UNITED IN TEN GOAL THRILLER
Benedicic rescues a point late on for Leeds
Martyn Woolford 21, 27
Lee Martin 46
Scott McDonald 72
John Marquis 77
LEEDS UNITED 5
Souleymane Doukara 49
Mirko Antenucci 60, 68, 83(pen)
Zan Benedicic 85
Josh Townend's new look Leeds side made the 500-mile round trip down to East London for what would prove to be a tricky opener away at Millwall.
It was the hosts that fashioned out the first chance of the game, as Ricardo Fuller put the ball over the bar after some good work from Ed Upson. Martyn Woolford had the next decent opportunity he headed a Lee Martin cross over the crossbar as Millwall looked to take the lead early on.
And it was the same player who put Ian Holloway's men in front just after 20 minutes, as Woolford connected with a Lee Martin corner from the Millwall right-hand side to volley past the helpless Silvestri for 1-0. Woolford then put the home side 2-0 up just six minutes later as he was found by an Ed Upson corner to stroke home from ten yards out.
Stunned by the double they had just been hit by, United went out in search of a goal to put them back in the game and almost found as a Souleymane Doukara header was tipped over the bar after a good cross from Sam Byram. From the following corner, Liam Cooper nearly halved the deficit following a Jason Pearce flick on, but the young centre-back was denied on the line by Tom King. The visitors continued to press, and Chris Eagles was next to come close from two free-kicks, both narrowly missed David Forde's goal. There were no further incidents of note and Millwall went into half time with a 2-0 lead.
The hosts were back at it in the second half and extended the lead to 3-0 barely a minute after the restart as Lee Martin fired a 30-yard screamer into the top corner after his long ball forward was initially headed clear by Sam Byram.
United threw the kitchen sink at Millwall, desperate for a goal to put them back in with a shout, and they found one three minutes later as David Forde parried a Lewis Cook effort straight into the path of Doukara who coolly slotted into an empty net for 3-1.
Buoyed by Doukara's strike, Townend's men went in search of a second goal to put them right back in it, and almost found it on 51 minutes when Lewis Cook played in Mirko Antenucci who struck just wide first time from outside the area. Doukara was to then chance his arm in search of a second but he put his effort over the bar after he played in by Chris Eagles.
The visitors continued to mount the pressure, but Millwall broke and almost found the back of the net, but Ed Upson blazed his effort over the bar after a good through ball from Martyn Woolford.
Leeds weren't going to roll over easily and could have been celebrating, but Chris Eagles fired his long range shot over the bar after being played in by Rudy Austin. United were right back in it moments later however, as Byram found Antenucci in the box after some good play down the right-hand side and the Italian was able to slot it past an onrushing David Forde to reduce the deficit further to 3-2.
Both sides made changes shortly after, Danny Shittu came off the bench for Millwall to replace Byron Webster whilst Zan Benedicic came on to replace Austin.
Inspired by the opening 15 minutes of the second half, Leeds continued to press in search of an equaliser and almost found one five minutes past the hour mark as Doukara saw his long range swerving effort go wide of the goal. Eagles was next to try his luck from a free-kick which went narrowly over the bar. United were level moments later after a defense-splitting through ball from Doukara put Antenucci through on goal who fired home to put the whites level for his second of the afternoon.
Antenucci's equaliser acted as a wake-up call from the hosts who quickly responded four minutes later after Scott McDonald struck from a header from Scott Malone's cross, following a quick counter-attack to make it 4-3.
United continued to press- yet again in search of an equaliser- and almost provided an immediate response through Souleymane Doukara who narrowly missed the target from close range after a good cross from Benedicic.
However, the hosts extended their lead two minutes later after a ball forward from Shaun Williams found John Marquis who rose above Souleymane Doukara to make it 5-3 to Millwall.
The visitors weren't going down without a fight, and were awarded a penalty five minutes later after Scott Malone was penalised for handball in the area. Marko Antenucci stepped up and sent David Forde the wrong way, rounding off his hat-trick and putting Leeds right back in it with seven minutes plus stoppage time left to play.
United were rewarded for their persistence two minutes later, as Benedicic picked up on a loose ball following a John Marquis slide tackle on Antenucci and fired home a rocket from 30 yards to put the scores level once again at 5-5. It was a brilliant effort from the young Slovenian and was no more than Townend's men deserved for their fight and resistance in the second half.
Doukara came close to bagging a winner for United, after being put through one-on-one by Antenucci, but the Frenchman's snapshot effort was parried behind by the Millwall keeper. Leeds continued to press in the last few minutes in search of a winner but couldn't find one, so they were made to settle for a point which one the basis of the second half performance, the players can be justly proud of.