A surprisingly large crowd of 18,000 descended upon Elland Road for the first competitive match of the 2012/2013 season – a first round match against Shrewsbury Town in the ever ludicrously named League Cup, now sponsored by Capital One. Many will have bought their tickets to the Shrews match in the belief that it would be the opening game of a new era at Leeds United, under the control of our elusive middle-eastern suitors. Instead, the Leeds faithful opened up their programmes to see the immovable Ken Bates staring back at them, making no mention of takeovers, or even investment, in his usual pre-game propaganda.

Compounding the confusion and disappointment was the announcement before kick-off that El Hadji Diouf, a player once described as a ‘Sewer Rat’ by none other than Neil Warnock, has joined the club on a non-contract basis. Mere mention or sight of Diouf throughout proceedings created a pantomime atmosphere, with boos and cheering fighting for attention.

Bates and Diouf aside, there was much intrigue and interest in how the first team would shape up following a summer clear-out. The starting line-up featured seven new signings (Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Green, Austin, Norris and Varney) and Sam Byram, a young defender making his first-team debut at right-back. Aiden White, Ross McCormack and Luciano Becchio completed the team, with Tom Lees apparently having picked up a minor groin injury during the week. The choice of David Norris as captain sent a few eyebrows northwards, though it remains to be seen if this is a permanent fixture.

A team with so many new signings undoubtedly takes time to gel, a fact that was evident during opening period of the game. Shrewsbury played some good football and took control, threatening the Leeds goal several times only to be foiled by Paddy Kenny – who put in a solid and assured performance.

The opening goal changed the match and allowed the home side to take control. Kenny made an excellent goal-line save, before launching the ball up field where it eventually found the feet of debutant Rodolph Austin. The Jamaican produced a powerful long range effort which the Shrewsbury goalkeeper could only parry into the path of Luciano Becchio, who chested down and volleyed into the net.

Leeds doubled their advantage five minutes later, with Ross McCormack and Luke Varney breaking clear of the defence for the former to set up the latter for an easy open goal finish. McCormack was lively throughout the match, prompting chants of ‘sign him up’ as the striker’s contract talks remain in the balance. Varney will be delighted with a debut goal as he attempts to fulfil Warnock’s premise that he can fill the Robert Snodgrass shaped hole in the team.

As half-time approached, Leeds began to dominate and would largely keep control for the remainder of the match. Early goals could have arrived in the second half, most notably as Sam Byram fired across the six yard box and Captain Norris fired straight at the goalkeeper. Norris would not be denied however in the 65th minute, firing in a low volley to give Leeds a 3-0 lead.

The rout was completed with 20 minutes to go as a Shrews defender handled in the area whilst under pressure from the attacking Paul Green. Ross McCormack confidently side-footed the resulting penalty into the bottom corner to complete a 4-0 victory.

Young substitute Dominic Poleon was handed his Elland Road debut, as was the Sewer Rat (to a chorus of competing emotions) but neither had much time to make their mark as Leeds cruised through the final 10 minutes and booked their place in the second round.

Overall, a comfortable performance against a spirited Shrewsbury side and several assured performances from debutants such as Norris, Austin and Peltier provided hope that this might just be a season to remember.