Sunday, October 17, 2010 16/10/10
MIDDLESBROUGH 1 (Boyd 53), LEEDS 2 (Somma 12, Becchio 63)
United went into the game on the back of two defeats and Simon Grayson tweaked with his side once again, welcoming Paul Connolly back from injury and recalling Luciano Becchio to his starting line-up.
Middlesbrough were in the lower reaches with the pressure reportedly mounting on manager Gordon Strachan. Crowds have also dipped at the Riverside Stadium, but with over 4,000 visiting fans and an increased home turnout, there was a decent atmosphere.
And it was United who started brightly, Jonny Howson firing over the top from an angle inside the opening moments. George McCartney also had an effort blocked by Matthew Bates after some good build-up play.
United's early intentions were to pass the ball around while Boro were looking to play on the counter.
And Leeds were in front inside 12 minutes when Davide Somma converted a Watt cross from the left and put it beyond Jason Steele in the Boro goal. Rob Snodgrass had released Watt and referee Chris Foy played his part by allowing play to continue when the Scot was fouled.
With United settling quickly and bagging an early goal, the Boro fans were quick to start to show their frustrations, but Gary O'Neil did fire wide for the home side on 20 minutes. Kris Boyd also headed over after Mickael Tavares crossed from the right.
It wasn't until the 28th minute that Jason Brown was called upon, though, when he saved an effort from distance from Nicky Bailey.
But Leeds responded with another spell of pressure, and the home side were certainly looking nervy without the ball.
Boro created their best chance so far shortly after the half-hour when Tarmo Kink smashed the ball into the box and Boyd, in space, failed to find the target with his header.
Grayson was forced into making his first change on 35 minutes when George McCartney, who was suffering with an illness, was replaced by Andrew Hughes. Two minutes later, Watt also limped out of the game, following a crude challenge from Kink, and he was replaced by Bradley Johnson.
The double change was a disruption for the United boss, but it was his side who responded with next sight of goal when Somma opted to try his luck from distance.
Leeds did have to defend a couple of harmless set-plays before the break, but it was the home side who were booed off at the half-time interval as United went in a goal to the good.
United had some defending to do in the opening moments of the second period, Connolly doing enough to prevent Boyd from making a proper connection with a Kink cross.
But the home side were level 53 minutes. Boyd found space in the area to meet a right-wing cross and he stabbed the ball home from close range to make it 1-1.
After being fairly comfortable, the goal gave the otherwise muted home support a lift, and United were suddenly looking to take control of the game once again. And it took some good defending from the home side to cut out a low cross from Somma when Becchio was waiting to pounce.
Becchio did make it 2-1, though, on 63 minutes. Becchio won the ball on the edge of the area, and when Johnson pulled the ball back across goal the Argentinean delivered a superb finish to put United back in front.
Becchio, linking up well with Somma, almost added a third five minutes later when he rattled the inside of the woodwork from distance with another terrific effort.
Strachan introduced former Reading striker Leroy Lita as his side looked to play catch-up and he was involved as Boro won two quick-fire corners. Scott McDonald also tried his luck with a shot from distance which Brown gathered.
As the clocked ticked down United were getting men behind the ball, looking to protect the lead. There was a delay as the game entered its final stages with Amdy Faye limping off to be replaced by Leigh Bromby.There were five minutes of stoppage time for United to contend with, but Grayson's men edged towards a victory that lifts Leeds back up to ninth in the table.