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Leeds United 1 - 0 Bolton Wanderers: Becchio Nets in Dire Encounter

A Luciano Becchio penalty just after the hour mark saved Leeds' blushes in what was a miserable afternoon at Elland Road.

Laurence Griffiths

Leeds' opening fixture of 2013 won't be remembered for years to come.

Many in attendance were probably still a little rough from the night before and if they're still suffering from memory loss they can count themselves very lucky.

A muted crowd was to be expected, a New Years Day game is never the best of feelings for the fans who have welcomed the new year in just a few hours before. What we were about to witness for 90 minutes was going to make things a little worse.

After an embarrassing performance away at Hull on Saturday, Neil Warnock started Becchio, Diouf, Austin and captain Peltier as he looked for a reaction and three points.

Bolton will feel hard done by, with them being the better side in a dreadful opening 45 minutes. Bolton's first chance came thanks to a Alan Tate mistake when he gifted the ball to the visitors. Pratley and Davies did well to find winger Chris Eagles who went one-on-one with Paddy Kenny but his left-footed effort grazed the post.

United were fast asleep in the middle of the park and were gifting possession at every opportunity. Paul Green managed to concede possession five times in a row, Norris was all over the place and even the TANK Rodolph Austin was being bullied in the middle.

Some late tackles were flying in as the players looked to try and get the crowd roaring. Byram was booked for his foul while Austin was involved in two crunching tackles.

Bolton's best effort came through Eagles again when he had a shot from distance which caused Kenny to tip it round the post.

The first-half came to a close and it was a relief for everyone inside the cold Elland Road. The second-half performance didn't really improve in the opening exchanges as Leeds once again looked lost. As the game seemed to drag on, United did find some improvements - even if they were minor.

Diouf was dropping deeper and McCormack was moving from the wing to the middle which was causing Bolton some problems. The quiet Austin came to life for a brief moment and it was his cross which earned Leeds a penalty.

With the Jamaican having no options (a regular occurrence from the game), he decided to embark on a solo run on the edge of the box. His low cross found Ross via Norris at the far post who was then upended by Tyrone Mears.

The penalty was given and up-stepped Becchio to slot home his 76th goal for the club.

After taking the lead, the Whites found some energy from their festive bellies to try and push for a second. In that brief five minute spell, McCormack had the chance to double the lead before blazing the ball over the bar and wasting a vital opportunity.

From there on in it was back to operation 'sit back and hold'. Substitute David Ngog had a chance to make it all square but his effort went high and wide after some good play by Kevin Davies. Bolton continued to throw men forward but failed to create enough chances and Leeds held on for three points to keep them within two points of the play-offs.