LEEDS United boss Neil Warnock was pleased with the battling qualities shown by his side again as they came from behind twice to earn a point at Brighton.
The Whites boss was also grateful to the goalkeeper he has often described as the best in the country with Paddy Kenny saving a Craig Mackail-Smith penalty and brilliantly tipping wide an injury-time goalbound shot from Andrew Crofts.
Leeds started sluggishly, perhaps feeling the effects of their Capital One Cup tie just three nights earlier, and fell behind to the first of three penalties awarded on the night by referee Lee Mason.
Mackail-Smith scored from the spot on 15 minutes after Will Buckley went sprawling over Lee Peltier’s outstretched leg and within three minutes came within a whisker of adding a second with a shot that hit the post.
United had another let off when Andrea Orlandi volleyed over as it looked easier to score and the same player also saw a header easily saved by Kenny.
Leeds gradually played their way into the contest and were level on 35 minutes when Luke Varney was pulled down by Bruno Saltor off the ball and referee Mason pointed to the spot again. With usual penalty taker Luciano Becchio only on the bench it fell to El Hadji Diouf to find the net with a well struck spot kick.
United had to rearrange their defence with Tom Lees having to go off with impaired vision after being caught by an accidental flailing arm from Ashley Barnes and they were still coming to terms with the change early in the second half when going behind again, Mackail-Smith’s shot going in via a deflection.
Leeds did offer more of a threat in the second period as Aidan White shot wide twice and Diouf saw a header from a Rodolph Austin cross comfortably saved.
Their second equaliser was less out of the blue when Diouf and White combined to set up Michael Brown on the edge of the box and his shot found the net off a Becchio deflection.
For the second game running Becchio had scored with his first touch after coming on as a substitute, although there was some dispute about who should be credited with the goal.
Moments later Becchio came close to netting again with a diving header from White’s cross, but Brighton were handed a great chance on 74 minutes when Sam Byram bumped into Mackail-Smith in the area and a third penalty was the result.
However, Kenny came to the Whites’ rescue when he dived to his right to catch the ball to deny Mackail-Smith his hat-trick.
Byram almost made amends for his earlier error with a strong run to the edge of the box and shot that was held by home keeper Tomasz Kuszczak, but in the closing stages it was Brighton who came closest to a winner with Stephen Dobbie sending a 20-yarder just over and Crofts seeing his effort from inside the box well saved by Kenny.
Leeds manager Warnock thought the game was a good advert for the Npower Championship and was happy to bring a point home from the long trip to the south coast.
He said: “It took it out of us against Southampton, but we stuck at it.
“This match shows what the Championship is all about. It was a superb point for us because we were pummelled in the first 20 minutes.
“But all credit to us. We showed a never-say-die attitude and came back strongly in the first half.
“It was a great game to watch, Brighton looked a really strong outfit. We more than played our part and there are no easy matches in the Championship.
“I think Paddy Kenny would be the best keeper in the Premier League, never mind the Championship. He showed what a cheap buy he was and it’s great to have him on board.”
Brighton & Hove Albion 2
(Mackail-Smith 15, pen, 48)
Leeds United 2
(Diouf 35, pen, Becchio 66)
Friday, November 2, 2012
Brighton: Kuszczak, Bruno, Greer, El Abd, Bridge, Buckley, Hammond (Crofts 78), Bridcutt, Orlandi (Dicker 78), Mackail-Smith, Barnes (Dobbie 83).
Leeds: Kenny, Byram, Lees (Pugh 41), Pearce, Peltier, White, Austin, Brown, Tonge, Diouf (Norris 80), Varney (Becchio 65).
Referee: Lee Mason.