Uwe Rosler leapt to the defence of Lewis Cook after the midfielder’s red card helped condemn Leeds United to an exhausting League Cup defeat at Doncaster Rovers.
Cook scored his maiden Leeds goal at the Keepmoat Stadium but was shown a red card towards the end of the first half as United lost on penalties and went out in the League Cup’s first round for the first time in their history.
Doncaster fought back from Cook’s 14th-minute strike to equalise through Andy Williams’ penalty on the half-hour but the tie turned more dramatically six minutes later when Cook was dismissed following a two-footed tackle on Rovers’ Aaron Taylor-Sinclair.
The 18-year-old is facing a three-match ban, ruling him out of forthcoming Championship games against Reading, Bristol City and Sheffield Wednesday, and although Doncaster failed to take immediate advantage as extra-time finished with the score level at 1-1, they reached the second round with a 4-2 victory on penalties.
Rosler said: “I think we should not be too harsh on Lewis. He scored his first goal in senior football and he was very excited. In that split second he was probably a bit too excited. So I’m not too harsh on him.
“He’ll feel low at the moment and we have to pick him up. The players have to pick him up. Lewis needs to keep himself fit and come back strong.”
Rosler described the red card as an “unnecessary” foul and admitted Leeds had shot themselves in the foot when Scott Wootton - used as a holding midfielder last night - conceded a penalty with a clear trip on Doncaster’s Cedric Evina.
United were in control of the match at the time but Rovers went on to dominate the rest of normal time. Mirco Antenucci, however, came close to snatching a win for Leeds when he hit the post in the first period of extra-time.
Rosler said: “The red card made it much more difficult. It was unnecessary to concede the red card and to concede a penalty but the players have given me everything.
“I didn’t wish to have this in a period of four games in 10 days but we move on. The supporters were fantastic and they’ll forgive mistakes on the pitch because we have a young group of players.
“We lost our heads once or twice and that can happen. As long as we respond in the way that we did, we will turn things in better situations in the future.”