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Saturday, 9 January 2016

Leeds Utd 2:0 Rotherham Utd. FA Cup Third Round 9th Jan 2016.

One thing guaranteed about FA Cup 3rd round weekend is that the various media streams will gorge themselves on a plentiful supply of old football cliches as they try to recapture the rather tarnished magic of the cup. There will be the usual smattering of giantkillers amongst the results that will raise an eyebrow and give opposing supporters of the unfortunate cup losers plenty of "banter"ammunition over the coming weeks. But it's all become a bit devalued as teams right down the football pyramid field weakened teams in order to keep their normal starting eleven "fresh" for the mid week league programme, classic case was last night's Liverpool team who played Exeter that seemed to have been selected by who could be arsed to get on the team bus after Thursday's training rather than any football logic.

Still despite all the negatives surrounding the competition it is the FA Cup and it does offer the tantalising chance of a cup run that potentially could include a match up with one of our once rivals but now mega rich super clubs. But first we had the less than glamorous home tie against the mighty Rotherham Utd to contend with at a half empty Elland Road. Oh the magic of the cup. A crowd of 16,000 had braved the awful weather to witness the Yorkshire cup derby. Steve Evans team news saw a start for new signing Carayol with a home debut for Coyle at right back and Antenucci plus Bellusci making the starting line up. Byram surprisingly started despite all the speculation over his future but Cook had to make do with a place on the bench. With our normal seats in the NW corner not available I was in the West Stand with the Happy Chocker and the Quiet One in the kop. The sky's opened as the game got under way.

New boy Carayol brightened up the opening exchanges with two exciting runs and crosses from the bye line. Mmmm I could grow to like this latest loanee to arrive at the Theatre of Hope. Leeds were attacking the empty and desolate South Stand in a 4-4-2 formation with Doukara and Antenucci leading the line but it was Byram who got on the end of the few chances created in the scrappy opening period. This added to the excitement as I had Byram as a first goal scorer with SkyBet. Rotherham had deployed the same tactics that thwarted Leeds in the league game as they played a very high line supported by a strong pressing game and once again it seemed to be stifling any flowing football from Leeds. Doukara was struggling with the concept of staying onside if the defence is pushing out much to the frustration of a number of fans around me.

Rotherham had had a decent amount of possession but were struggling to test the Leeds backline. Pontefract's finest, Paul Green, had tested Silvestri with a long shot and Ward had dragged a shot wide but other than that this was by no means the best advert for the magic of the FA Cup. Then Leeds new boy, Carayol, lit up a very ordinary first 45 minutes. With many fans heading for the sanctuary of the half time bar or toilet Leeds at last applied some real pressure on the visitors goal. After two corners in quickfire succession Leeds attacked the left flank..............Charlie Taylor feinted to cross but pulled the ball back to Carayol on the corner edge of the box............The Ghanaian took aim and hit an absolute screamer past the helpless Camp in the Rotherham goal. Wow. What a way to announce his arrival at Leeds! 1.0 Leeds. Leeds strode off at Half time with a standing ovation ringing in their ears although I suspect if it wasn't for Carayol's screamer there would have been plenty of jeers after the anaemic first half showing from the Whites.

The urinal philosophers in the West Stand are of a slightly older and more cynical breed. "I'm glad I haven't paid full price for this rubbish" one fan announced whilst another thought "Doukara's no more a striker than I am a male model" as he shuffled out with his walking stick and snow white hair. Still we were 1.0 up.

The 2nd half got under way in what was now torrential rain. Inevitably Rotherham pushed forward looking for the equaliser but were met with strong defence from Cooper, Bellusci, Taylor and the impressive Coyle. Bridcutt was hurtling about in midfield but Leeds still struggled to maintain any real pressure on their championship visitors. Cooper brought a good save from Camp with a fine header and Byram brought a save after good build up play but the longer the game went on at 1.0 the more I feared Neil Redfearn's men were going to upset the home side again. As the clocked ticked past 70 minutes the illusive Carayol jinked inside and got a shot away but it went just wide. That was his last kick as he left the field to a thunderous ovation to be replaced by Dallas. We just needed that all important 2nd goal to kill the South Yorkshire team off.

Bamba replaced the injured Bellusci with 12 minutes left and his first touch was a header from a Murphy cross that went high and wide. Leeds were now catching the Millers on the break and with just 5 minutes left Dallas finished off a lovely move involving Byram and Antenucci by thundering a shot against the bar from the edge of the box.Cook replaced the tiring Murphy as the game entered the final minutes. Nerves were starting to fray amongst the die hard Leeds fans as Rotherham desperately looked for a goal. We needn't have worried though. The Chuckle Brothers were about to gift Leeds a 2nd goal. A hopeful ball down field from Cooper was chased down by Doukara as the Rotherham keeper and his centre half played a game of "to me, to you" straight out of the Chuckle brothers playlist allowing Doukara to pinch the ball from them and roll the ball into the empty net. 2.0 Leeds and game over. The referee blew his final whistle minutes later to signal an 8th game unbeaten for Steve Evans men and a passage into the next round of the cup. Mint.

As we streamed away from a wet Elland Road we reflected on an indifferent performance from Leeds with serious questions asked of the strike force but pleasing positives with Coyle and Carayol's contributions. Bridcutt was my man of the match pushed close by Cooper. Byram had another industrious game. Doukara struggles up front for me but pleased he got the 2nd goal. So the magic of the cup continues for Leeds this season and the delicious anticipation of Monday night's cup draw. Can't wait.

We have 2 very difficult away games to contend with this week at Portman Road and Hillsborough. Can we keep the unbeaten run going? Will we sign a striker this week? Is Wood fit for Tuesday? All intriguing questions to consider this week on Planet Leeds.

Can't wait.


PS. I'm out of the country this week so I'll miss the trip to Ipswich. Back for the Wendies game though.


Unknown said...

Excellent reading, we are dismal at the moment but grinding out results, was disappointed with murco, think he needs to go and bring somebody in to support Wood.

Andrew Butterwick said...

Thanks for the comments. As you say we're grinding out results what would happen if we started putting it all together. I do think the sticking point is the centre forward position though.

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