Leeds United: Doncaster Rovers 1 Leeds United 1 (AET, 1-1 90 minutes, Rovers win 4-2 on pens) – Whites crash out on penalties

United's Souleymane Doukara closes down Rovers' Rob Jones.
United's Souleymane Doukara closes down Rovers' Rob Jones.
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SAM Byram and Chris Wood skied penalties over the bar as ten-man Leeds United crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle after a 4-2 loss on penalties at Doncaster Rovers.

SAM Byram and Chris Wood skied penalties over the bar as ten-man Leeds United crashed out of the Capital One Cup at the first hurdle after a 4-2 loss on penalties at Doncaster Rovers.

Leeds looked to be on course for victory in an action-packed first half after Lewis Cook’s first goal for the club but Scott Wootton then took out Cedric Evina for a penalty converted by Andy Williams before Cook was handed a straight red card for a rash challenge on Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.

Rovers then missed a raft of chances in the second half before fading as the game went into extra-time in which Mirco Antenucci struck the post.

The game was to be decided on the lottery of spot kicks in which the wild efforts of Byram and Wood ended a miserable night for Leeds just three days before Sunday’s Championship trip to Reading.

Uwe Rosler hinted beforehand that there would not be widescale changes considering the small size of his squad and the head coach swapped just five players from the team that lined up for Saturday’s draw against Burnley.

In came Saturday’s goalscoring hero Mirco Antenucci for Chris Wood in the line striker role, with Souleymane Doukara taking the right wing slot from Sam Byram.

Scott Wootton was introduced into the holding midfield role in place of Tom Adeyemi who didn’t even make the bench with Alex Moatt and Lewis Cook the midfielders dropping behind the sole striker, as against Burnley.

And as well as Ross Turnbull making his United debut in goal, Liam Cooper replaced Sol Bamba as centre-back and captain, partnering Giuseppe Bellusci with Charlie Taylor and Gaetano Berardi at left back and right back respectively.

And after an even opening ten minutes it was one of those players brought into the side that instigated the night’s opening goal after 14 minutes.

It was clear from his performance as substitute in Saturday’s draw with Burnley that Antenucci had the bit between his teeth and the in-form Italian showed great pace to skin Rob Jones just inside the left flank.

His low shot was then saved by ‘keeper Thorsten Stuckmann but the custodian could only parry the ball to the onrushing Cook who kept his composure to stroke home a bobbling ball for his first United goal.

That breakthrough sent the large away following wild and Rovers were struggling to get to grips with Leeds but the hosts almost equalised after 21 minutes when James Coppinger lobbed an exposed Turnbull who was grateful to see Bellusci hacking the ball off the line.

But just moments later United almost doubled their lead when a right-sided counter attack led to Doukara fizzing the ball across goal with Mowatt agonisingly close to sliding in and bagging United’s second.

Dallas then saw an effort from 18 yards blocked by Andy Butler but the home crowd were then brought to life after 31 minutes when Wootton charged into Cedric Evina in the penalty area.

The challenge looked a stone-wall penalty with Keith Hill sure enough pointing to the spot and up stepped Andy Williams to fire home into the bottom right corner, just past the outstretched hands of Turnbull who dived the right way.

With the hosts now having their tails up, Williams then forced a save from Turnbull from 20 yards while at the other end Mowatt’s effort was easily dealt with.

But a simmering atmosphere was then brought to boiling point after 34 minutes when Cook went from hero to zero by lunging in on Aaron Taylor-Sinclair on the right wing.

The challenge brought the entire stadium to their feet as the home faithful bayed for blood and sure enough Cook was shown a straight-red card that will result in a three-game ban.

In fairness to Cook, he went straight to stricken player, clearly worried he had caused a nasty injury but the only damage was a game-changing red card.

The momentum has now swung firmly in Doncaster’s favour and while a looping Wootton header temporarily looked like deceiving Stuckmann, the hosts ended the half by going desperately close to going in front.

Evina danced through the United defence before feeding Coppinger who approached Turnbull at an angle but could only fizz his effort inches wide of the right hand post.

Leeds at least ended the half with a free-kick which was safely cleared but the pendulum had seemingly twice sung firmly in Doncaster’s favour, eradicating United’s decent start.

The second half naturally began with Rovers pressing through two early corners as Leeds shifted to a two-man midfield of Mowatt and Wootton with three men up front in Doukara, Antenucci and Dallas.

The official attendance was then announced as 8,361 and with 3,394 in the away end that meant almost half of those present were supporting Rosler’s Whites.

That travelling contingent as ever, remained in fine voice but it was Rovers calling the shots with Coppinger firing over from range and Taylor clattering into the same player for a free-kick 20 yards out.

Leeds ultimately cleared and a fine run from Antenucci produced a corner which was also cleared as United’s travelling contingent turned up the volume to impressive levels in the stand - support applauded by Rosler.

But Doncaster were quite clearly looking the more threatening and Rosler opted to withdraw Doukara for the back-from-injury Luke Murphy with Wood replacing Dallas.

Rovers boss Paul Dickov responded by swapping Evina for Nathan Tyson while Rosler had a last throw of the dice in throwing on Sam Byram for Mowatt.

And after Doncaster’s Jones had headed a chance straight at Turnbull, United’s fans were incensed not to be awarded a penalty for Luke McCullough’s shirt-pulling antics on Wood.

At the other end, Tyson skipped his way past numerous challenges into the Leeds area but was brilliantly tackled by Taylor with ten minutes left.

Still Doncaster continued to press and Coppinger blazed another cross-cum-shot wide before a hotly disputed corner led to another barrage of pressure that ended with Williams putting a free header just wide.

The onslaught continued with Turnbull parrying away a Tyson shot into the path of Forrester who blazed over before Coppinger put yet another effort wide.

Leeds now had two minutes to last until 90 minutes and after the announcement of three minutes of injury time Leeds had to withstand a mad scramble from a dangerous free-kick which led to United breaking and forcing a corner of their own.

But that Whites set piece was comfortably dealt with and with the scores ending 1-1 after normal time the game headed for extra-time, hardly ideal preparation for Sunday’s Championship trip to Reading.

Yet it was Leeds who began the brighter in injury time with Byram steaming forward and forcing a good one-handed save from Stuckmann.

Richie Wellens hit back by blazing over for Doncaster before Leeds broke to force a corner which fell to Cooper whose effort sailed over the bar and to the Doncaster supporters behind the goal.

Ten-man United looked to have stemmed the Rovers tide and frustration amongst the home support and Dickov opted to throw on Curtis Main for Harry Middleton.

But only the post denied United in the 105th minute as Antenucci cut inside in similar fashion to his goal at Burnley only this time to produce a shot at the right hand side of goal which rolled on to the post.

That was the final meaningful piece of action of the first added period but Rovers began the second half on the front foot by forcing a couple of corners that were both cleared.

But as the rain started to lash down heavier the clock ticked ever closer towards penalties with a Leeds corner forced by Byram dealt with and Rovers blasting their best effort over the bar.

In truth, the game had looked like being settled on penalties for some time and that was to the case in the lashing rain at 10.20pm.

Both sides scored their first two penalties with Antenucci and Murphy on target for United as Tyson and Williams converted for Rovers.

But the wild efforts of first Byram and then Wood proved decisive as Forrester and Wellens netted for Donny to end a thrilling night in awful fashion for Leeds.

Leeds: Turnbull, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper (c), Taylor, Wootton, Cook, Mowatt (Byram 75), Doukara (Murphy 67), Dallas (Wood 67), Antenucci. Sub not used: Silvestri, Bamba, Phillips, Erwin.

Doncaster: Stuckmann, McCullough, Butler, Jones (c), Taylor-Sinclair, Evina (Tyson 73), Wellens, Middleton (Main 101), Forrester, Coppinger, Williams. Subs not used: MacKenzie, P McKay, Whitehouse.

Attendance: 8,361 (3,394 away).

Referee: Keith Hill.

Paul Heckingbottom.

Leeds United boss Paul Heckingbottom warns players not to take it easy as season draws to close