When Leeds United struck late at Brighton in six-goal thriller

FOUR and a half years have passed since Leeds United's last league trip to today's hosts Brighton.

Saturday, 1st May 2021, 5:45 am

The two sides met 12 times in the Championship in the last decade before the Seagulls were promoted as runners-up in 2017.

There were also six meetings in League One and another four in the Championship before both teams went down.

September 2011 marked the first clash between the two back in the second tier and the Seagulls and Whites produced a thriller as Ross McCormack struck late to seal a 3-3 draw.

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LATE TWIST: Ross McCormack nets in second half stoppage time to salvage Leeds United a 3-3 draw at Brighton in a game in which Simon Grayson's Whites led 2-0 only to trail 3-2. Picture by Steve Riding.

Leeds had been promoted from League One under Simon Grayson as runners-up in 2010 and left Brighton trailing behind as Gus Poyet’s side only finished 13th.

But the Seagulls were then promoted as League One winners the following season in finishing three points clear of Southampton.

It meant Brighton v Leeds was back on the agenda the following campaign after United’s near miss in attempting to seal back to back promotions.

Grayson’s Whites finished seventh, missing the play-offs by three points, and the following campaign began with a 3-1 defeat at Championship new boys Southampton.

Another loss at home to Middlesbrough then followed before Leeds won three of their next five, either side of their Carling Cup exploits which ended with a 3-0 loss at home to arch rivals Manchester United on Tuesday, September 20.

The long trek to Brighton was next, to face a side who had also just exited the Carling Cup to Premier League opposition via a 2-1 defeat at home to Liverpool.

Poyet’s side had made a strong start to life back in the Championship and lined up against Leeds having picked up 16 points out of a possible 21 and suffering just one defeat - at Leicester City.

But Leeds raced into a 2-0 lead in the Friday night clash at Brighton’s AMEX Stadium only to then fall 3-2 behind before McCormack’s late leveller.

Andy Keogh fired Grayson’s side ahead in the 18th minute after Aidy White caused chaos with his run towards the byline and cross from the left.

The Brighton box then resembled a game of pinball and Keogh eventually netted from six yards out.

The Seagulls defence and ‘keeper Casper Ankergren was then left with no chance as the Whites doubled their lead six minutes later through a corking low strike from McCormack from 20 yards out.

The Whites took their 2-0 lead into the break but Craig Mackail-Smith pulled a goal back two minutes after the restart as the striker worked an opening in the Leeds box following a neat turn and slotted home a cool finish after an Ashley Barnes cross.

Thirteen minutes later, Brighton were handed a golden opportunity to level when Leigh Bromby took down Mackail-Smith in the box for a penalty. Ashley Barnes stepped up to send Andy Lonergan the wrong way and put the ball into the top left corner.

The Seagulls had the wind in their sails and Barnes and Mackail-Smith then combined to fire them in front with just six minutes left as Mackail-Smith prodded home a Barnes cross from the right.

But Leeds and McCormack provided one final twist with a stoppage time equaliser as United’s Scottish striker bagged his second of the game.

Lonergan’s long punt forward was flicked on by Luciano Becchio to Jonny Howson who sent in a low cross from the right that McCormack powered home for his ninth goal of the season from six yards out despite Brighton’s attempts to clear.

The strike prevented Brighton from going top but Grayson was left fuming with his side’s defending.

“We can’t keep conceding goals and my players must understand it,” said the Whites boss.

“We shouldn’t be delighted at getting a point right at the death from the situation that we were in.”

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Thank you Laura Collins