A tired looking Leeds United side were well beaten at the Amex last night as Chris Hughton’s improving Brighton cantered to a comfortable 2-0 victory on the south coast.

It could, and probably should, have been much more for the home side who hit the woodwork twice and were denied several times by an in-form Marco Silvestri, saving Leeds from what may otherwise have been an embarrassing scoreline.

As so often seems to be the case when we come up against him, Craig Mackail-Smith proved to be a particular nuisance, coasting down the right wing to gift the unmarked Sam Baldock the easiest of chances and open the scoring.

Leeds mustered little in the way of a response and by half-time would have been relieved that the scoreline was only 1-0, but a quick scan of the bench to see what Redfearn could change provided little cause for optimism, despite it featuring four strikers.

The problem for Leeds was one of creativity, or, more accurately, the total lack thereof – extra strikers would do nothing to address that.

Without Sam Byram, who had missed the game through injury, Leeds’ midfield looked void of ideas. Luke Murphy scrapped it out as best he could and Lewis Cook always has his moments, but Casper Sloth was dreadfully ineffective on the right wing and did nothing to lessen the blow of Byram’s absence. On the opposite side meanwhile, Charlie Taylor and Alex Mowatt had a job on their hands defensively and struggled to pose much of an attacking threat throughout.

It was disappointing to see Adryan out of the starting 18 again because Brighton are the kind of team I feel he’d be fairly useful against and if nothing else, it surely makes more sense to have him there than four strikers?

But Leeds’ biggest issue wasn’t one of bench selection, the side just looked too tired to compete, unable to deal with Brighton’s quick and clever attack so soon after their lung-busting efforts against Middlesbrough at the weekend.

The fatigue took it’s toll on Steve Morison who was replaced by Edgar Cani just after the interval, the first of 3 strikers brought on as Neil Redfearn tried to freshen things up. Mirco Antenucci would follow in place of the struggling Casper Sloth but Brighton were still comfortably in control of the game and only the efforts of Marco Silvestri in thwarting Mackail-Smith and Teixeira had kept them from doubling the lead sooner.

But it took a big stroke of luck for Brighton to beat Silvestri again, the Italian keeper saving a shot from Kayal that bounced off Calderon and into the back the net. Still, it was no less than the home side deserved, Leeds had been totally outplayed and 2-0 almost flattered us.

Doukara replaced Alex Mowatt as Redfearn brought on a third striker, bizarrely snubbing Billy Sharp and leaving Leeds with an unconvincing frontline.

Antenucci’s been unlucky, the victim of a system change, but Doukara’s found himself out of the team for good reason (because he hasn’t consistently shown he’s good enough to be in it). He’s one of the most frustrating players I’ve ever seen, but even Doukara’s shortcomings pale in comparison to those of Edgar Cani, who was just awful.

Maybe Cani will come good. I’ll clutch at straws and hope I’m missing something, but on the (albeit very small amount of) evidence so far, he’d struggle to get into my local pub team.

Unsurprisingly, the changes did nothing to alter the scoreline. Leeds’ impressive run has taken a lot out of the side and it showed here, but take nothing away from Brighton – they’re a much better side than their league position would suggest and are starting to show that again with Chris Hughton now in charge at the Amex.

As for Leeds, we’re left in mid-table snoozeville, counting down the fixtures until we start fresh and can hopefully embark on a season with a more exciting climax. In the meantime, maybe we’ll see a few more youth players blooded and Adyran get another run in the side. It’s about the only thing we have to look forward to at this stage.

On and on…

Neil Redfearn, post-match 

“We were nothing like we can be, we looked a little jaded and as though we had played to the max in the last few games. We made bad decisions in possession, didn’t press Brighton enough, and didn’t break with menace.”