Ross McCormack's second goal of the game in the dying minutes salvaged a draw for Leeds United in a thrilling night of Championship football.
Leeds boss Simon Grayson handed new loan signing Danny Pugh his first start since he left the club five years ago. The ex-Stoke man came in for Luciano Becchio. United went into the game on the back of a heavy defeat to rivals Manchester United, and Brighton themselves were coming into the game following back-to-back defeats. The Whites travelled to the new AMEX stadium for the first time, after Brighton finally moved from the Withdean stadium.
The opening exchanges were fast paced and end-to-end, and Robert Snodgrass had Leeds' first real chance. The Scottish international tried his look with the outside of his foot, but the shot sailed just over the bar. Adam Clayton then went close, but Leeds were one up moments later thanks to Andy Keogh's first goal for the the club.
Left-sided pair Aidy White and Danny Pugh worked well with the ball, and it was White who crossed the ball in that eventually fell to Keogh to slot home. Just as Leeds fans were shocked at the Whites' impressive start it got even better. Ross McCormack received the ball on the edge of the box, and the in-form striker unleashed a low driven shot that went straight into the bottom right-hand corner.
Brighton looked to threaten from set-pieces and with Leeds' poor defensive record they have every chance of pulling one back. Danny Pugh left Barnes unmarked from a corner, and the striker should have done much better with his effort. Brighton's best chance of the first-half fell to Craig Mackail-Smith. The Ex-Peterborough man was thwarted by United keeper Andy Lonergan from close range. Leeds made it to half-time with a two goal lead, and were looking good apart from the defensive set-up from dead ball situations.
All that work was ruined just three minutes into the second-half. The Whites gave the ball away from their own throw-in, and Mackail-Smith reacted first and ran freely towards goal to slide the ball past the helpless Lonergan.
Brighton just wouldn't go away and were causing the fragile Leeds defence problem after problem. Once again the Leeds back-line cracked and Leigh Bromby made a shocking mistake to gift Brighton a penalty. Bromby tripped Mackail-Smith and Lee Probert had no choice but to give Brighton the chance to make it all square. Barnes stepped up to take the spot kick and didn't let the pressure get to him, firing the ball into the top left corner.
Luciano Becchio and Mika Varynen were introduced into the action, replacing Andy Keogh and Danny Pugh. Brighton then went 3-2 up when Mackail-Smith reacted quickest in the box to place the ball past Lonergan. Adam Clayton had a good chance to make it all square, but his left-footed drive went wide of the mark. But somehow the equaliser did come thanks to the deadly McCormack. Jonny Howson chased the ball down into the box, and his cutback was met by McCormack who salvaged the draw.
Neither team had time to attempt one last attack, but the Whites have to feel that they through the game away again. Although at times the Whites looked shaky, Leeds were in charge and dominating the game in the opening 45 minutes. Once again defensive errors and a lack of leadership caused another self-destruction. Adam Clayton once again tried his heart out, but he struggled to find his feet in the game. Danny Pugh and Aidy White didn't exactly set the world alight but the combo will work in my opinion, when White wants to bomb forward Pugh can cover at left-back.
Before the game I would have taken a point, and I'm sure I aren't alone in that thought. But the game leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, and the thought of what could have been. United tackle Portsmouth at home next Saturday, and will struggle once again unless something is finally sorted at the back.