Sky Sports Leeds once again dictated another ridiculous kick off time for the mighty whites but that wasn't going to stop another sell out away following making the short trip down the M1 to the New York Stadium and an intriguing Yorkshire derby against Rotherham. After last week's reverse against Newcastle and more challenging games coming up against Villa and Brighton this game had suddenly become one Leeds needed to win to maintain their momentum that has seen them climb to 7th in the table. What should be a relatively easy game for Leeds based on current form was tempered by the fact that Rotherham have become a bit of a bogey team for Leeds in recent years.
Garry Monk’s team selection saw Sacko come in for Vieira and Cooper replace the suspended Jansson. Roofe was moved to the No 10 role to try and plug the gap that the injured Hernandez has left. The chilly South Yorkshire evening greeted the players as the game got underway. Leeds were on the front foot from the start but their initial momentum was stalled by a bad injury to Greg Halford in his own box. After a long delay Leeds soon picked up where they left off and camped in the Rotherham half as they looked for an early lead against the Championship’s basement club. Doukara was pulled down as the Millers struggled to contain the rejuvenated Leeds forward. Leeds took the kick quickly and released Taylor on the left. The Leeds full back thundered into the box, pulled the ball back for Chris Wood to finish with ease. 1.0 Leeds. Get in!
Leeds continued to dominate possesion in a way that dismissed any suggestion they would be hungover after last week’s defeat to Newcastle. Cooper saw his header just miss to the left as Leeds piled on the pressure. Odemwingie did have the ball in the net after a rare Rotherham attack but the linesman’s flag acknowledged a perfectly synchronised Leeds back four and chalked the goal off for offside. Leeds were opening up Rotherham almost at will. Ayling slotted a ball behind the Millers full back for Sacko but Camp in the Rotherham goal just beat the Leeds winger to the ball. He injured himself in the process and yet another long delay in the game. On the half hour Odemwingie received a straight red for a ridiculous elbow that floored Liam Cooper. This was turning into a stroll in the park for Leeds as a place in the top six beckoned. To add to Rotherham’s woes their goalie, Camp, limped off injured to be replaced by Lewis.
Leeds continued to dominate with some crisp interpassing stretching Rotherham from one side of the pitch to the other. If the finishing had matched the build up play Leeds would be out of sight already. Phillips hit a shot high into the stands quickly followed by Doukara slamming his shot wide and into the advertisement hoardings. Just when I was thinking we would get to half time with just the one goal lead Doukara finished cleverly after good play by Roofe. 2.0 Leeds and half time against 10 men Rotherham. Surely Leeds were on for a hat full against a very ordinary Rotherham side down to 10 men in the 2nd half?
Leeds continued their dominance of the game in the 2nd period. Sacko tried an audacious volley from the first attack as he fizzed his shot just over the bar from 25 yards. Another goal now and the Millers will be done I mused. Phillips was next to see sight of goal but pulled his shot wide. It was all too easy for Leeds and as the game passed the hour mark Bartley powered a header towards goal forcing a good save from Price. Dallas replaced Doukara and then Antonsson swapped with Roofe. The young ex Oxford man had played well in the Hernandez role. Leeds were cruising to victory without too much trouble. Problem was collectively they all thought the game was won and in true Leeds style were about to put their fans through an excruciating last ten minutes in a game that should have been put to bed a long time ago.
Rotherham found some energy for a final fling and unnerved the Leeds back four with some robust attacking. Suddenly their was an element of panic in the defending. A last ditch block denied Vaulks a goal as the ball was scrambled away for a corner. Leeds failed to clear the corner and Wood somehow found space to head the ball beyond Green. 2.1 and game on. 5 minutes left. Leeds couldn’t throw two points away after so much dominance could they? Well they had a bloody good go! Rotherham were suddenly alive as they sensed the Leeds nerves. Vaulks skipped through and sent a shot goalwards only to see Green finger tip the ball round the post. The ball seemed to be stuck in the Leeds half. Another scramble in the Leeds box saw Ball hoof the ball over the Leeds bar when it looked aesier to score. FFS Leeds get a bastard grip. 4 minutes added time to survive! Berardi replaced Sacko as Garry Monk tried to shore up the defence. This was torture……….not for the first time in my long career watching Leeds mind you! Somehow Leeds survived and grabbed three points that lifts them to the dizzy heights of 5th in the table. Mint! Final score 2.1 Leeds.
Leeds had 75% possesion and should have buried Rotherham way before their last hurrah nearly made Monk’s men pay for taking their foot of the gas too early. Still it was a win at Rotherham something we last managed in a different century. Bartley was commanding at the back and both full backs again performed well. Cooper deputised for Jansson admirably. The fans were left frustrated though after going in at half time with momentum against ten men the least that was expected was another goal to kill the game and then cruise to victory. After saying that we’d have lost this game last year. 5th in the table as well with a trip to Anfield to saviour. All of a sudden life is sweet on Planet Leeds.
Can Leeds spring a surprise at high flying Liverpool on Tuesday then follow it up with a win at home to Villa? Now that would be asking too much wouldn’t it? Bring it on!