Leeds United 1 West Brom 1: Luke Ayling provides a shaft of light as Whites show character and guts - and don't feel sorry for themselves

AUGUST has been lousy, forgettable, grey, depressing and devoid of sunshine.

For Leeds United, that has been nothing necessarily to do with the weather, as rough as it has been.

It looked like a case of things getting worse before getting better on Friday night as the maxim that sides who are doing it tough invariably are not blessed with fortune applied when Brandon Thomas-Asante's hand inadvertently diverted Jayson Molumby's 52nd-minute strike into the net to give Albion a fortuitious opening. No VAR in the Championship.

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That Leeds would show considerable character and level, thanks to a captain's effort from Luke Ayling, was important.

Luke Ayling shoots at goal before coming up with the equaliser for Leeds United against West Brom. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)Luke Ayling shoots at goal before coming up with the equaliser for Leeds United against West Brom. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)
Luke Ayling shoots at goal before coming up with the equaliser for Leeds United against West Brom. (Picture: Bruce Rollinson)

Ayling rose high at the far post to head home a cross from the impressive Dan James. The goal was a good one and the United' stalwart's look of determination afterwards was quite wonderful.

Leeds need plenty more of that going forward. No maiden first league win yet for Daniel Farke, but the home fans' positive reaction at the end was telling. A shaft of much-needed light.

Leeds's efforts weren't perfect, but they were never going to be. They at least showcased a side not feeling sorry for themselves and just as telling was the fact that a defiant crowd bought into their hearty efforts.

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For Leeds, inspection of the teamsheet focused on the names not on it, as opposed to those that were.

The absentee count, for differing reasons, was into double figures, with reports circulating ahead of kick-off that wantaway forward Wilfried Gnonto had submitted a written transfer request in a bid to push through a move to Everton.

The timing stank and Leeds supporters showed what they thought of it seconds into the game in no uncertain terms.

As with their Leeds counterparts, West Brom followers cannot say, with any degree of authority, what their side will look like after the transfer deadline and the first international week.

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There may but uncertainty behind the scenes at Albion, but at least they could field a full bench.

Leeds named just five outfield players among seven names on their substitutes, which featured two goalkeepers. It was indicative of the travails Farke is currently facing.

Carlos Corberan has predicted a ‘crazy’ final week of the window at Albion and it has the potential to be positively manic at Elland Road.

Amid trying circumstances, Leeds produced a decent opening half in which James led the way with his hunger, energy, drive and attitude.

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James bothered Albion to such an extent that Darnell Furlong and Molumby copped a booking and forced Alex Palmer into meaningful work to parry a low drive at his near post in the nick of time. It was an unlikely source in Jamie Shackleton who went closest to an opener midway through the half.

Unfortunately, the luck that Leeds crave deserted them, with his shot taking a huge deflection off Cedric Kipre and leaving Palmer wrong-footed - but the ball would strike the post instead and nestling in the net as most of Elland Road wanted.

Albion, in possession of a couple of handy weapons at second-tier level in John Swift and Jed Wallace, were kept quiet aside from a couple of flurries on the counter, with Illan Meslier not forced into any sort of work.

Joe Rodon, on his full debut, slotted in nicely after being preferred to Charlie Cresswell in the heart of the backline. While Leeds made a fair fist of things, the options on Albion’s bench represented a worry. By contrast, the hosts had little in their armoury, with no disrespect. In the event, the visiting players already out there stepped things up a notch and their renewed vigour would pay off, perhaps aided by a few choice interval words from Corberan.

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Albion’s first moment of incision - and effort on goal - saw Meslier produce his first serious work, tipping Wallace’s first-timer onto the bar from Thomas-Asante’s low cross.

Soon after, those who travelled up from the Black Country were celebrating an opener with Molumby’s shot taking a couple of deflections before creeping into the net, almost apologetically.

Ferocious appeals for a penalty from the Kop after Kipre challenged Gelhardt were ignored, while James couldn’t bundle the ball in following Ayling’s centre soon after.

The winger was soon cursing the presence of Palmer for splendidly tipping over his equally fine curler.

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James and Leeds persisted and his juicy cross was attacked by Ayling, who rose above Erik Pieters to plant home a powerful header.

Pieters’ night was soon curtailed by a clearly displeased Corberan when he was hauled off. Corberan’s mood almost darkened further, but the on-message Palmer again delivered to keep out Gelhardt’s stinging drive.

Rutter almost won it, but the house was not brought down.

Leeds United: Meslier; Ayling, Rodon, Struijk, Byram; Gray, Ampadu; Shackleton, Gelhardt (Greenwood 83), James; Rutter. Unused substitutes: Klaesson, Darlow, Cresswell, Gyabi, Bate, Drameh.

West Brom: Palmer, Furlong, Kipre, Ayayi, Pieters (Townsend 75); Molumby, Yokuslu (Chalobah 85); Wallace (Gardner-Hickman 85), Swift (Sarmniento 68), Phillips; Thomas-Asante (Maja 75). Unused substitutes: Griffiths, Bartley, Mowatt, Fellows.

Referee: M Donohue (Greater Manchester).