into the bottom right corner tipped wide by Klaesson.

But moments later the Brighton striker stormed into the box from the right flank, holding off Leo Hjelde and Liam McCarron to then send in a cross for Andrew Moran to tuck away an easy finish.

Brighton should have doubled their lead three minutes later when Peupion was presented with another opportunity on the edge of the box but his weak shot was saved by Klaesson.

The Seagulls were well on top but Leeds worked a good opening six minutes before the interval which ended with Nohan Kenneh firing wide from the edge of the area.

Max Dean was brought on during the half-time break as Liam McCarron was withdrawn and Leeds began the second half brightly, Mateo Joseph's cutback setting up McKinstry whose shot was easily saved and Hjelde storming into the box but hitting the side netting.

Back came Brighton as Todd Miller raced into the area, his effort saved by Klaesson at his near post.

On the hour mark, a Whites free-kick from the edge of the box was whipped over the bar by Lewis Bate, after which Sean McGurk replaced McKinstry as United's second change.

Bate then worked an opening for Dean whose effort from just inside the box was deflected behind for a corner and Leeds then squandered a glorious chance to equalise in the 69th minute when Joseph played in Amari Miller who flashed his effort wide of the post.

At the other end, Klaesson prevented Brighton from bagging a second with 11 minutes left as he raced off his line to save from Miller who had been played in.

But only the frame of the goal denied Leeds a late equaliser as a rasping shot from McGurk from the edge of the box crashed back off the crossbar in the 88th minute.

Leeds United under-23s v Brighton: Klaesson, Sutcliffe, Hjelde, Cresswell, McCarron (Dean 46), Kenneh, Jenkins, Bate, Miller, McKinstry (McGurk 60), Joseph. Subs: Van Den Heuvel, Mullen, Allen.