Becchio header gives Whites win
Neil Warnock's attempts to secure an eighth career promotion kicked off in the best possible manner as his new-look Leeds side beat Wolves 1-0.
Last Updated: 18/08/12 5:43pm
Veteran boss Warnock moved in at Elland Road part-way through last season, tempted by the desire to end his time as a manager with one last hurrah and targeted this campaign as the one where he would achieve it.
Luciano Becchio's 18th-minute diving header gave him the start he wanted today, although in truth his players were not given the test they expected from newly-relegated Wolves who had Norwegian Stale Solbakken as their manager in a league game for the first time.
Apart the notable absence of wantaway striker Steven Fletcher, he had the majority of the squad who were relegated last season at his disposal and was able to start England international Matt Jarvis, who has been the subject of strong top-flight interest.
He did little to massage that, though, as he was locked out of the game by rookie right-back Sam Byram and, with no supply on which to feed, Sylvan Ebanks-Blake and Kevin Doyle rarely had a kick for Wolves.
Leeds lost a club record 11 home games last season and Warnock, who took over in February, spent most of the second half of the season promising opposition managers they would never again encounter one of his sides that was so bad.
The way his new crop, which featured eight league debutants, began certainly indicated he would be true to his word, with Leeds doing all the running and, at large, creating most of the chances.
Six minutes had gone when Luke Varney skewed over after Ross McCormack pulled the ball back for him, before Rodolph Austin had a header blocked on the line and Byram shot wide at the end of a long goalmouth melee.
Wolves looked moderately threatening in the air and Richard Stearman's header looked as though it could trouble Paddy Kenny until team-mate Ebanks-Blake blocked it with his arm and, less than 60 seconds later, Leeds were ahead.
McCormack was the provider, racing free down the left on to Kenny's raking clearance and whipping in a cross that skipped across goal and found and unmarked and diving Becchio who did the rest at the back post.
After a frenetic start a period of calm followed, although Warnock had something to think about when Paul Green limped two minutes before the break, with El Hadji Diouf sent on for a first league appearance for the club.
Wolves had held a high defensive line throughout the opening half and seemed determined to carry on with doing so in the second, although it should have cost them another goal with 53 minutes gone, but Varney's touch evaded him as he broke clear.
Varney was not the only player to show early-season rustiness, though, with Wolves debutant Slavomir Peszko's cross finding no-one after Aidy White's slip allowed him to break in to the Leeds box.
The introduction of Peszko did pep Wolves up, though, and they started to enjoy more of the ball as a result of his presence, even if it was without hurting Leeds too much.
They had two chances when Ebanks-Blake skinned White and was dragged back on the edge of the box and when Jarvis clipped a shot across goal but their poor start had left them up against it and Leeds saw the game out.