LEEDS UNITED inflicted Middlesbrough’s first defeat of the 2014-15 season after a late mistake by goalkeeper Tomas Mejias.
The Spaniard, relatively untested throughout, failed to hold a long-distance shot from Michael Tonge and Billy Sharp tapped in to give Dave Hockaday’s side the points.
However, the first half was dominated by the controversial ruling out of what seemed to be an acceptable goal scored by Albert Adomah on 25 minutes. The Ghanaian acrobatically volleyed home after George Friend’s throw-in made its way across the box, but referee Stuart Attwell ruled the goal out for dangerous play – in that Adomah’s foot was too high.
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Boro’s ‘goal’ came after Leeds saw a shot blocked on the line with only 70 seconds on the clock, after Billy Sharp, on his Leeds debut, was played in, denied by Mejias, before Nicky Ajose followed up from the rebound where Daniel Ayala cleared.
After Boro’s disallowed goal, Leeds seemed to spring into life, with Tommaso Bianchi drawing a save out of Mejias on the volley and full-back Sam Byram firing wide on the half-hour.
Adomah was undone by some superb Leeds defending on the stroke of half-time when Grant Leadbitter threaded a ball through to the Boro winger, who was closed down adroitly by Whites defender Stephen Warnock.
Both teams struggled to match the intensity of the first half after the restart, with Jason Pearce registering the first meaningful chance after 79 minutes after Attwell had dished bookings out to Leadbitter and Friend, the Leeds defender heading just wide from a free-kick.
Adam Clayton came on for his first piece of Boro action since sealing a midweek move from Huddersfield Town, and the former Leeds midfielder almost led to a Whites goal when his shot was blocked and cleared up the pitch, where fellow debutant Damia Abella miscued his pass back to Mejias and his Spanish compatriot only just made the clearance.
And the goalkeeper was at fault for what turned out to be the winning goal, when Tonge, a second-half substitute, rattled a shot in that Mejias could only parry straight into the path of Sharp, who made no mistake to tap home.
Kike, bidding to be the first Boro player since 1919 to score in his first three games for the Teessiders, spurned a late chance when he curled high and wide of Marco Silvestri’s goal, while George Friend’s effort at the death ricocheted off Ayala who was offside.
LEEDS UNITED: Silvestri, Byram, Pearce, Cooper, Warnock, Murphy, Bianchi, Austin (Cook 86), Ajose (Poleon 75), Sharp, Doukara (Tonge 53). Substitutes: S Taylor, C Taylor, Wootton, Smith.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-2-3-1): Mejias; Abella, Omeruo, Ayala, Friend; Whitehead (Clayton 60), Leadbitter; Adomah, Tomlin (Williams 85), Reach (Nsue 75); Kike. Substitutes: Konstantopoulos, Husband, Fewster, Woodgate.