Leeds United 1 Middlesbrough 1

Last updated : 03 January 2011 By Northern Echo

Now Mowbray, 11 matches in to his reign after taking over from Gordon Strachan, must ensure the promising work he has carried out so far continues amidst a month of uncertainty at the Riverside Stadium.

Had it not been for Luciano Becchio's late equaliser, Middlesbrough would be sitting four points clear of the relegation zone and just nine shy of the play-offs this morning.

The cruel ending, cancelling out David Wheater's first half opener, left the away dressing room feeling as if they had suffered another harsh defeat under the guidance of Mowbray.

In reality, however, a team struggling to climb out of relegation trouble emerged from a game against a team with hopes of finishing in the Championship's top two with a point.

The finger could be pointed at the manner in which Middlesbrough allowed Leeds to quickly turn defence in to attack after Justin Hoyte had wasted a glaring chance at the opposite end.

And there were other aspects, like the fact Wheater's header was the only effort recorded on target, that still need addressing if Middlesbrough are to continue the climb up the table.

But, overall, Middlesbrough impressed. Once they had scored, they defended particularly well until the dying moments and there were flashes of the sort of quick-moving football which Mowbray is keen to deliver.

On so many occasions in the last six months Middlesbrough have failed to show the sort of ability that has had the likes of Simon Grayson - who labelled them a "top side" in this division - wary.

"I hope progress will continue to be made in 2011," said Mowbray. "The signs are there that we can be more optimistic yet we have to get points.

"Hard work and a little bit more ruthlessness is required. Generally speaking the performances of the team have been good but week in, week out one goal hasn't been enough.

"We need to be more ruthless in front of goal and then I assume it will be a better year for us."

With Middlesbrough in a financial situation where they need to listen to offers for any of their players this month, Mowbray knows he has an uncertain month ahead.

Despite witnessing improvements in the way his team have played in recent weeks, he remains intent on adding a few new faces to a squad he has inherited from Strachan's 12 months in charge.

But having followed up last Tuesday's win at Preston by going close to ending Leeds' 12-match unbeaten run, Middlesbrough need to try to keep up the momentum regardless of whether there are comings and goings this month.

Mowbray, whose side face third placed Norwich City at the Riverside today, said: "When a team hasn't put a winning run together for so long - and we haven't put together a run like the one Leeds are on for a long time - you get used to losing football matches. It is habit forming, just as winning football matches can be habit forming too."

Middlesbrough had already had a couple of decent opportunities when Wheater rose in the 20th minute to nod down Julio Arca's corner which bounced off the turf and beyond Jonathan Howson.

Arca also went close with two decent efforts from distance before half-time as Middlesbrough's confidence reached new highs after securing the lead.

Even when Leeds stepped things up after they had introduced Neil Kilkenny and Lloyd Sam, Wheater and Matthew Bates marshalled a defence that restricted Leeds to long range efforts.

That was the case until the closing minutes when goalkeeper Jason Steele got down well to hold Sanchez Watt's low strike moments before Middlesbrough were made to pay for not seeing the match out.

It all stemmed from Marvin Emnes' clever burst in to the box. He squared for Hoyte who, with Barry Robson also hovering for a pass, appeared to get his legs tangled up when a goal looked on.

Leeds came away with the ball, played it long. Neill Collins, the former Sunderland defender, knocked down to the right, then Steele punched a delivery into the box as far as Becchio, who struck in to an unguarded net.

Even after that Leeds could have pinched a winner when Ross McCormack dived to head wide from inside six yards.

"Ultimately as we go along we've got to learn to see off games like that," said Mowbray. "When teams are putting you under pressure late on and 60-yard diagonal balls are being put into your box, yet you break away and should score it's frustrating.

"Twenty seconds before the goal we had three men in their penalty area and yet the boy slips on his backside. That would have been 2-0 and finished - but that's football."



1-0: Wheater (20mins, headed Arca's corner down in a crowded area and it bounced beyond Howson on the line)

1-1: Becchio (90, struck in to an empty net after the ball fell to him on the edge of the area)

Bookings: Hughes (40, foul); Howson (52, foul); Arca (59, foul); Robson (63, foul)

Referee: Colin Webster (Shotley Bridge) - infuriated the home supporters but on the whole he controlled the game well. 6

Attendance: 30, 452

Entertainment: ***

LEEDS UNITED (4-4-1-1): Schmeichel 5; Connolly 5, Collins 7, O'Brien 6, Hughes 4 (Kilkenny 56, 6); SNODGRASS 7 (Watt 77), Johnson 5, Howson 6, Gradel 4 (Sam 56, 6); McCormack 6;

Becchio 7. Subs (not used): Higgs (gk), Bruce, Paynter, Somma,


6 Steele: Had a couple of shaky moments but did make a crucial save to deny Watt before the equaliser did arrive

5 Hoyte: Had kept the threat of Gradel at bay but was guilty of losing possession when Leeds counter attacked and equalised

8 Bates: It will be such a shame if his pairing with Wheater is broken up this month

8 WHEATER: Scored a second goal inside a week and showed why Boro would prefer to keep him

7 Bennett: Impressive again and had he scored after beating five men then it would have been one of the finest goals of the season

7 Emnes: Lively throughout even if it took him until the latter stages to really threaten the Leeds box

7 Bailey: Always on the front foot, preventing the Leeds midfield from controlling things

5 Thomson: Another afternoon in which he will be frustrated to have left the field early through injury

8 Arca: He might be one of the most likely departures in the next six months but he is clearly enjoying playing for Mowbray

6 McDonald: Worked hard outside of the area before travelling to the Asian Cup yesterday

6 Lita: Not as potent as he was at Preston and never really linked up with McDonald


Robson (for Thomson 25): Looked short on his return after illness. 5

Boyd (for Lita 71)

McMahon (for McDonald 78)

 (not used): Kink, Coyne (gk), Hines, Tavares.

MAN OF THE MATCH: David Wheater - with performances like this, Mowbray will have a difficult job replacing him.

Source: Northern Echo

Source: Northern Echo