A late goal from midweek signing Billy Sharp gave David Hockaday his first league win of the 2014/15 Championship campaign as The Whites improved on a poor opening day performance against Millwall to beat Middlesbrough at Elland Road.

Leeds started brightly, but Middlesbrough soon began to dominate possession and showed glimpses of the fluid, attack-minded team who brushed aside Birmingham City on opening day.

Albert Adomah was proving to be a particular nuisance to Leeds on the right. In what looked to be a glaring oversight by David Hockaday, it was Stephen Warnock who was tasked with keeping Middlesbrough’s tricky winger under control despite being almost unfairly mismatched for pace.

But Warnock would go on to put in the performance of the day, using his years of experience to frustrate and restrict one of Middlesbrough’s most dangerous players and when Leeds’ defence was beaten, it was often body on the line stuff from Warnock that kept the visitors at bay.

A big talking point came 25 minutes in when Warnock was involved in a moment of controversy that denied Middlesbrough the opening goal, throwing himself at Albert Adomah whose overhead kick was consequently ruled out for dangerous play. Such was the proximity of Adomah’s boot to Warnock’s head, the referee saw fit to disallow the goal despite a total absence of appeals from the Leeds United players or the crowd.

Middlesbrough will feel understandably annoyed at the decision as it was an excellent bit of skill and a goal which should – in my opinion at least – have stood, but it’s the referees call and he saw it differently. Harsh, but over the course of a 46 game season every club sees their share of bad and questionable decisions, you just hope it all balances out with a bit of good fortune along the way.

At a point in the game where Middlesbrough were dominating possession, the disallowed goal seemed to give The Whites a bit of belief to push on and make their own mark on the fixture. New signing Bianchi and Sam Byram both had attempts before the half-time whistle, but it was Adomah again who went closest to breaking the deadlock, denied again by a fantastic block from Stephen Warnock.

Leeds started the second half strongly, pinning Boro back and looking to keep the pressure on through a succession of corners but their defence proved to be as resolute as our own and the fixture looked to be heading towards a stalemate.

Boro’s best chance of the second half fell to Kike who looked certain to score after breaking free of Leeds’ defence, only to be denied by the thorn in Middlesbrough’s side, Stephen Warnock.

At the other end Billy Sharp was annoyed with himself after his headed attempt from a Leeds United corner went wide of the post, but the debutant would have the final word, reacting quickly to a long-range effort from Michael Tonge which was spilled by the Middlesbrough keeper and tucked away by Billy Sharp, who reeled away towards the Leeds fans in celebration of a winning goal on his debut.

FT Leeds United 1-0 Middlesbrough

Ups and downs v Boro

Sharp – Strong performances from all of Leeds’ new signings, particularly Sharp whose striker’s instinct ultimately won us the game. His workrate was excellent and the chasing-down of every lost cause keeps the pressure on the opposition’s defence and goalkeeper.

Bianchi – A reassuring figure in midfield, very comfortable on the ball making very few mistakes in possession. He’s already proving to be a very good signing.

Cooper – Did a lot of things right but his was undoubtedly the weakest performance of the three new signings. Both he and Pearce should have done better leading up to Middlesbrough’s disallowed goal, and again when Adomah and Kike broke through later in the game, but it takes time to form a strong defensive partnership and Cooper did enough to convince me he’ll be a strong asset to the club.

Silvestri – First clean sheet for the new man between the sticks and a deserved one I feel. He’s been solid in his first couple of games for the club and I’ve been very impressed by his command of the area. He reaches most crosses and high-balls into the box before the opposition manage to cause us any problems relieving huge amounts of pressure from the defence. Also mixes things up with his distribution, often rolling the ball out to his defenders instead of the aimless hoofs we’d become accustomed to.

Warnock – Simply sensational. On paper, he should have been the weak link of our defence up against the pace and skill of Adomah, but Warnock rolled back the years to put in arguably his best performance to date in a Leeds United shirt. Man of the match without contest.

Overall, a hugely improved display from Leeds after the poor showing against Millwall on opening day. There’s work to be done and I’d still like to see some genuine width added before the window closes (Adomah would be nice…) but this was an encouraging performance against a strong Middlesbrough side who have the talent to go a long way this season.

On and on…