Leeds United denied fairytale of ‘New York’ by familiar bad guy - Graham Smyth's Rotherham Verdict
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Former Whites man Peltier, now 36 and into his second season at Rotherham United, was caught on camera crunching the leg of Daniel James with the kind of challenge that can only ever be dealt with by a red card. Fortunately for the defender Langford and his officials missed it. Unfortunately for Leeds it took place in the area and would likely have decided the game, one way or another, in Leeds' favour.Later, in stoppage time, Leeds were stripped of a winning goal by an offside flag that went up almost as soon as Patrick Bamford stuck out a toe to connect with a ball bound for the boot of Jaidon Anthony. Into the net it went, but not onto the scoreboard. The sarcasm dripped from Daniel Farke as he spoke after the 1-1 draw of how keen the linesman was to spot Bamford being two inches offside. Offside is offside, though and besides, there was no need for Leeds to ever leave this game in the hands of the officials. It was their own finishing and their own uncomfortable degree of comfort that proved the bad guy.Leeds are plenty good enough to go up this season but if they are to do so then they must learn that when an opponent is down you have to do whatever it takes to finish them off. This is not the first time since the campaign began that Leeds have got in their own way and robbed themselves of a victory their performance deserved, through wastefulness or a lack of killer instinct. What must have frustrated the life out of Farke was that they had the three magic beans in the palm of their hand, at 1-0 up and creating chance after chance, and yet did not make it home with all three.The manager and his side did not have a comfortable week of preparation for this one as the international break had its way with their training schedule, but having come through the summer mess and a mass exodus, the lack of training time together was a relatively trivial matter to deal with. It wasn't a night for comfort, anyway, at a Baltic New York Stadium, against a side scrapping for their Championship lives and playing the according football.There was certainly no comfort to be enjoyed by Peltier against his former side, with Leeds' flying Dutchman Crysencio Summerville eyeing the veteran up as the next in a long line of Championship prey. It took just six minutes for Summerville to get in behind, thanks to Georginio Rutter's incisive, round-the-corner pass, and perfectly curl the ball into the far corner for an opener.Farke spoke before the game of the effect the first goal could have in forcing Rotherham to come out from behind a compact defensive shell, but the managerless Millers didn't, not really, and by the midway point of the half there hadn't been much more in the way of noteworthy moments. The two sides did eventually trade chances, James scurrying free down the right only to blaze the finish high and wide, before Sam Nombe sliced an effort just over the bar.
That was when the visitors took over. It began with Piroe playing Summerville in against Peltier, who he got the best of only to be halted by goalkeeper Viktor Johansson. Summerville's defensive work outside his own area from a Millers corner presented another chance to break, the winger haring away and ignoring the unmarked Piroe to play in Glen Kamara instead, the Finnish international only able to find the side netting.When Piroe volleyed over the top from 10 yards out, that little niggle of doubt over the arrival of a second goal, the killer goal, started to creep in. And when Leeds lost the ball near halfway they were soon punished for their wastefulness, and some sloppy defending to boot. There was a heavy touch from Junior Firpo, a giveaway by Summerville, a duel Liam Cooper didn't win, a cross Firpo did not get back in time to block, a clearance Ethan Ampadu did not make and a tangle neither Joe Rodon nor Archie Gray could sort, before Hakeem Odoffin spun to beat Meslier.That equaliser came in the first half's solitary minute of time added on and Farke would later summarise it as a symptom of his side enjoying their own dominance a little too much. They got a little too comfortable with their obvious superiority and forgot to prove it definitively on the scoreboard, before the Championship humbled them.For a moment in the early stages of the second half it looked as if the punishment wasn't quite done with them, but Cooper managed to block on the line after an Ampadu header was cut out, albeit with a suspicion of handball.Rotherham did a good job of stifling the visitors as the half progressed and their refusal to go chasing and vacating space led to Leeds forcing it, trying things that weren't quite on and wasting possession. So Farke changed it, going to three at the back and putting Ian Poveda in the middle with Patrick Bamford up top and Willy Gnonto on the right.The switches did provoke something, some good moments, but in none of them was Johansson overly troubled. Gnonto lashed over from a wonderful James delivery. Bamford shot wide from distance. Pascal Struijk, on for the injured Cooper, headed past the post. Even when Leeds did get the ball in the net, Johansson wasn't beaten because up went the flag.
In amongst it all was the penalty shout that no one really heard until after the game but even if Langford had spotted it and someone, Piroe most likely, had stuck away the penalty, it would not have changed the fact that Leeds were the biggest cause of their own discomfort on a bitterly cold Friday night in South Yorkshire. A bit of mild peril makes for a good story but when you're on top in a Championship battle you need to do what it takes to stay there. With players of the calibre possessed by Leeds this season, the biggest demons they will have to slay, if they want a happy ending, will be of their own creation.