2016 starts with a 1-1 draw at Elland Road...
UNITED 1 (Kay OG 88), MK DONS 1 (Hall 30)
United team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Cook, Bridcutt, Murphy (Antenucci 45), Dallas (Coyle 76), Doukara (Erwin 58). Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci, Phillips, Adeyemi.
MK Dons team: Martin, Spence, McFadzean, Kay, Lewington, Potter, Carruthers, Baker (Bowditch 14), Hall (Walsh 90+1), Murphy, Maynard (Church 84). Subs: Cropper, Hodson, Reeves, Gallagher.
Referee: Jeremy Simpson
Booked: Bamba, Byram (United), Murphy, Carruthers, Hall, McFadzean, Kay (MK Dons)
Att: 24,356 (407 MK Dons)
United's first game of 2016, the visit of MK Dons, saw head coach Steve Evans make two changes from the 2-2 draw at home to Derby County earlier in the week.
Striker Chris Wood missed out as a precaution to a minor hamstring strain picked up just minutes after heading his side in front against the Rams, with Souleymane Doukara taking his place in attack for a first league start in over 12 months, while Tom Adeyemi made way for Lewis Cook in midfield.
The early exchanges passed without incident and with little in the way of goalmouth action, other than a couple of Leeds counter-attacks through Lewis Cook and Sam Byram which the MK Dons defence managed to deal with.
The visitors were dealt a blow on the 14th-minute mark, though, and were forced into an early substitution as the injured Carl Baker was replaced by Dean Bowditch.
The game’s first effort on goal eventually came after 28 minutes, with Rob Hall curling a 20-yard free-kick high and wide of Marco Silvestri’s crossbar for the Dons.
But Hall was on target just two minutes later to give the visitors a first-half lead, tucking the ball into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after it had rolled kindly into his path following Nicky Maynard’s run down the right.
Leeds looked to mount a response but they remained in search of a first real sight of goal as the Dons took their lead into the break, with only a blocked strike from Doukara and a header from Byram in an offside position during the closing stages of the half threatening a leveller.
Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon at the interval, returning to a more attack-minded 4-4-2 formation as Luke Murphy was sacrificed in midfield to make way for striker Mirco Antenucci.
United came agonisingly close to an equaliser on 56 minutes from a free-kick drawn by Byram following another quick break up-field from Cook. Charlie Taylor’s curling effort looked destined to nestle in the back of the Dons net, only for the ball to clip the outside of the post and bounce behind with goalkeeper David Martin rooted to the spot.
There was suddenly an added urgency in the hosts’ play and Evans looked to build on that as he made his second change shortly before the hour mark, replacing Doukara with Lee Erwin in attack.
But it was the Dons who came closest to adding the second goal of the game, with Hall firing over from range before Nicky Maynard forced Silvestri into a superb reflex save to turn behind his goalbound effort after the striker had burst into the United area.
Leeds looked to be starting the year with a frustrating defeat but were able to pull level just two minutes from time as Dons defender Antony Kay turned Taylor’s cross beyond his own goalkeeper to set up a frantic finale.
United sent men forward in numbers during five minutes of added time, but there proved to be no late drama as the spoils were shared.