Improving Leeds held at Doncaster
Saturday, 18th Sep 2010 11:06 by Tim Whelan
Leeds put in a much improved performance at Doncaster Rovers last night, but despite dominating the possession for much of the game, we couldn’t quite manage to claim all three points. The closest we came was a disallowed goal from Davide Somma.
Simon Grayson kept his promise to ring the changes after the debacle at Barnsley, but he claimed that some players were left out because of minor injuries, or because one or two needed a rest for the third game in six days. Thankfully Bessone was out, with Johnson dropping to left back and Aidan White playing further forward on the left hand side. Naylor made way for Alex Bruce in the centre, Somma and Mc.Cormack started up front, and with Connoly unable to take his place at right back, Hughes came in to take his place.
Doncaster were the first to create a decent chance but our former transfer target Billy Sharp wasted the opportunity. The home side then forced a series of corners, as I started to worry whether we would see a repeat of Tuesday night’s dismal defending, but I needn’t have worried. Bruce had an excellent game at the back, looking much more comfortable than the ancient Naylor, and even Collins managed to look reasonably composed playing alongside him. Our biggest problem seemed to be whether Johnson would get himself sent off, as he carried on making silly fouls after an early booking for a hefty tackle.
After Donny’s opening salvo Leeds started to take control, with Mad Max putting in his usual busy performance down the right and Howson and Kilkenny working hard in the centre. In the 22nd minute Somma tried his luck from outside the area, and nearly embarrassed our former custodian Neil Sullivan. The Donny keeper seemed to have the shot covered, but could only palm the ball upwards and was lucky to see it come back off the bar. To be honest, I thought Sullivan looked a bit past it when we lost to Watford in that play-off final four years ago.
At the other end Doncaster hit the woodwork themselves when a curling shot from Shiels clipped the outside of the post before going behind. Then another decent chance fell to Somma as he was put through one-on-one against Sullivan, but he made it too easy for the keeper, and could only strike a fairly weak effort well within Sullivan’s grasp. At half-time the game seemed fairly even, and if anything Leeds had even more of the possession after the interval.
Soon after the break, Somma was again put through on goal, but dragged his shot well wide of the post. Then Sullivan had to keep out a well-struck shot from Gradel after Somma’s excellent ball to the right hand side of the box. On 67 minutes Grayson was forced into his first substitution when Mc.Cormack limped off, and although I was expecting Becchio to come on, in fact it was Snodgrass who took his place, making a very welcome return from injury.
Seven minutes later we thought we had scored when Sullivan spilled a shot from Johnson and Somma knocked it over the line, but it was ruled out by the linesman’s flag as the South African had been a yard offside when Johnson hit the original shot. As the game moved into the last few minutes Grayson sent Watt on for Gradel to give us a fresh pair of legs up front, but it was Donny who managed to mount a few late attacks. Bruce and Collins had to get their bodies in the way to block a couple of goalbound shots, but we didn’t deserve to have the game snatched from us after a much-improved performance.
Three minutes of injury time had failed to separate the teams, and Leeds had earned a point from a difficult away game against a team who are now third in the table. It could have been three, but this was a good result, and the team changes mostly worked well. If Grayson keeps Somma and Bruce in the team from now we should be able to build on this performance and start to climb the table.
Photo: Action Images
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