It certainly wasn’t pretty but Leeds United’s 2-0 win over Rotherham was a sign of how things have improved under Steve Evans in recent weeks.
It was only seven weeks ago that the Whites lost to Neil Redfearn’s men in as disappointing a performance as anything we have seen in recent times.
However, on Saturday, despite Leeds being nowhere near their best, they were never really in any trouble in this FA Cup rematch.
The hardy 16,000 who braved the seemingly incessent rain that has battered West Yorkshire in 2016 were made to wait for the goals, as Leeds huffed and puffed for 45 minutes before striking late on in each half. What will be worrying is that despite looking comfortable throughout the match, there was still no real attacking threat.
The goals came from a wonder strike from debutant Mustapha Carayol and a defensive howler that Soulemayne Doukara capatalised on to seal the win. But other than that, Leeds looked toothless up top, highlighting the need to bring in a striker in the transfer window.
Leeds went with two up front, but Mirco Antenucci’s display was one of a man very unhappy with his lot. His workrate is normally a redeeming feature, but on Saturday he looked disinterested and if bids are coming in from Italy for him, then it seems a sensible decision for all parties to let him go.
Whilst Antenucci looks to be on his way out, the two debutants were far more impressive.
Carayol was pacy, looked to take players on and most importantly seemed to have an end product. He produced a couple of dangerous crosses and was willing to have a dig, illustrated by his stunning strike just before half-time which set Leeds on their way.
More quiet, but equally assured was Lewie Coyle at right-back. Despite some understandable nervousness in the opening minutes, he grew into his role, and with Charlie Taylor producing his usual excellent performance, Leeds look to have two very good young full-backs.
Steve Evans wants one of the big boys in the fourth round but personally I fancy a cup run this year, so anybody beatable at home would do me.
The league might be the bread and butter, but surely we deserve a treat every now and then, and what better treat than a trip to Wembley.
Man of the match: Lewie Coyle.
Leeds continued unbeaten in a largely forgettable game at Elland Road.
Two players who may not feel the same are Mustpha Carayol, who marked his debut with an astonishing strike following his loan move from Middlesbrough, and Lewie Coyle, making an accomplished first start.
The 2-0 win puts the club in the draw for the fourth round to be made later today (Monday).
As expected Steve Evans made changes to the team that drew with MK Dons a week before. In came Coyle, Carayol, Antenucci and Bellusci. Kalvin Phillips made the bench alongside Lewis Cook and Stuart Dallas.
With three games in the space of seven days I was a little surprised that there weren’t a few more given a rest.
Lee Erwin was absent from the 18 because of injury.
The game started well for Leeds but it looked like the first half would end scoreless until a piece of brilliance from Carayol that would have graced the FA Cup final never mind a third-round tie. The superb shot simply flew past Lee Camp in the Rotherham goal.
Leeds failed to maintain their impetus in a second half that was end to end, but with neither side having the cutting edge.
Rotherham nearly equalised but Marco Silvestri turned the effort around the upright.
With time nearly up Souleymane Doukara made certain of progress to the next round when he made the most of a howler by Lee Camp and a Rotherham defender.
Leeds travel to Ipswich on Tuesday and hopefully both Bellusci and Carayol will be available as they were substituted late in the game.
A tough game awaits and a better performance will be needed to gain even a share of the points.
Men of the match: Mustapha Carayol and Lewis Coyle.
Cup ties are all about the result and getting in the hat for the next round, but Mustapha Carayol put the gloss on United’s progression to round four of the FA Cup with a superb opening goal and first class debut on Saturday. The game was put to bed by Soylemeyne Doukara.
Man of the match: Mustapha Carayol.
This was a stuttering performance from Leeds and for most of the first half was one of those Leeds games we wouldn’t remember much longer than the drive home.
But new boy Mustapha Carayol lit up Elland Road with a goal worthy of winning the cup never mind this third-round tie. Carayol had a rip in his Leeds shirt and he nearly ripped the net with his shot.
We wobbled at times in the second half but something is changing around Leeds and the planets finally seem to be aligning in our favour as evidenced by another gift from a visiting defence. Lee Camp and one of his defenders allowed Souleymane Doukara to nip in and put some gloss on the scoreline.
Man of the match: Liam Bridcutt.
The win was all that mattered on Saturday. Both teams were poor but we were worthy winners. We created some good chances but it showed yet again that we need to bring in another striker. We’re in the hat for the next round and hopefully we can go on a run!
Man of the match: Lewie Coyle.