Leeds United second best to Fulham, despite Wood's late equaliser

'DON'T WORRY,' boomed the Elland Road PA system ahead of kick-off as Bob Marley's classic hit Three Little Birds filled the West Yorkshire night. 'Because every little thing is going to be all right.'

Chris Wood scores the equaliser from a spectacular overhead kick. Picture Bruce Rollinson

An admirable sentiment after Leeds had lost their opening two Championship fixtures and one that just about stood at full-time thanks to a dramatic late equaliser by Chris Wood.

The striker, jeered last Saturday by a section of the home fans during a 2-1 defeat to Birmingham City, netted with a spectacular overhead kick in the 92nd minute to cancel out Tom Cairney’s opener.

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It ensured what had looked like being a dispiriting night for United, who were watched by Torino defender – and prospective signing – Pontius Jansson, ended on a high as Garry Monk’s men avoided matching an unwanted club record of having lost their opening three games.

Wood’s late leveller also meant the home players left the field to a warm ovation from the 21,204 crowd. Just what the reaction would have been without Wood’s first league goal of the season is open to debate.

In truth, Leeds were second best for much of last night’s contest. Nowhere was this more apparent than in midfield, where the Fulham trio of Cairney, former Sheffield United man Kevin McDonald and Scott Parker bossed proceedings.

United, in contrast, offered plenty of endeavour but little quality or the customary bite that Liam Bridcutt, paraded before kick-off following his arrival on a two-year deal, brings to midfield.

Monk’s men did fashion a few chances before Wood’s late, late equaliser and Marcus Antonsson really should have done better when through on goalkeeper David Button during the first half.

But, Fulham created far more with Robert Green having to save brilliantly from Floyd Ayite either side of efforts from Sone Aluko and Matt Smith that crashed against the woodwork. Still, a point is a point and Monk’s side do, at least, have something to build on going into the weekend derby clash at Sheffield Wednesday.

What they will have to do at Hillsborough, however, is start more impressively than last night. Fulham were superior for much of the first half and unfortunate to see the unmarked Aluko stab a shot against the post just after the half-hour mark.

Moments earlier, the former Tigers forward had been afforded a similarly generous amount of space inside the penalty area by the Leeds backline.

However, after knocking the ball past Green, Aluko fell to the floor after colliding with the former England goalkeeper only for referee Chris Kavanagh to signal a goal kick.

Fulham’s other chance of note in the opening 45 minutes came when lively teenager Ryan Sessegnon skipped to the byline and crossed but Smith could only head straight at Green.

Leeds did have a couple of first half opportunities, the best of which fell to Antonsson after the Swede had dashed clear of the Londoners’ defence. However, with just David Button to beat in the visitors’ goal, Antonsson fired narrowly wide. Just before the interval, Antonsson also came close to turning in a Stuart Dallas cross but, in truth, it was the visitors who had most cause for regret that the game was goalless as the players left the field.

Leeds had two more let-offs early in the second half, as Ayiti was denied by a stunning save from Green before Smith’s header looped against the crossbar from the resulting corner.

At last, Leeds stirred and Button had to save smartly from Kemar Roofe before being tested by Hernandez from 20 yards.

Only a desperate block by McDonald just after the hour mark then denied Hernandez after a swift United break had opened up the visitors.

As the game opened up and play raged from one end to the other, Sessegnon wasted a gilt-edged opportunity after being played in by Parker.

Ayite then slipped at the vital moment after being set up by Cauley Woodrow before Cairney made a mess of a fine opening that had followed Roofe being dispossessed by Parker. At the other end, Antonsson couldn’t meet a Kalvin Phillips corner cleanly enough to capitalise on Button getting his angles wrong when coming to claim before the breakthrough finally came 12 minutes from time.

Cairney, after cleverly turning his marker on the edge of the area, curled an exquisite shot round Green and into the net.

It was the third season running that the former Leeds apprentice had scored at Elland Road and looked like being enough to maintain the Cottagers’ 100 per cent winning start.

Wood, however, had other ideas with a spectacular overhead kick rescuing a much-needed point to ensure there would be no repeat of that three-game losing start to 1936-37 for the Yorkshire club.

Leeds United: Green; Ayling, Bartley, Cooper, Taylor; Dallas (Vieira 58), Hernandez (Mowatt 71), Phillips, Roofe (Sacko 79); Antonsson, Wood. Unused substitutes: Bamba, Doukara, Turnbull, Coyle.

Fulham: Button; Odoi, Madl, Kalas, Sessegnon; Cairney, McDonald, Parker (Tunnicliffe 83), Ayite (Sanchez Ruiz 88), Smith (Woodrow 65), Aluko. Unused substitutes:Malone, Ream. Christensen, Joronen.

Referee: C Kavanagh (Manchester).