Leeds United 1, Burnley 1

The Clarets earned a dramatic point on the opening day of the 2015/16 campaign as they drew 1-1 with Leeds United at Elland Road.

Saturday, 8th August 2015, 2:24 pm
Sam Vokes celebrates his equaliser

The substitutes did the business in Yorkshire as Sam Vokes cancelled out Mirco Antenucci’s opener late on.

Antenucci netted in the 83rd minute to give United the lead, but Vokes struck with four minutes of normal time remaining to silence the majority of the 27,672 supporters housed within the stadium.

Just 15 minutes in to the season the Clarets found themselves questioning the decisions of the match official, with Kevin Friend ignoring two penalty claims.

Sam Vokes celebrates his equaliser

The first incident arrived just minutes in to the game with Charlie Taylor closely monitoring Lukas Jutkiewicz.

Summer signing Jelle Vossen supplied the delivery and strike partner Jutkiewicz acrobatically found the stands as he was pulled to the turf by his marker.

Nothing given - not even a hint of deliberation from Friend or his linesman as a goal kick was awarded to the hosts.

The second - seemingly more blatant - saw Giuseppe Bellusci handle a third of the way through the first half.

Sam Vokes heads the Clarets level

A moment of indecision in the home side’s midfield was capitalised on by Vossen, the Belgian clipped a ball in to Jutkiewicz and the forward’s clever touch was blocked by the defender’s raised arm.

The positioning of the Italian’s arm was unnatural as, again, was Friend’s conclusion as Tendayi Darikwa walked towards the pocket of protesting Clarets fans to take the resulting throw in.

Photographer’s pitchside, who captured the incident, showed the ball almost glued to Bellusci’s hand.

There was action sandwiched in-between the controversy. Stuart Dallas, signed by Uwe Rosler from Brentford, had his half-volley flicked on to the bar by new Clarets skipper Tom Heaton after Sam Byram’s delivery had dipped beyond Darikwa.

United skipper Sol Bamba was then booked in the aftermath for a reckless challenge on Jutkiewicz on the touchline - directly in front of a vehement Sean Dyche.

Dallas was presented with another excellent opportunity soon after, but the midfielder failed to connect properly with Byram’s delivery to the back post and Heaton saved low to his left.

Once Bellusci’s speculative attempt was gathered by Heaton, the visitors manufactured their best opening of the fixture.

The ball was worked infield by George Boyd, Jutkiewicz held off full back Gaetano Berardi to feed Michael Kightly to his left but the winger’s side-footed effort squirmed wide of the far post.

And in a positive spell around the half-hour mark, the Clarets went close again. Goalkeeper Marco Silvestri was unconvincing when attempting to claim David Jones’s corner and Vossen’s shot from deep inside the box was flicked wide of the upright.

Celebrations from the travelling supporters, who thought the effort had nestled in the corner of the net, were soon muted when the ball came back off the hoardings.

In the final action of the half, Jutkiewicz’s sweeping strike from Kightly’s assist was saved by Silvestri low to the keeper’s left.

The hosts forced the initiative in the embryonic stages after the break, but former Leicester City striker Chris Wood failed to convert his header from Berardi’s centre.

Alex Mowatt also went agonisingly close to breaking the deadlock but his left-footed effort flashed beyond Heaton and the upright after Wood poked Byram’s cross in to his path.

Wood then blazed over with a stinging right-footed drive after latching on to Byram’s flick on from Silvestri’s clearance.

Dyche made a double change up top with Marvin Sordell replacing Vossen and Vokes replacing Jutkiewicz, but only after the latter had tested Silvestri at the end of a flowing move involving Ben Mee, Michael Keane, Vossen and Arfield.

Uwe Rosler then made the change, withdrawing Dallas and introducing Antenucci.

The 30-year-old, former Torino forward’s first contribution was to lift an effort over the bar after driving at Darikwa and trying his luck from an acute angle.

But the substitute’s next involvement was slightly more meaningful for the home side. The Italian’s feint took Mee out of the equation on the edge of the box and in the next instance the number seven came inside and shaped a beautiful effort in to the corner.

That could’ve been game over - but the hosts dismissed the ‘never say die’ attitude of their opponents. Dyche’s men just don’t know when their beaten - a trait that will serve them well for the forthcoming Championship term.

Just three minutes later - in the 86th minute - they were level. Boyd and Darikwa worked the ball down the right and the latter supplied Vokes who beat Bellusci in the air before guiding a delightful header in to the corner.

The points were shared out and, on the balance of play, was probably the appropriate outcome.

Attention now turns to the Capital One Cup as the Clarets travel to Port Vale on Tuesday, kick-off 7-45 p.m.