LEEDS 3 (Beckford 38, Becchio 45, Beckford 69), HARTLEPOOL 1 (Bjornsson 25)
Leeds: Ankergren, Bromby, Naylor (Gradel 81), Kisnorbo, Hughes, Howson, Doyle (Johnson 72), Kilkenny, Snodgrass, Beckford, Becchio (Kandol 80). Subs: D Martin, Grella, Vokes, Michalik.
Hartlepool: Flinders, Collins, Hartley, Sweeney, Austin, Jones, Liddle (Clark 46), Humphreys (Fredriksen 74), McSweeney (Larkin 74), Bjornsson, Boyd. Subs: Cook, Rowell, Greulich, Cherel.
Referee: E Ilderton
Booked: Kilkenny, Johnson, Becchio (Leeds), Sweeney, Collins (Hartlepool)
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Leeds United manager Simon Grayson named an unchanged side as he marked his first anniversary with the visit of Hartlepool.
During Grayson's tenure, Leeds had picked up 102 points from 46 league games, scoring 99 goals in the process, and boasted an unbeaten league record on home soil, dating back to January.
It had been fine year for the former Elland Road apprentice, and things almost got even better inside the opening 40 seconds against Hartlepool when Robert Snodgrass had a shot blocked on the line following an early Leeds corner.
Luciano Becchio was also denied by some good defending, as was Leigh Bromby, as United won a procession of early corner kicks.
Snodgrass was denied for a second time after six minutes when he worked himself another opening, and Leeds had started the game in control.
On 12 minutes it was the head of Gary Liddle which blocked a Snodgrass shot when the Scot threatened again.
But it was Casper Ankergren who made the first save of the festive fixture when he was called into action by Adam Boyd.
Leeds responded immediately and Scott Flinders got down well to deny Jermaine Beckford after Becchio flicked on a Neil Kilkenny ball forward.
United were dominant and it took some more good defending from Sam Collins to cut out a Kilkenny pass which would have released Beckford on goal. Moments later, a good touch from Beckford released Jonny Howson, but his shot was straight at Flinders.
But a shock was in store on 25 minutes when Hartlepool took the lead. Richie Humphreys whipped over a corner from the Leeds left, the ball was flicked on, and Armann Bjornsson was able to place his header firmly beyond a despairing Ankergren in the Leeds goal.
It was the first time Leeds had fallen behind at home all season in the league and only the third time in the league so far. And, rocked by the strike, United were on the back foot again moments later when Boyd won another corner after his deflected strike went wide.
Only Walsall and Millwall had gone in front first against Grayson's men this season and both leads had only lasted a matter of minutes. Indeed, Flinders came to Hartlepool's rescue within three minutes this time when he clung on to the ball at the second attempt when under pressure from Beckford.
The opposition lead lasted only 13 minutes, though, before Beckford levelled matters. A Snodgrass cross was cleared as far as Kilkenny and his low shot was back-heeled by a lurking Beckford to give the scrambling Flinders no chance in the Hartlepool goal.
And within minutes, Flinders had to get down well to low efforts from both Snodgrass and Beckford. Kilkenny and Beckford were linking up superbly and some of United's play was excellent as the game headed towards half-time.
The second goal came in the third minute of first half added time when Howson delivered a terrific cross from the right and Becchio's header took a deflection off Gary Liddle to leave Flinders stranded. The scorer would, though, be the matter for some conjecture.
The second half started off at great pace with both sides threatening, but it was Beckford who came close to adding a third for Leeds. First he rattled the bar with a superb strike after a great ball forward and, moments later, he was denied by a goal-line clearance.
Collins also made a good block for the visitors when Leeds threatened again. In terms of entertainment it was a lively affair with both sides scrapping it out.
Despite having the upper hand, United looked like needing another goal to be comfortable, and that came in the 69th minute courtesy of Beckford. The striker latched onto another Becchio flick-on before lifting the ball over an advancing Flinders to make it 3-1.
A second goal was no more than Beckford deserved for his efforts and with 20 minutes remaining, United were looking well-placed to extend the lead over Charlton at the top of League One. The Addicks had drawn 2-2 with Swindon earlier in the day.
Grayson also made his first change after the third goal, introducing Bradley Johnson in place of the industrious Micky Doyle.
Johnson almost made an immediate impact and felt his road to goal was blocked was unfairly. That prompted the spark for tempers to flare and players from both sides became embroiled in a spot of pushing and shoving on the edge of the Hartlepool box. The United sub and striker Becchio were both booked along with Hartlepool's Collins.
Tresor Kandol and Max Gradel were also handed late run-outs from the subs bench, and the latter immediately looked to make his mark with some trickery around the box. Kandol was also denied by some desperate defending when good movement saw him picked out for another incisive ball from Kilkenny.
As the clock started to tick down it was starting to look very comfortable for Grayson's men, who stroked the ball around the midfield while many of the bumper 30,000 plus crowd cheered every pass. There was still a cutting edge, though, and Flinders got down well to save from Gradel in the 88th minute.
Referee Eddie Ilderton added three minutes of stoppage time, but there was little in the way of drama as United edged to yet another home victory to strengthen a promotion charge that is threatening to gather momentum as 2010 approaches.