LEEDS UNITED’S Championship season hit a new worrying low as Blackburn Rovers eased to a 2-0 victory on a gloomy Thursday evening at a volatile Elland Road.
Shockingly, Rovers took the lead after just 17 seconds through Craig Conway - the quickest goal conceded at Elland Road in United’s history - with Jordan Rhodes doubling Blackburn’s lead five minutes later.
Leeds then offered little threat after the break as the game turned into a side show as United’s fans vented their anger at chairman Massimo Cellino, calling for the Italian to sell the club amid chants of “we’re Leeds United, we’ve all had enough.”
United were looking to bury a disgraceful home record that amounted to 11 games at Elland Road without a victory and three defeats in a row while Rovers were seeking their first away success in ten games.
Their last win on their travels had come at Elland Road in April with Blackburn arriving one point and one place below Leeds in 19th.
The day also marked the night before the 53rd birthday of Whites head coach Steve Evans who named an unchanged starting XI and a 4-4-2 line up for the third game in a row with Jordan Botaka only returning from illness to the substitute’s bench.
As Evans had promised, an under scrutiny Marco Silvestri kept his place in goal behind a central defensive partnership of captain Sol Bamba and Liam Cooper.
Sam Byram again started at right back wih Gaeteno Berardi at left back.
With Chris Wood and Mirco Antenucci upfront, the only question mark concerned who would start where in midfield out of Stuart Dallas, Lewis Cook, Tom Adeyemi and Luke Murphy but within 17 seconds it was immaterial.
Elland Road has witnessed some sorry affairs in recent months but home woes were taken to a new level when Rovers kicked off and purposely ran at the United midfield and defence as if to sense United’s frailties at home.
And within 17 seconds they were 1-0 up with Tom Lawrence feeding Ben Marshall whose cross skimmed off Bamba’s head to Craig Conway who fired home with venom.
Moments later Rhodes was then played through one on one with Silvestri only for United to be saved by the offside flag.
But almost immediately after Lawrence galloped at the Whites defence and easily marauded his way into the area before squaring to Rhodes who finished with ease after just six minutes.
The goal was greeted by angry boos and chants of “what the f*** is going on” but still Blackburn continued to press with Lawrence again pouring forward before shooting over the bar.
More angry boors and jeers followed that chance and while United attempted to rally, Cook’s effort from 20 yards that went straight at Jason Steele was the best it got.
A long ball from Byram to Antenucci also looked promising as the Italian chased it down but Steele rushed out as the chance was cleared.
And it was Blackburn who went closest to scoring the game’s third goal when the visitors countered at United three on three with Conway crossing to Rhodes who was flagged offside just when he looked like bagging his second as Berardi hacked off the line.
At the other end, United forced a corner which almost led to a Hope Akpan goal amidst penalty claims.
But after the chaos subsided for five minutes Leeds went desperately close to pulling a goal back after a 32nd-minute free-kick from which Dallas crossed for Antenucci who volley inches wide with half of Elland Road celebrating as the ball hit the side netting.
And while United looked vulnerable every time Blackburn countered, Leeds were then very unlucky not to pull a goal back for minutes before the break when Adeyemi’s header had Steele beaten but cannoned back off the post with Bamba putting the rebound over.
But that was United’s last real chance of the half with the Whites unable to make anything of a Byram free kick inside two minutes of injury time after which Leeds were loudly booed off.
In truth, the only highlight of the half was the heart-warming minute’s applause for Whites lifesaver Skye Thompson on the 17th minute, to mark the 17 years before her sad passing.
Amidst the first half carnage, Bamba was booked for dissent meaning he will now face a one match ban for picking up his first caution.
Surprisingly, Evans opted to make no changes at the interval and the first five minutes of the second half were as flat as a pancake with Evans then opting to introduce Botaka for Adeyemi after 51 minutes.
But United offered nothing from an attacking threat and Blackburn looked all set to bag a third until Cooper stuck a foot out to tackle Conway just as he looked to pull the trigger.
Moments later, Akpan set up Taylor who volleyed straight at Silvestri who this time showed safe hands.
And attentions then turned to the terraces with United’s faithful first criticising Sky TV for moving so many of the club’s fixtures before attentions turned to chairman Cellino.
Chants of “Sky TV is f***ing s***” were followed by “Massimo, time to go”, “sell the club, f*** off home” and “We’re Leeds United, we’ve all had enough.”
The night’s attendance was then announced as 19,666 after which came a long stoppage in play following a collision between Murphy and Grant Hanley which resulted in Hanley going off the field for treatment.
And after play resumed Evans hauled off Wood for Doukara with 22 minutes remaining though the game itself was becoming a side-show.
Blackburn then made their first sub with Matt Kilgallon on for Hanley with 15 minutes remaining but the game had long been settled.
Antenucci had half a chance for Leeds with seven minutes remaining but his weak effort was easily saved by Steele, after which Rovers introduced Nathan Delfouneso for Lawrence with Alex Mowatt replacing Cook for Leeds.
Mowatt did go close for United when blazing over the bar but the outcome of this game was apparent after just six minutes.
Arguably, it was all too clear after just 17 seconds.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Cooper, Bamba, Berardi, Dallas, Adeyemi (Botaka 51), Murphy, Cook (Mowatt 85), Antenucci, Wood (Doukara 68). Subs not used: Horton, Bellusci, Wootton, Buckley.
Blackburn Rovers: Steele, Marshall, Duffy, Hanley (Kilgallon 75), Olsson, Taylor (O’Sullivan 87), Evans, Akpan, Conway, Lawrence (Delfouneso 84), Rhodes. Subs not used: Raya, Henley, Spurr, Williamson.
Referee: Tim Robinson