UNITED 1 (Becchio 15), DERBY 2 (Hulse 13, Commons pen 26)
United: Schmeichel, Connolly, Naylor, Collins, Bessone, Kilkenny (Clayton 77), Howson (Grella 86), Johnson, Watt, Becchio, Sam (White 70). Subs: Higgs, Bruce, Hughes, Bromby.
Derby: Bywater, Brayford, Leacock, Bailey, Roberts, Green, Savage, Cywka (Pringle 74), Anderson (Barker 46), Commons (Porter 84), Hulse. Subs: Deeney, Buxton, Moxey, Doyle.
Referee: N Swarbrick
Booked: Naylor, Howson, Connolly (Leeds), Savage, Hulse (Derby)
After a three-month wait, Simon Grayson as finally able to lead Leeds United in the npower Championship with the Elland Road clash with Derby County.
The boss had been delighted with United's pre-season programme and, of his nine summer recruits, five were making their full debuts while a sixth, Neill Collins, was making his first start as a permanent Leeds player. Alex Bruce and late loan arrival Adam Clayton were on the bench.
Leeds had scored goals aplenty during the warm-up games, and Grayson's men started firmly on the front-foot against the Rams. Both Luciano Becchio and Collins went close as United started with a verve.
But it was Derby who struck first blood inside the opening 13 minutes. Kris Commons won the ball in midfield and after a driving run he laid the ball off for former Elland Road favourite Rob Hulse. The ex-Leeds man drilled the ball home to give Derby the lead, but interestingly, refused to celebrate his strike.
It was a lead which lasted barely two minutes. This time, Jonny Howson made a surging run from midfield before laying it back to Becchio who hammered the ball past Stephen Bywater to level.
It was a real open start to the contest and after some good defending thwarted another Derby raid, Richard Naylor rattled the bar at the other end with a good strike.
But Derby were haned another opportunity on 26 minutes when Lloyd Sam was harshly adjudged to have brought down Tomasz Cywka. TV pictures suggested otherwise, but Kris Commons stepped up to convert the spot-kick.
Leeds again hit back straight away, Collins heading a Kilkenny free-kick onto the bar.
But Kasper Schmeichel was called upon to make a vital save 10 minutes before half-trme when Commons fed Green. Schmeichel stood his ground well though to beat away Green's shot.
Schmeichel also got a decisive touch when Robbie Savage whipped in a free-kick and a Derby forward made an untracked run into space to get on the end of the set-piece. United's response was with a swift counter, and Sam had a shot blocked.
It had been a 100mph first-half and the second started in similar vein, Howson testing Bywater with an early free-kick.
Leeds were also denied an early penalty shout for a handball against Savage, but the ball appesared to hit his chest. Derby immediately came steaming forward again and Schmeichel spread himself well again to deny Green who got in behind the Leeds defence.
Bywater was the next goalkeeper to be called into action when he saved from Kilkenny. Bradley Johnson also fired wide after good work by Fede Bessone.
United also fashioned out a chance for centre-back Naylor, but the skipper's header was over the top. At the other end, Schmeichel made yet another terrific save, getting down well to deny Hulse with a powerful drive.
With 13 minutes remaining, Grayson handed Man City loanee Clayton his debut in place of Kilkenny.
United were pressing for an equaliser and after a Johnson free-kick was deflected to safety a Collins header was cleared off the line by Gareth Roberts.
The search for a leveller saw Schmeichel join the attack for one set-play whie Collins also made a nuisance of himself, but the clock ran out on Leeds as Derby emerged victorious by the slimmest of margins.