Becks at the double as visitors reduced to eight...
UNITED 4 (Becchio 13, Gradel 33, Beckford 79, 84 pen), MK DONS 1 (Lewington 19)
United: Higgs, Hughes, Naylor, Collins, Parker (Howson 59), Snodgrass (Beckford 76), Kilkenny, Johnson, Watt (McSheffery 81), Gradel, Becchio. Subs: Ankergren, Doyle, Grella, Bromby.
MK Dons: Gueret, Doumbe, Lewington, McCracken, Powell, Howell, Chadwick (Chicksen 63), Leven, Randall, Easter, Baldock (Gobern 51) Subs not used: Searle, Davis, Collins.
Referee: M Oliver
Sent-off: Doumbe, McCracken, Leven (MK)
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United manager Simon Grayson made three changes from the side which lost 3-2 at Gillingham the previous weekend. Ben Parker returned for his first start since August, Bradley Johnson started in a central midfield role, and Sanchez Watt made his full debut on the left.
There was pre-match surprise for the Elland Road faithful with Lucas Radebe making a guest appearance, and the legendary centre-back was quick to offer his words of hope for the promotion bid.
It was a vital encounter for Leeds and it took just 12 minutes for Luciano Becchio to put United 1-0 up. Watt was the architect with an incisive pass for the striker and Becchio made no mistake, tucking the ball beyond Willy Gueret.
But the lead lasted barely six minutes before MK drew level. A free-kick was played into the Leeds box and visiting skipper Dean Lewington arrived to clip the ball home in front of a stunned Kop.
United responded immediately with a couple of set-pieces causing problems at the back for the visitors. Grayson's side were enjoying all the possession, and while Becchio put pressure on Gueret, chances were at a premium.
The visiting keeper was also forced into evasive action when Max Gradel went in pursuit of a long ball forward, and after Neil Kilkenny intelligently brought the ball forward again, United were back in front. Gradel seized inside the area and delivered a great finish to make it 2-1.
The visitors were dealt another blow just two minutes before half-time when they were reduced to 10 men. Mathias Doumbe was handed a straight red card following a lunging challenge on Watt.
Things looked like they had got even worse for MK before the break. Goalkeeper Gueret, whose poor throw-out had led to the sending off, slipped while collecting a harmless ball, Gradel seized as he looked to capitalise, and the keeper appeared to catch Gradel's feet. Referee Mike Oliver was unmoved though and no penalty was awarded.
And in stoppage time Gueret came to MK's rescue again when he blocked an effort from Snodgrass with his legs.
United threatened again straight from the re-start in the second half and Gradel saw two crosses cleared to safety.
MK substitute Lewis Gobern did test Shane Higgs just before the hour, but of more concern for Leeds was an injury sustained by Parker, who appeared to catch his studs in the turf. The youngster, making his first start since the opening day, appeared to be holding his knee as he was substituted with tears in his eyes.
On 63 minutes, Gueret again made a good stop to deny the impressive Watt after some great build-up play involving Gradel. United also fashioned out another chance which saw Richard Naylor head over.
With 14 minutes remaining, Grayson made his first change of the game, introducing Jermaine Beckford in place of Snodgrass.
And the change paid immediate dividends with Beckford scoring to make it 3-1. Watt, Becchio, and Johnson were all involved in the build-up and Beckford finished off with a great strike.
Moments later, Beckford was in the thick of it again when he was hauled down by David McCracken when through on goal. Referee Oliver again pulled out a red card and Beckford duly stepped up and converted his second spot-kick in as many weeks.
Beckford came within a whisker of completing his hat-trick two minutes from time when glanced a header just wide of the upright.
Still United came forward, Jonny Howson had a shot cleared off the line, and Leeds were pressing for a fifth goal.
And, as the game headed into the second minute of stopage, MK Dons were amazingly reduced to eight-men when the referee again went straight for his red card when Peter Leven lunged at Neill Collins.
That proved to be the final action of a contest which saw United move within two wins of a Coca-Cola Championship return.