GREG Halford’s 90th-minute penalty gave Rotherham United a dramatic 2-1 victory over Leeds United in Saturday’s helter-skelter Championship derby which finished ten-a-side and with Giuseppe Bellusci in goal.
Lee Frecklington gave Rotherham a 27th-minute lead when stabbing home from Joe Mattock’s left flank cross after Charlie Taylor was taken out of play in the build-up when Leon Best blasted a ball where it hurts.
The Millers were then reduced to ten men just after the hour when Matt Derbyshire was shown a straight-red card for a high challenge on Gaetano Berardi.
Leeds looked to have salvaged a share of the spoils when substitute Luke Murphy’s long range effort took a massive deflection to wrong foot the excellent Lee Camp with 11 minutes left.
But in one final twist, Whites ‘keeper Marco Silvestri was shown a straight red card for conceding a 90th-minute penalty which Halford calmly converted past new stand-in ‘keeper Bellusci with Leeds having used all three subs.
As part of a quiet opening, Mirco Antenucci curled a seventh-minute effort over the bar for Leeds with Alex Mowatt then firing a swerving effort over from range.
And it was United who created the game’s best chance yet after 20 minutes when Wood squared the ball to Antenucci whose low shot was desperately kept out by Lee Camp’s legs.
Rotherham hit back with a decent spell of pressure of their own but without creating a clear-cut chance until Frecklington popped up to give the hosts a 27th-minute lead.
Leon Best first pole-axed Charlie Taylor by blasting a ball at his nether regions and as Taylor attempted to recover the ball was switched to the left flank.
Joe Mattock then whipped in a fine delivery and with Taylor still suffering, Frecklington wriggled free near the far post to stab the ball past Silvestri.
Leeds offered a limited initial response with two Antenucci efforts coming to nothing and Bellusci then ballooning a 25-yard free-kick hopelessly over the crossbar.
Diagouraga then went close to converting a Sol Bamba cross but at the other end Grant Wrad wriggled free in the area before blasting over.And Antenucci then went mightily close to levelling six minutes before the interval when working some space before firing a powerful effort just wide of Camp’s left hand post. But Rotherham hit back with Kirk Broadfoot heading over before Leon Best was booked for cannoning into Silvestri in the penalty box.
It proved the last action of note with Leeds unable to create a chance as one minute of injury time passed without incident.
Neither team made any changes during the half-time interval, after which Rotherham began the brighter
with Richie Smallwood punt a fine chance just wide from a scramble from a corner.
At the other end, Leeds were probing but with no end product and Evans made an unpopular double substitution on 58 minutes in hauling Cook and Mowatt off for Dallas and Carayol. The away end greeted that double change with boos with Cook in partcular having a good game.
But the game then exploded just three minutes later when Matt Derbyshire was shown a straight red card for a high challenge on Gaetano Berardi that left the bull back with blood pouring from his head and all over his shirt.
Play was stopped for a good five minutes while a clearly incensed Berardi received treatment before eventually resuming to the field with a head bandage.
And moments later Bellusci dived into a late challenge on recently introduced sub Danny Ward which recieved a yellow card when the Italian must have been fearing a red.
Bellusci escaped with a caution and Leeds upped the pace against the ten men of Rotherham with Camp producing a fantastic stretched save to tip a curling Antenucci effort around the post.
Berardi was then taken off for Luke Murphy for Evans’ final change and Camp again saved Rotherham with another fantastic save from another close range Antenucci effort, after which a powerul Dallas effort was blocked.
But there was nothing Camp could do prevent United’s 79th-minute leveller which arrived when a long range effort from Murphy took a massive deflection before creeping into the net.
The Millers were starting to look jaded and Camp was again required to produce a fine save to tip a curling Bridcuttt effort over the bar.
All the momentum was with Leeds but the game was to have one final dramatic twist resulting from a last-minute Rotherham counter.
A long looping cross caught out Bellusci with the ball falling to Frecklington who then danced around Silvestri who then hauled down the forward in the area.
A stone wall penalty which also saw Silvestri was shown a straight red-card as Bellusci donned the goalkeeping gloves.
And Bellusci didn’t even move as Halford calmly slotted home the penalty to send the home fans into raptures.
Leeds were then presented with six minutes of injury time and had their chances with Chris Wood and Sol Bamba shooting just wide.
But there was to be no second equaliser as Steve Evans’ old side came back to haunt him in the most dramatic of circumstances.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Berardi (Murphy 74), Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Diagouraga, Bridcutt, Mowatt (Dallas 58), Cook (Carayol 58), Antenucci, Wood. Subs not used: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Cooper, Adeyemi.
Rotherham United: Kelly, Broadfoot, Doyley, Mattock; Halford; G Ward, Smallwood (Newell 79), Frecklington, Derbyshire; Best (D Ward 64). Subs: Kenny, Richardson, Wood, Thomas, Clarke-Harris.
Referee: Kevin Friend.
Attendance: 11,418 (2,311 Leeds).