|Leeds United 3 v 0 Rotherham United
Saturday, 10th February 2024 Kick-off 15:00
Farke says never mind the controversy, we would have won anyway
Sunday, 11th Feb 2024 17:27 by Tim Whelan
There has been a lot of talk about the manner of Patrick Bamford’s opening goal, but Daniel Farke has claimed that Leeds were so dominant that we would have beaten Rotherham United even if it had been disallowed.
The manager told the Yorkshire Post "If I'm honest I haven't watched it back, someone mentioned it's a possible handball or the ball was deflected by Patrick's arm. You have to say if it was a handball then probably it should have been not allowed but if I'm really honest normally you say over the course of a season everything is a bit equal.”
"I also think normally it's important during a game if it's a goal or not a goal but today it was not important because we created so many chances. I think even if this situation would have been disallowed, I think it would still be the same outcome and to win. I think in the end it was not a decisive moment, we were too dominant.”
After the good run we’ve been on it’s no surprise that Farke named an unchanged starting eleven, with new man Conor Roberts having to be content with a place on the bench. With Rotherham being bottom of the table I had expected this to be one of those games when the opposition comes to park the bus, so it would be important for Leeds to score early to force them to come out and play.
But in fact the away side showed some attacking intent at the start of the game, and managed to force the first corner of the contest. And I was slightly worried to see their rather physical right back Kioso up against Firpo, as their man seemed to be getting the better of their exchanges. It’s a shame that so few Rotherham fans were at Elland Road to see their side’s bright start to the game.
I heard that most of them were boycotting the match in protest at the high ticket prices (no reciprocal arrangement had been reached for this one) but their league position might have had something to do with it. They only managed to fill one block of the upper tier, but beneath was a lower section full of Leeds fans who were quite happy to pay the prices they would have paid for the same seats.
It didn’t take long for Leeds to start to dominate possession, and the biggest talking point of the game arrived after only ten minutes. Kamara slipped the ball to Firpo on the left hand side of the area. His cross to the near post was deflected up but too low for Bamford to head it, and when our number nine moved to chest the ball into the net from close range he met the ball on or around the top of his arm.
It might well have been on the ‘sleeve’ part of the arm where you can now legally play the ball, but that didn’t stop at least half the Rotherham team surrounding the referee to protest. If these new-fangled blue cards had come into being it would have been interesting, if the whole lot of them had ended up in the sin bin for dissent.
Leeds created numerous other chances in the rest of the first half. Another fell to Bamford, but he had to collect a pass from slightly behind him, so couldn’t get any power into his shot. Summerville curled a shot wide, and then Summerville and Gnonto worked to give Gray a shooting opportunity, but he sent it more or less straight at Johansson. For all his excellent work, we still await his first Leeds goal.
Johansson had a lot more to do when Gruev won the ball on the halfway line and sent Gnonto racing clear into the area, as the shot was heading for the far corner before the visiting keeper did well to get down to push the ball round the far post at full stretch. With only a one goal lead at the break we had the usual worry that the opposition could score from their only chance to snatch an undeserved point.
Early in the second period we seemed certain to extend the lead, but somehow the ball stayed out after a sequence of near misses. Summerville’s trickery took him into the area to set up Bamford, who took the ball past a defender but his shot was deflected onto the bar. His shot from the rebound was blocked, and when it came back to Gnonto it was too high for the Italian to control, and he put it over the bar. But thankfully the second goal did arrive on 52 minutes.
Summerville slipped the ball to Rutter as he broke into the Rotherham half, and Rutter did well to evade a challenge, before returning the pass as Summerville raced into the area between two defenders. For a second I thought he’d just gone down as one of the defenders barged into him, but then I noticed the ball on it’s way into the corner of the net. He’d managed to get a touch on it as he was falling over.
And on the hour we sealed the contest good and proper with the third goal. Gnonto played the ball through to Summerville, and as three defenders converged on him one of them clipped his heel. Bamford again dummied that he was going to take the penalty, but this time we didn’t worry as we knew he was going to hand it over.
With Piroe off the field it had to be Summerville, and he stepped up and hit a cheeky ‘Panenka’ as the goalkeeper dived. From the angle I had to watch from on the far left of the Kop I couldn’t judge the flight of the ball and for a horrible moment I thought it might be heading over the bar. So it was a great relief to see it come down and drop into the back of the net.
With the game already won the manager started making subs to give some of his key players a break with the busy fixture list we are facing in the next few weeks. And the performance started to lose a bit of momentum, though Gnonto should have scored a fourth goal when he was sent through, only to drag his shot beyond the far post.
Up to that point Rotherham’s best chance had been a dodgy backpass from Kamara that had us worried for a second as it was a bit too firmly struck. But in the closing stages they got forward and forced Meslier into a couple of saves. The best of them resulting from a header from a free kick forced, as he had to get down to push the ball round the post.
Sadly some of their few fans had gone by then, so missed their spirited end to the game. In the closing stages we even had an appearance from the lesser spotted Charlie Cresswell, to the delight of the cult following he clearly has among some of the Elland Road crowd. Myself included.
And so we finished the game with just the 3-0 win, and I’ll leave the summary to Daniel Farke. "I didn't like the first 10 minutes when we conceded a corner after 10 seconds and were not on it and the last 10 minutes when we conceded too many set pieces, but in the middle 70 minutes we were excellent.
We should have scored more, but otherwise it was a good performance. It should have been a tennis result, but Rotherham are a side who fight to the end. They don't give up, we are happy with 3-0."
The result was enough to keep us in third place. Which would have been second if Huddersfield had held onto their lead at Southampton, worrying as it is to see the dog botherers getting back into form when we play them quite soon. At least Ipswich failed to win again, and they would need to win their game in hand by 14 goals to go above us.
With six consecutive wins the manager has clearly found the formation to make the best use of the talent at his disposal, and with Southampton still having to play all the top sides away from home we can think of plenty of reasons to be cheerful.
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