United and Fulham contest a 1-1 draw at Elland Road...
UNITED 1 (Cook 38), FULHAM 1 (Cairney 17)
United team: Silvestri, Coyle, Cooper, Bamba, Taylor, Adeyemi (Botaka 86), Diagouraga, Cook, Mowatt (Dallas 78), Doukara, Antenucci (Erwin 68). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Berardi, Murphy.
Fulham team: Lonergan, Fredericks (Richards 84), Burn, Amorebieta, Garbutt (Kacaniklic 53), Cairney, Madl, O'Hara (Tunnicliffe 53), Baird, Dembele, McCormack. Subs: Lewis, Stearman, Smith, Hyndman.
Referee: Kevin Wright
Booked: Bamba, Cook (United), Amorebieta, Fredericks (Fulham)
Sent off: Amorebieta (Fulham)
Att: 17,103 (364 Fulham)
The midweek visit of Fulham saw United head coach Steve Evans make four changes from the weekend’s Emirates FA Cup defeat at Watford as Lewie Coyle, Liam Cooper, Tom Adeyemi and Alex Mowatt all came in to the starting line-up. It meant Scott Wootton and Stuart Dallas dropped to the bench, while Giuseppe Bellusci served the first of his two-match ban after picking up his 10th yellow card of the season and Liam Bridcutt missed out due to personal reasons.
It was a lively start to proceedings at Elland Road, with both sides looking to get on the front foot during the early exchanges.
The visitors were the ones who came closest to opening the scoring, though, as former United trainee Luke Garbutt saw his low effort deflected behind before Ross McCormack’s goal-bound volley was turned onto the crossbar by a crucial Sol Bamba header after 13 minutes.
Fulham soon found themselves in front courtesy of another former United man, however, Tom Cairney volleying home from the edge of the area to leave Marco Silvestri rooted to the spot on the 17th-minute mark.
And the Cottagers' advantage could have been doubled within a matter of just two minutes, as Garbutt crept behind the United defence, only to scuff his effort straight into the arms of Silvestri.
United came closest to an equaliser on the half-hour mark, Bamba smashing a half-volley well over Andy Lonergan’s crossbar from inside the area after Cooper had flicked Lewis Cook’s corner into his path.
Adeyemi then threatened at the back post, firing high and wide from a tight angle after racing onto a long ball, before Fulham probed at the opposite end and a crucial intervention from Coyle denied McCormack a back-post tap-in shortly before Silvestri was called upon to beat away Garbutt’s strike from the edge of the area.
United managed to pull themselves level in spectacular fashion on 38 minutes and it was the unlikely source of Cook who grabbed the equaliser, netting his first league goal for the club with an unstoppable 30-yard strike which whistled beyond the sprawling Lonergan and into the top corner.
Leeds were lifted and went in search of a quick second but found Lonergan in fine form as the Fulham ‘keeper denied Souleymane Doukara’s low strike with his legs before holding Mirco Antenucci’s header as the hosts ended the first half strongly.
Fulham made a lively start to the second period and would have had a clear sight of goal had it not been for a crucial recovering slide challenge from Bamba to steal the ball from the toes of Dembele as the striker surged into the area seven minutes after the restart.
The visitors were then prompted into their first changes of the evening, introducing Alex Kacaniklic and Ryan Tunnicliffe in place of Garbutt and Jamie O'Hara.
A somewhat subdued passage of play followed, but Michael Madl and Mowatt both made key interventions at opposite ends to deny either side a sniff of goal, before McCormack ballooned a 25-yard free-kick into the South Stand.
Evans then made his first change of the night, bringing on Lee Erwin in attack in place of Antenucci.
But it was the visitors who were starting to apply the pressure as the game entered the final 20 minutes as United had Bamba to thank for being in the right place at the right time on more than one occasion.
Tunnicliffe squeezed in a backheel from six yards out which Silvestri was able to hold, before an end-to-end period followed as the game entered the closing stages.
Stuart Dallas, a replacement for Mowatt, came agonisingly close to volleying United into the lead within a minute of entering the field, firing Cook’s floated back-post cross inches wide of the far post.
At the opposite end, Silvestri was called into a sprawling save to push away Kacaniklic’s powerful low strike from a tight angle on the corner of the United penalty area.
Leeds chased a dramatic winner in the closing stages, with Jordan Botaka introduced from the bench in a bid to find a way through the Fulham defence, but the visitors, despite being reduced to 10 men in the final seconds following Fernando Amorebieta’s second yellow card of the evening, held firm during four minutes of added time to ensure the spoils would be shared.