Derby County end two decades of opening day success for Leeds TSS August 9, 2010 Match reviews 51 Comments Kris Commons celebrates winner Had it not been for a controversial penalty decision and an Elland Road crossbar providing more cover than the Derby keeper, it might have been a much happier opening day for the Whites, but that doesn’t mask the glaringly obvious problems Leeds had with the new 4-5-1 formation. On paper, the versatile 4-5-1 should mean that the defence is covered well by the extra men in the middle and that going forward, Leeds have plenty of bodies as the formation changes to 4-3-3. The reality however, was that Luciano Becchio found himself alone in the box all too often and the Derby defence hardly had to break a sweat to cover him. When he wasn’t being outnumbered by the Derby defence, Becchio had the linesman to contend with who had clearly missed waving his flag all summer and hardly put it down all game. Coupled with a referee and his own dubious decisions, the omens were never good for the Whites. Out wide was probably the strongest area for Leeds as Lloyd Sam had a solid début and Sanchez Watt kept the opposition busy. Centrally, I had to double check a couple of times to make sure Jonny Howson was still on the pitch (and he has arguably the best of the three!), Bradley Johnson was having one of his off days and Killa has put in much better performances. Even in defeat, you have to look for positives and there definitely were some. The game was played at a good pace throughout which provided much more entertainment than in recent years. The “multi-ball” system (short for, Leeds United bought a second ball) kept things moving along nicely and stopped Derby from kicking the ball out of play to time waste at the end. Kasper Schmeichel had a great game which was capped by a brilliant double save to prevent Derby running away with the points. The new additions to defence clearly need more time to gel, but you couldn’t fault the efforts of any of them. The dodgy penalty decision was harsh on new boy, Lloyd Sam – I’ve watched the replay twenty times and it still seems iffy – but he didn’t let it get to him and worked hard to try and make amends. Overall, it was disappointing to see our opening day record lost and there’s definitely things to be improved upon. The attendance at Elland Road was dreadful, clearly not aided by the BBC showing live coverage, and the atmosphere was very subdued. Six hours drinking before kick-off probably didn’t help matters. Still, there were as many positives as there were negatives and we should be able to build on a disappointing first game. When you consider the key men we’re missing through injury, this Leeds United side will only improve as the season goes on. It was nice to be back at Elland Road and I’m now hungry for another season of ‘ups and downs’. TSS man of the match Rob Hulse deserves credit for refusing to celebrate his goal – although, he could have gone one better and just not scored in the first place! I’m going to go for Becchio, not only for the goal he scored, but for his tireless efforts throughout. Quite how he got on the scoresheet and managed to pose such a threat with an entire defence marking him and the linesman doing everything in his power to make things difficult is anyone’s guess?