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Boro crash to Leeds defeat
2:31pm Sunday 11th March 2012 in Middlesbrough FC Match Reports
MIDDLESBROUGH crashed to defeat at home to Leeds United, to hand visiting manager Neil Warnock his first win for the Whites.
First-half goals from Robert Snodgrass and Luciano Becchio proved to be the difference, while Barry Robson was dismissed in the second half to cap a thoroughly depressing day for Boro.
Snodgrass opened the scoring for Leeds in the 18th minute when the midfielder collected Aidan White's square ball – from Darren O'Dea's lofted ball from the back – and slotted through Jason Steele, who perhaps should have done better with the shot.
Five minutes later, it was two, when Becchio – reportedly a January target of Middlesbrough's – exchanged passes with Ross McCormack, who profited from an awful miskick by right-back Justin Hoyte, and the lone striker powered home.
Becchio and White both went close with chances as Boro's back four struggled to deal with the Whites' attacking prowess.
The hosts had few chances of their own and, with the exception of an injury-time Lucas Jutkiewicz header – flagged offside – looked unlikely to reduce the deficit.
The half-time interval had little effect on the game, although Rhys Williams went close with a header that hit the side netting, from Robson's free-kick.
Before that, Snodgrass saw his long-range drive hit the wrong side of the goal, sparking short-lived celebrations from the 3,000 Leeds fans in the South Stand.
Curtis Main and Kevin Thomson were brought into the fray on the hour mark in a bid to test Leeds, but Thomson's involvement lasted little over 20 minutes as the Scottish midfielder took a kick to the head.
Main went close with a far-post diving header in the 81st minute, while Thomson's replacement, Bart Ogbeche, spurned a decent opportunity two minutes later with a tame shot into Andy Lonergan's hands.
Leeds almost made it three when Becchio found McCormack, who beat the offside trap, steadied himself only to be denied by a combination of Jason Steele and the back-pedalling Seb Hines.
And Boro's misery was compounded when Robson received his marching orders four minutes from time for violent conduct.
Seven minutes were added on at the end owing to Thomson's injury, and in the seventh minute, Hines completely fluffed an opportunity to get on the scoresheet when he skewed a shot wide of the post from Lonergan's slip.
MIDDLESBROUGH (4-4-2): Steele; Hoyte, Bates, Hines, Bennett; Hammill, Williams (Main 63), Bailey, Robson; Jutkiewicz (Thomson 63 (Ogbeche 80)), Emnes. Subs: Ogbeche, Arca, McMahon.
LEEDS UNITED (4-2-3-1): Lonergan; Connolly, Lees, O'Dea, Robinson; Clayton (Pugh 90+6), Brown; Snodgrass, McCormack (Webber 88), White; Becchio (Forssell 90+4). Subs: Nunez, Thompson.