NEIL REDFEARN returned to haunt his former club Leeds United as his Rotherham United side recorded a 1-0 victory in an ill-tempered Championship clash at Elland Road.
Joe Newell settled the tie with his 54th-minute header before mayhem ensued on 73 minutes when Rotherham’s Leon Best and United’s Gaetano Berardi were both shown straight red cards.
Best caught the full back with an elbow that left him with a bloody nose but Berardi reacted angrily by pushing the player which also landed him an early bath.
Leeds were seeking to make it three wins on the spin under head coach Steve Evans yet that plan was ruined by his former club who were bagging just their third win of the season and first under Redfearn.
Evans named the same XI fielded at Huddersfield Town with the Glaswegian unable to feature captain Sol Bamba who, it was emerged, had broken his toe this week.
Bamba will be out for a couple of weeks with Liam Cooper captaining the side and partnering Giuseppe Bellusci at the centre of defence.
United’s first threat arrived after five minutes with Mirco Antenucci winning a free-kick 30 yards out from which Alex Mowatt produced a decent delivery that was cleared.
Rotherham then countered at the other end but Best blazed his effort from just outside the area over the crossbar.
The Millers were then presented with a potentially dangerous tenth-minute free-kick when Berardi fouled Grant Ward but Joe Newell’s right flank delivery was headed just wide by Best.
But from another Rotherham attack, Leeds then countered through Chris Wood who attempted to cross for Mirco Antenucci but danger was averted for a foul.
At the other end, Rotherham won their first corner which was cleared and just two minutes later United thought they had taken the lead through Stuart Dallas.
A flowing attack ended with Lee Camp parrying Wood’s shot to the Northern Ireland international who easily finished only to race away and be greeted by the linesman’s flag for offside.
Rotherham’s Joe Mattock then picked up the game’s first yellow card for clattering Dallas after which the Millers attacked again through Best who danced into the United area from the left flank before being dispossessed by Bellusci.
But as the half hour mark approached United began to turn the screw with Dallas finding Alex Mowatt who was denied by a fantastic scrambling save from Camp who parried the ball away for a corner.
Mowatt had blazed wide from range moments earlier and Lewis Cook then saw an effort deflected behind with Camp then forced to push an Antenucci cross over the bar before Bellusci’s long range effort was gathered under the bar.
But from United’s best spell of pressure Rotherham broke through Jonson Clarke-Harris who was hauled down by Bellusci for a dangerous free-kick on the edge of the area.
Richard Smallwood stepped up and produced a fine curling effort that hit the left hand post but referee Keith Stroud ordered a retake as Antenucci was booked for breaking too early from the wall.
Smallwood tried his luck again but this time his effort hit the wall and the ball was cleared with United’s next chance arriving through a 34th-minute corner which referee Stroud initially gave as a goal-kick before changing his mind.
But that corner was also cleared as the game developed into something of a mad battling scramble, crying out for an element of class.
Instead Dallas upended Joe Newell to give Rotherham another soft free-kick but Grant Ward’s delivery was easily caught by Silvestri.
Leeds then pushed on at the other end to force two more corners but they were both cleared with an injury time Millers corner also coming to nothing.
And an uninspiring half was then brought to an end by Stroud with Evans making no changes at half time but Rotherham boss Redfearn bringing on Harry Toffolo for Joe Mattock.
Leeds attacked from the off and Antenucci almost scored within ten seconds of the retstart as his low effort wizzed narrowly past Camp’s right hand post.
After another quiet five minutes, United again went close to taking the lead when Wood’s inviting delivery was begging to be nodded home by Antenucci who could not make the required connection.
But just two minutes later Rotherham shocked Elland Road by taking the lead.
United were too slow to clear their lines from what looked like a harmless Millers attack and the ball was fed to Smallwood who produced a fine cross to a completely unmarked Newell who beat Silvestri all ends up with a clinical header into the top corner.
The goal brought chants of “Evans, what’s the score” from the travelling Rotherham contingent with Kirk Broadfoot then entering Stroud’s notebook for dissent.
Leeds then went close to immediately levelling when Wood fed Luke Murphy whose deflected effort went narrowly wide of Camp’s right-hand post.
But Rotherham were still causing Leeds all sorts of problems at the other end with Bellusci forced to hack away a dangerous cross from Newell before Silvestri produced a decent low save to deny Best.
Murphy was then booked for a late tackle on Lee Frecklington but Leeds then squandered their best chance yet when Antenucci smashed the ball wide from 12 yards from Wood’s knockdown.
Evans then reached for a double change with Jordan Botaka and Tom Adeyemi comimng on for Dallas and Murphy but Rotherham then forced a corner which caused panic in the United box before danger was averted as Frecklington headed over.
But mayhem then ensued in the 73rd-minute as Rotherham’s Best and United’s Berardi were both shown straight red cards.
Best caught Berardi with an elbow which left Whites assistant Paul Raynor particularly incensed but Berardi’s reaction was always going to land him a red card.
The full back angrily pushed Best away with both hands and then had to be physically held back by the linesman.
Both players were dismissed as the fourth official and linesman both attempted to calm down Evans who was staring at a defeat against his former club.
Leeds were then presented with a 25-yard free-kick which Bellusci walloped over the bar and Redfearn then brought on Danny Ward for Jonson Clarke-Harris as the game entered the final ten minutes.
United were now going three at the back and a long ball sent Ward on a chase after which he squared up with Bellusci for which both players were booked.
Evans then opted to haul on Lee Erwin for Cook with five minutes left and United tried desperately hard to find an equaliser with Botaka’s cross fizzing across goal but ultimately going out for a throw.
Redfearn then made his final change with Danny Collins brought on for Newell as six minutes of injury time were announced.
In the first of those, Antenucci’s cross presented Wood with a free header that was directed straight at Camp.
United continued to pour forward but a dangerous right wing attack was ended when Antenucci’s cross sailed over and wide.
And that would prove United’s final chance with Rotherham actually having the game’s final chance when Ward raced away from Mowatt and flashed an effort just wide in the sixth minute of injury time.
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas (Botaka 67), Cook (Erwin 85), Murphy (Adeyemi 67), Mowatt, Antenucci, Wood. Subs not used: Horton, Byram, Buckley, Doukara.
Rotherham: Camp, Buxton, Kelly, Broadfoot, Mattock (Toffolo 45); G Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Newell (Collins 90); Clarke-Harris (Ward 80), Best. Subs not used: Collin, Andreu, Barker, Derbyshire.
Referee: Keith Stroud.
Attendance: 25,802 (905 Rotherham).