By Keith Ingham
Leeds came back from a goal down to beat Middlesborough and a brace from Luciano Becchio put him into the top ten of Leeds United goal scorers, passing his former team mate Jermaine Beckford. A remarkable achievement by a much maligned player.
Neil Warnock made three changes to the side beaten in the cup, with Kenny, Tate and Norris returning. I do feel Michael Brown was unlucky to miss out as he had a good game v Chelsea. Michael Tonge made his last appearance before returning to Stoke.
The torrential rain beforehand made conditions tricky but Boro settled early and had the better of the early exchanges. Emnes tried his luck but was wide with his effort. Michael Tonge had a free kick blocked for Leeds' first effort and Sam Byram forced Steele to save smartly on twenty minutes, but it was Middlesbrough who took the lead on thirty minutes when Julkiewicz forced the ball home after his first attempt was blocked. A really scruffy goal and a bad one from the defence to gift. Leeds came back through with both Byram and Thomas going close before a cross was superbly converted by the inform Becchio. A fantastic goal by the Leeds number ten. Goal of the season so far ?
Leeds had to change things around after Half time, the ill Green replaced by White. Byram went into midfield, Peltier went to right back and White to left back. Round pegs into round holes may I say!
Early in the second half Emnes and Smallwood came close to giving Boro the lead, Kenny saved well from the latter. Diouf also went close for Leeds. With twenty minutes remaining Davide Somma replaced Thomas making his first appearance since May 2011, he received a great welcome as he entered play. Neil Warnock said in his post match interview it was like signing a new player.
Leeds grabbed two corners in succession and from the second Diouf sent it over and Becchio leaped highest to score past Steele with the aid of a deflection. With time nearly up Emnes sent a shot wide, it was their last chance.
Five wins out of six is a great achievement considering that Leeds were looking anxiously over their shoulders prior to this impressive run.
Confidence is high amongst the fans and David Haigh and Salem Patel must be pleased with their new acquisition. Especially looking at the Championship league table, Leeds sit in eighth only two points from the top six. Although the quality of this side can be questioned, it's commitment can't.
Man of the Match: Luciano Becchio for his two goals, especially his first 'worldly' but Sam Byram wasn't far behind him. This young man needs to be kept whatever changes are forthcoming. The best player to come out of the academy since Delph, in my opinion.
Fans: A great turn out, 25,000+ before Christmas shows increased belief in and around the club. Quiet early on but warmed up after Becchio's goal 7/10
Team: They don't give in but the defence gave a poor goal away.
Merry Christmas everybody
On On On