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Rotherham take chances to put Leeds out
Rotherham take chances to put Leeds out
Thursday, 9th Oct 2008 17:05

Rotherham United 4  Leeds United 2

As promised, Gary Mc.Allister rang the changes for this Johnson’s Paint Trophy tie, with several of our key first choice players sitting on the bench, although all the players who featured have played for us at some point in the league this season.

Lucas was back in goal, Hughes took over from Frazer as right-back and captain, Ben Parker started at left-back, Lubo came into central defence, and Showumni played as a loan striker, with Robinson and Snodgrass on the wings.

We started off as the better side, and both the wingers went close in the first ten minutes. Snodgrass rattled the bar with an excellent free kick, then Robinson beat a couple of defenders as he cut in from the left wing, but Warrington made a decent save to keep out his well-struck shot.

But Rotherham scored against the run of play after 18 minutes, as Leeds set the pattern for the night with some pretty ropey defending.Nicholas sent a long throw-in right into the box and Sharps got in front of Lubo, to send a back-header looping over Lucas and into the net. But after half an hour Leeds were level after a goalmouth scramble, when Howson eventually scored after Robinson and Snodgrass both had shots cleared off the line.

Shortly afterwards Kilkenny hit the post from a free kick, and at that stage it looked as though Leeds were going to go on and win the game quite comfortably.But Reuben Reid had other ideas, and a superb run into the box took him past three defenders, until Hughes came crashing in with a desperate lunge and brought him down for a clear penalty. And although Lucas managed to keep the spot kick out, the ball fell kindly for Hudson to run through and smash it into the net.

And there was more comical defending after the break, as we went further behind in the 48th. minute. Parker was AWOL (as he always seems to be, in any position but the right one) leaving acres of space for Rotherham down their right, and they duly took advantage when the winger sent over a decent cross for Broughton to head past Lucas.

And five minutes later they scored their fourth with another header, this time from a corner. You might have expected that with the 6 foot 4 figure of Lubo in the defence we would have won most of the balls in the air, but sadly that was not to be.

Showumni wasn't exactly having a vintage night at the other end, but at least he did manage to pull one back in the 56th. minute, with a run down the left an shot that Warrington probably should have been able to keep out.

That might have inspired a Macca to throw the big guns on, for an all-out effort to get back into the game, but the first substitution was to bring Sheehan on at left-back instead of Parker. The priority was to help Sheehan build up his fitness for Saturday, but that backfired when the Irishman pulled up with 15 minutes left, meaning we finished the game a man short as we had used the other two substitutions by then.  

Beckford and Becchio came on for the last 20 minutes at the expense of Showumni and Robinson, and we had almost all the possession in the later stages without forcing another breakthrough. Snodgrass came closest with a firm header that Warrington did well to keep out, though Sheehan also clipped the post from a free kick.

At the other end the linesman spared us further embarrassment when Mills had the ball in the net with yet another header, ruling that Lucas had been impeded as he tried to make a save.  As the game moved into injury time the keeper made a double save from Howson and Becchio, then carried on despite having injured his shoulder. But time had now run out for Leeds, and for the second time in four days we’d gone down to defeat against determined opposition.

I’m not that bothered that we’ve gone out of the JPT, but I am concerned about the poor performance of the defence. I had thought that our strength in depth would see us through this season, as we had better players in reserve than the other clubs in our division, which would give us a big advantage once injuries and suspensions began to take hold. But now I’m not so sure, as some of the second string players seem to be either lacking in confidence or pissed off that they haven’t been in the first team for the league matches. We need to get these last two games out of our system as soon as we can, so we could really do with a much improved performance against Brighton on Saturday.


Photo: Action Images

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