Leeds made the trip to the Riverside Stadium still in search of their first win under Neil Warnock. The former Sheffield United manager made two changes to his starting eleven for the game as Paul Robinson, on loan from Bolton made his debut at left back in place on Danny Pugh whilst Aidan White made his return from injury in a move which saw Danny Webber back on the bench. Boro went in to the match having won four out of their last five games and were seen as the favourites for the visit of Leeds but United had a score to settle after Marvin Emnes' goal at Elland Road earlier in the season was enough to see Middlesbrough leave Elland Road with all three points.
Leeds started in that vein and Ross McCormack could have opened the scoring when a clever flick from Luciano Becchio found the Scot. McCormack can normally be relied upon in those types of situations but unfortunately for Leeds, he sliced his half volley wide of the post. There was also a nasty clash in the early stages which saw Lukas Jutkiewicz' elbow find Darren O'Dea's head and there were early concerns over the defender who has had spells out of the side this year with bad concussion. Thankfully O'Dea was deemed fit enough to continue and following on from that it wasn't long before Leeds early dominance was rewarded. It was the man Neil Warnock made captain who scored the first goal of Warnock's reign following some good work down the right from Aidan White. It was a shot that Steele in the Middlesbrough net should have saved but the Leeds fans didn't care and it was 1-0 to United. The goal seemed to wake the home side up a little and they tried to put some pressure on the visitors. United stood up to it well though and after just under half an hour it was 2-0. A good ball from Robinson sent Leeds away on a counter attack and some good link up play between McCormack and Becchio via a mistake from Middlesbrough's Hoyte left Becchio with an easy tap in to send Neil Warnock and the Leeds fans into dreamland. McCormack did particularly well to have the vision to set up Becchio when most people in the stadium were expecting United's top scorer to have a shot.
Middlesbrough's best chance of the game came on the back on a crunching tackle from new loan signing Paul Robinson. It was from the throw in that Barry Robson sent in a powerful half volley on the turn but Andy Lonergan was equal to it and sent the ball wide for a corner. It was Robinson again who came to the fore when Robson's corner seemed to be going straight in. Robinson dived in and headed the ball clear. The away side then had another two chances to further stretch their lead when a looped ball from Michael Brown found Luciano Becchio who was onside but the Argentinian couldn't steer his first time effort on target and it was over. Aidan White was the next man to miss a chance when a McCormack's pass found White on the right hand side of the box but he too guided his effort over the top.
Leeds went in at the break two goals to the good, it was no more than the visitors deserved and it could have been four or five with the chances that they created. The second half started with Middlesbrough trying to get a foothold in the game and they earned an early corner which was brilliantly collected by Andy Lonergan. It was from Lonergan's long clearance that sections of the Leeds following thought they had gone three up. McCormack found himself behind Boro's back four and he teed up Snodgrass who fired the ball into the side netting. Middlesbrough had woken up at the start of the second half though and they were next to hit the side netting when a Barry Robson free kick was guided just wide by Rhys Williams.
Adam Clayton was the next to go close for Leeds when his long range shot was deflected over as United looked for that third goal to kill off any hopes of a Middlesbrough come back. With the game in the final ten minutes of normal time McCormack had a glorious opportunity to make it three when a great pass from Becchio sent United's number 44 through on goal. However with the defender closing in on McCormack his tame effort wasn't enough to beat Steele.
There was still time for some controversy as the fourth red card was shown in this fixture during the current campaign. It went to Barry Robson after he tangled with Adam Clayton. The card seemed harsh but Leeds didn't care and Middlesbrough would have to finish the game with ten men. Forssell, Pugh and Webber entered the fray in the final stages as seven minutes of stoppage time were played out without any real incident. Middlesbrough should have pulled a goal back in the final minute when Andy Lonergan fumbled a tame Adam Hammill strike but the on-rushing Middlesbrough man couldn't guide the ball into the empty net.
That was the last chance of the game and United thoroughly deserved their win. It was their first under Neil Warnock and the 2-0 scoreline saw the Whites record their third clean sheet in four games. The one goal conceded so far in Warnock's reign was against the league leaders Southampton in a game in which we deserved to win, what a change Warnock has made already. United are now four points off the play offs and it is hard not to get carried away but it is important we don't. However if United continue to play like this from now until the end of the season then it is certainly going to be an interesting ride. Particular praise has to go to the defence, they have all stepped up their performances in recent weeks and with the likes of McCormack, Snodgrass and Becchio going forward we are always going to be threat. Long may it continue.