|Warnock's 10 men sink to late Wood goal at the Den|
Sun 18th Nov 2012 16:52
Neil Warnock's threadbare side put up a bit of a fight at the New Den particularly when they were reduced to 10 men after a controversial red-card for Luke Varney, in the end though Millwall made both home and extra man advantage count.
Warnock rang in the changes, most of them enforced due to suspensions which are rapidly catching up the injury list! Most notably Ryan Hall was handed his first start and I was pleased to see Luciano Becchio recalled to the starting line up as well as Adam Drury coming in, which saw Aidy White deservedly dropped to the bench where Ross McCormack making a most welcome return.
Facing the "famous" Millwall roar, Leeds started the brighter. Diouf was felled by Beevers on the edge of the box, Tonge wasted the free kick. Hall was thundering down the flanks, but the feeling was that we lacked in the final third to test the Lions Eire keeper David Forde.
Paddy Kenny was eventually called into the fray as Millwall played some neat football, stringing together some decent passing movements. Lees cleared off the line and former Whites frontman Andy Keogh should have scored on 41 but dragged his shot wide. Keogh always seems up for it when he faces the club that let him go twice but maybe this was a reminder of why we didn't pursue him harder. Although it had to be said his pairing alongside on-loan West Brom striker Chris Wood looked more threatening than Diouf and Becchio.
You cannot really point the dismissal of Luke Varney on 47 minutes as a significant turning point as I thought Leeds battled brilliantly thereafter and did not look a man light. Again it was the delivery of a quality final ball and Becchio's inability to put himself about that let us down.
As for Varney, there will be a debate as to whether he deserved to walk but technically he sealed his own fate by backing into one time Leeds loanee Adam Smith and raising his elbow whilst doing so in full view of referee Mark Halsey.
Leeds will point out that Halsey's vision was not up to scratch when he failed to spot Tom Lees being manhandled in the box. The famous New Den atmosphere was going a little flat as the home side seemed content to pepper Paddy Kenny's goal with long range efforts which were largely wildly wide.
Given the subdued tempo of the game, Warnock even threw on McCormack on 66 in the hope he could snatch a winner like he did last season, given a few decent touches it was a tall-order for the Scotland striker given his injury woes of late and Leeds did not look any more of an attacking threat despite his presence.
The home side did have the ball in the net on 82 but Kenny was adjudged to have been fouled, watching the replay I thought Kenny actually dropped the ball onto Byram's back but our goal remained intact and were we going to snatch a point in all honesty we would have settled for before kick off given our current plight and Millwall's recent run of form.
However the winner came on 85, another former Leeds loanee Shane Lowry swung in a looping cross from the left which dropped perfectly for the advancing Chris Wood to power a header past Kenny sparking wild celebrations and the usual "Turkish" songs from the home fans.
Neil Warnock revealed at the weekend he hopes to keep Michael Tonge after his loan ends in January. Tonge's agent would do well to omit the free kick the Stoke man wasted in injury time after Diouf was hauled down on the edge of the box.
No doubt four straight league defeats will have the gloom mongers reaching for the paracetamols and Leonard Cohen box sets, but I saw a few positives today, our battling spirit, we looked organised despite the absence of the immense Rodolph Austin and Tom Lees stepped into the void left by Jason Pearce. It was a pity that we could not hold on for a point, but if we replicate this kind of spirit against Palace on Saturday and the return of McCormack it might not be the foregone conclusion we all fear!