Leeds United Nostalgia: ‘Worst moment’ in football for McDermott at Spotland

Brian McDermott has a word with his players at the end of the Rochdale match.
Brian McDermott has a word with his players at the end of the Rochdale match.
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Two years ago does not seem like a long time in the lifespan of a football club, not least one that has been in operation for nearly 97 years.

However, at Leeds United two years means six different managers and two different sets of owners.

This point two years ago also represented the end of the last false dawn Leeds fans have been through.

Admittedly, the tide was already turning for Brian McDermott. He had guided the team to fifth in the Championship but struggled to keep them involved in the promotion conversation over the festive period.

By the time Leeds reached Spotland for their FA Cup third round tie against Rochdale, the Whites had failed to win any of their previous four games, slipping to eighth in the Championship in the process.

When April and the end of the campaign came, the temporary promotion challenge would seem like little more than a distant memory.

However, the situation did not seem drastic – not least until Spotland.

Historically the tie was a mismatch. Leeds have won the FA Cup and were runners-up on three occasions in the 1960s and 1970s.

By way of contrast, The Dale had never been past the fifth round and had not progressed to the fourth for 11 years. Rochdale sat two divisions below the Whites, in League Two, but genuinely dominated the tie.

Leeds never looked like they would win in what was comfortably the worst performance of McDermott’s reign to that point.

Scott Hogan was the clear threat in the opening exchanges. He was twice denied early on.

The first saw him stopped by a last-ditch sliding tackle. Hogan then fired directly at Paddy Kenny.

With Leeds struggling to craft opportunities of their own, it was no surprise to see Hogan put Rochdale into the lead. His header was virtually the final touch of the first half.Leeds tried to push forward to score an equaliser and save their blushes.

Sadly for the Elland Road side, the closest they would come was a header from Matt Smith in the first period, which was cleared off the line.

Ross McCormack then had an opportunity of his own, but fired over the crossbar.

Peter Vincenti, who had assisted Hogan’s opener, was at the heart of the action.

Kenny impressed, tipping over a strike from the Jersey international.

However, the Leeds goalkeeper could do nothing about Ian Henderson’s sensational volley, which wrapped up the tie for the fourth-tier side

After the game, McDermott revealed that it was the lowest point of his career.

He said: “I stood on the pitch after a defeat in the play-off final and it didn’t feel like that at the final whistle today – today felt worse.

“I said to the players they have to remember that feeling.”

“You have to credit Rochdale. They played good football. We knew what it would be about today and they deserved it.

“We showed them complete respect because we knew we had to – I knew how difficult it would be.

“I would probably say that is my worst moment in football.”

Sadly for McDermott, Sheffield Wednesday was only seven days away.

Match stats

Rochdale 2

(Hogan 45, Henderson 84)

Leeds United 0

FA Cup third round
January 4, 2014

Rochdale: Lillis, Bennett, Done, Cavanagh, Lancashire, O’Connell, Lund, Henderson, Hogan, Vincenti, Bunney (Cummins, 72). Unused subs: Rafferty, Eastham, Donnelly, Thomson, Allen, Dicker.

Leeds United: Kenny, Peltier (Poleon, 85), Pugh, Pearce, Zaliukas, Wootton (Hunt, 76), Austin, Murphy, Smith, Byram, McCormack. Unused subs: Lees, Brown, Tonge, Ariyibi, Cairns.

Attendance: 8,255.

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