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Leeds United 2 - 1 Brighton & Hove Albion: Late Murphy winner gives Leeds winning start

The football season is back and Leeds United got underway with a win thanks to a great performance and a last minute winner.

Michael Regan

Walking to Elland Road today was quite the experience. A spot of people watching showed that every man, woman and child on their way to the fortress had a buzz about them. That isn't out of the ordinary usually on the first game of the season with people dying to get their fix of football.

This season though is very very different. The departure of Ken Bates had 33,000+ fans desperate to see the new look Leeds United under Brian McDermott. There was a spring in the step of everyone, the sun was shining and for a moment the football was forgotten.

As the players warmed-up it started to kick in again, that new season buzz - where will we finish, who will we sign, who will score. The first eleven was announced with a familiar back four and a diamond formation in the middle of midfield. Paul Green was the anchor, with Michael Tonge and Luke Murphy pulling the strings. Ross McCormack was the top of the diamond and he supported Noel Hunt and Luke Varney.

With the crowd still singing and shaking hands with some familiar faces - Brighton wasted no time and attacked early doors with Paddy Kenny doing well to palm away a Andrea Orlandi effort from distance.

Leeds were trying to keep the ball on the deck but they were coming unstuck and when Brighton turned it on United fell asleep and Leonardo Ulloa showed his strength to hold off Tom Lees and fire it past a confused Paddy Kenny. That goal gave the Whites a kick up the backside and their passing became crisper as they looked for a leveller.

That equaliser came moments later when the ball fell to Ross McCormack and the Scot kept his nerve to slot the ball into the bottom corner before running to the South Stand to celebrate.

The Leeds crowd went wild and from there the team picked up their work and looked to take the lead. Murphy in particular was having a cracking game and his quick feet were causing the Brighton midfield a few problems. The former Crewe man had two efforts from distance and he gave the Elland Road crowd a glimpse of what he can do.

Leeds had a couple more efforts in the first-half but the first half whistle went with both sides struggling to break each other down. McDermott's men started the second-half with the same work ethic and Luke Varney was once again causing plenty of problems with his constant pressure.

United couldn't really carve out a clear-cut chance but Brighton nearly took the lead when they went on the counter just after the hour mark. Paddy Kenny was forced to make a double save when he stopped Andrew Crofts and then Inigo Calderon.

With McDermott looking for the win, he sent on Dom Poleon and Matt Smith for Noel Hunt and Luke Varney to give the Whites another option. Poloen went close when he tried to spin on the spot before turning his man minutes later to create a chance for Paul Green who couldn't keep his shot down and the ball flew into the Kop. As Brighton countered a fan turned to me and said "that was our chance" and I nodded my head as Will Buckley nearly scored but for the reflexes of Paddy Kenny.

With the game looking finished I made my way to the stairs to queue before the final whistle, little did I know the drama wasn't finished there. A long ball forward found the head of the awkward Matt Smith and the big man's cushioned lay-off was met at speed by Luke Murphy. On his league debut the centre-midfielder saw his shot hit the post before finding the back of the net as 33,000+ Leeds fans and the players went into mass hysteria.

It turned out to be the last kick of the game and with so little time remaining the ref blew up to give Leeds a precious three points. As McDermott predicted we didn't stop until the final whistle and the players got their rewards for trying until the bitter end. We tried to pass and did, we battled and did what we needed to do to win. There's still some weaknesses in there like the fact Lee Peltier seems like he can't play right-back but we won and it's under a new regime.

We could do with more additions, more investment and a few bodies off the books but Leeds can build from today and get better. McDermott can welcome back Diouf, Byram and Austin when they are available in the next few weeks and that of course will give us a lift.

For now lets savour a win, new players looking sharp and of course a Ken Bates free Leeds United. Now that's a sentence I never thought I'd say!