Late own goal gives Leeds United lucky point

Leeds United's Lewis Cook, back in the starting line-up.

Leeds United's Lewis Cook, back in the starting line-up.

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A bizarre own goal two minutes from time gave Leeds United a somewhat fortunate point in their first game of 2016.

The Whites were huffing and puffing, but looking set to lose at home to MK Dons before Antony Kay headed the ball past his own goalkeeper to give United a 1-1 draw from a game in which they did not manage a single effort on target.

It did stretch the unbeaten run to seven games in the Sky Bet Championship even if no-one could quite work out how Leeds avoided defeat as their passing was woeful and energy levels severely lacking. Just about every player made inexplicable errors and the comments made before the game by head coach Steve Evans about the unfairness of playing three games in six games definitely seemed to ring true.

United made two changes from the side that drew with Derby as Lewis Cook returned in midfield at the expense of Tom Adeyemi and Souleymane Doukara came in for his first start of the season up front in place of Chris Wood, who failed a late fitness test.

They looked flat from the start, though, and took fully 34 minutes to have their only shot on target in the opening half, an effort from Doukara that was cut out by the Dons defence.

The visitors were not much livelier, but showed an early threat when Carl Baker’s dangerous run to the edge of the box was halted by a timely tackle.

Rob Hall fired a warning to the Whites with a free-kick that flashed just wide from the edge of the box and it was Hall who put the Dons ahead two minutes later, supplying a low finish after running onto a low pull back from the right edge of the area.

That was virtually it in terms of goalmouth action, apart from Doukara’s little flicker of excitement in a half that will quickly be forgotten by all at Elland Road.

The second half started with an immediate substitution as Mirco Antenucci was brought on to increase Leeds’ attacking options, coming on for Murphy to make it two up front. They did look livelier for a spell and saw one chance go begging when Cook latched onto a loose ball and ran 50 yards with it before passing instead of shooting when he got to the Dons box.

The move did end with a free-kick and from it Charlie Taylor was unlucky to hit the post with visitors’ keeper David Martin standing watching.

Several other promising runs ended with fouls by a Dons team that took no prisoners and the free-kick count did not add to the flow of this awful game.

Martin was forced to make a save just past the hour from his own defender, Kyle McFadzean, after he intercepted a cross following a decent run by Antenucci.

But Leeds were grateful to their own keeper, Marco Silvestri, as he saved impressively low down to deny Nicky Maynard after the Dons striker turned Cooper and raced clear into the box.

It seemed the game was drifting to a 1-0 result with the visitors content to continue breaking the game up and wasting time at every opportunity and United simply not on their game all over the pitch. But out of the blue Leeds got their unexpected lifeline as Kay headed an innocuous looking cross past his own keeper to give the Whites their third draw in three holiday games.

Match facts

Leeds United 1

(Kay og 88)

Milton Keynes Dons 1

(Hall 30)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 24,356

Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 45), Cook, Dallas (Coyle 76), Doukara (Erwin 58).

MK Dons: Martin, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Baker (Bowditch 14), Carruthers, Hall (Walsh 90), Potter, Murphy, Maynard (Church 84).

Referee: Jeremy Simpson