Leeds United . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
A LAST-GASP debut goal by Brian Deane rescued Leeds from an opening-match defeat that would have been even more demoralising than all their failures away from Elland Road last season. Rarely can a 1-1 draw have been so one-sided, yet four minutes from the end it looked as though Garry Flitcroft had compounded Leeds's inability to put away a stream of chances by doing just that with the only shot City got on target all afternoon.
They had been outpaced in thought and deed by a rejuvenated Leeds, strengthened in key positions and again looking the flowing attacking side that lifted the title two years ago. But for some inspired goalkeeping by Tony Coton, the search for an away win would already be over.
Howard Wilkinson, the Leeds manager, chose to mix and match age and experience for his new autumn outfit, David O'Leary coming in to the centre of defence with Deane leading the attack alongside 18-year-old Noel Whelan, with another teenager, Gary Kelly, at right-back. The new combination lacked just one attribute - the ability to score.
Deane showed that he is more than an awkwardly built poacher, playing a neat one-two with Tony Dorigo which ended with the full- back shooting over, and setting up Speed with a near-post back- header.
Coton continued to deny the rampant Leeds, saving brilliantly from Deane and Whelan. When he was beaten, Speed hit the bar. Then came what looked like the sucker punch.
Flitcroft found Rick Holden on the right, who fed Mike Sheron. John Lukic parried the shot but Flitcroft stuck away the rebound. Deane put the ball into the net moments later but was denied for pushing. In the dying seconds the ball fell to him again and he could not miss from two yards with Coton, for once, stranded. Howard Wilkinson summed it up. 'Coton stood between us and a reasonable victory. We had a flawless afternoon but three of four saves were inspired.'
Manchester City (4-4-2): T Coton; A Hill, M Vonk, K Curle (D Brightwell, 62 min), K Phelan; R Holden, G Flitcroft, S McMahon, F Simpson, (P Reid, 82 min); M Sheron, D White. Sub not used: A Dibble (gk). Manager: P Reid.
Leeds United: (4-4-2): J Lukic; G Kelly, C Fairclough, D O'Leary, T Dorigo; G Strachan (Rod Wallace, 71 min), D Batty, G McAllister, G Speed; B Deane, N Whelan. Subs nor used: J Newsome, M Beeney (gk). Manager: H Wilkinson.
Referee: D Gallagher (Banbury)
Goals: Flitcroft (1-0, 86 min); Deane (1-1, 90 min)