Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s 2-1 victory at Rotherham United.
This was a game that Leeds really had to win if we were to continue to believe we have a chance of promotion this season.
And truth be told, for 80 minutes it was comfortable. An early Chris Wood goal and injuries to key Rotherham players, Greg Halford and Lee Camp got Leeds into a commanding position and a flailing elbow from Peter Odemwingie that got him sent off seemed to end all hope for the Millers. A classic Souley Doukara finish just before half-time should have been the end of them.
In the second half though, despite continuing to dominate the possession, Leeds made precious few chances worth the name and it almost seemed as if it was too easy for us. Some of our passing was dire – that failing we saw so often last season when our final ball was too often wasted.
Eunan O’Kane was particularly guilty as time and time again he gave possession away with a stray pass. It all meant that despite Leeds having 75 per cent of the ball, the Millers actually created as many chances as we did and both sides only got three on target each.
The nervousness was becoming obvious as the last ten minutes approached and we sat far too deep.
The inevitable happened and Rotherham grabbed a lifeline as we dillied and dallied over clearing a corner; three times we tried and three times it came back and finally Richard Wood nodded it past Green.
With the home crowd now stirred and believing they could grab an unlikely equaliser it was then a familiar backs against the wall display by Leeds with several goal-mouth scrambles. Somehow we escaped but at the end it felt almost like a defeat and not a victory that put us back in the top six. We are sorely missing Pablo Hernandez to give us that vision and creativity in the middle to turn possession into clear cut chances and without him I doubt we have enough class to get too many points from Villa, Brighton and Reading – our next three league opponents.
Having said that, for those first 80 minutes there wasn’t too much to complain about and the Sacko, Roofe, Doukara threesome did the job, albeit against a poor Rotherham side rendered even poorer by those early injuries and Odemwingie’s indiscretion.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
The Leeds squad of 2016/17 did something no other squad could do since 1982 – claim a win at Rotherham , but boy did they make hard work of it!
Garry Monk shuffled his pack a little with Liam Cooper replacing Pontus Jansson and including Hadi Sacko. Ronaldo Vieira surprisingly dropped to the bench.
Leeds dominated the first half and the only surprise was that only two goals were scored by the visitors, Chris Wood after 13 minutes and Souleymane Doukara grabbing the second in first-half injury time. By this time Rotherham were down to 10 men – Peter Odemwingie was sent off for elbowing Cooper in the face while Lee Camp was substituted after picking up an injury. With Charlie Taylor, Sacko and Kemar Roofe having so much time and space it was disappointing that Leeds only had a couple of goals to show for their efforts.
The second half was very disappointing, Leeds could and should have increased their goal difference tally but credit to Rotherham who never gave up and deservedly got a goal back.
It could have been worse for Leeds as only a goalline scramble kept Rotherham from grabbing a most unlikely draw.
United will have to play better than they did in the second half on Saturday to claim a unlikely victory at Anfield tomorrow.
Man of the match: Eunan O’Kane.
The sign of a good team is that they can pick up results when they don’t play well and Leeds United certainly proved that point on Saturday against Rotherham.
Thankfully for Garry Monk’s side, Rotherham were abysmal in the first half allowing Leeds to get two goals in front without ever getting out of second gear.
Leeds were unable to step up through the gears against 10 men in the second half and it was no surprise to the long suffering fans that the closing stages saw us desperately hanging on after a late Rotherham goal. The fact that we did is at least some testament to the backbone the side have installed this season.
Maybe minds were on the trip to Anfield tomorrow night, but Leeds certainly can’t afford to be as slack against Aston Villa next weekend, another acid test of United’s play-off potential.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
United returned to the Championship play-off places with a first ever win at Rotherham United’s new home, however boy did they put us all through it! We went 2-0 up courtesy of strikes from Chris Wood and Souley Doukara against the bottom team in the division who were reduced to ten men. Instead of “going for the jugular” they “got their cigars out” in a tribute to recently departed Fidel Castro and almost snatched a draw from the jaws of victory. Thankfully no harm done and hopefully we now have a great basis for a serious tilt at promotion.
Man of the match: Chris Wood.
In many ways this was similar to the Newcastle game last week. An away side taking the points without ever really breaking sweat. If there was a gulf in quality between Leeds and Newcastle then the one on display for vast periods of Saturday’s game was even bigger.
Rotherham are the poorest side we’ve faced this season but we still managed to make hard work of the win and rewarded Sky Sports subscribers with a drab Saturday evening’s viewing.
Leeds had a number of bright spells driven by good performances from Taylor, Wood and Doukara but too often reverted to a complacent style of play which was very nearly our undoing. Three points is the most important thing however and now on to Liverpool.
Man of the match: Kyle Bartley.
MIKE GILL After a tentative start, Chirs Wood put Leeds ahead after Charlie Taylor was allowed to waltz through the Rotherham defence leaving Wood with the easiest of side footers. Doukara scored an equally soft second but not before Rotherham keeper Lee Camp hobbled off and Odemwingie slunk off with a straight red card after elbowing Liam Cooper.
The second half was not as exciting, unless you support Rotherham. A goal from Wood, but sadly it was Richard Wood of Rotherham who made the last few minutes very uncomfortable for Monk’s men. However fifth place and three points are three points.
Man of the match Kyle Bartley.