Rotherham FC 1 Leeds United 1 – curse of the early goal

Rotherham FC 1 Leeds United 1 - curse of the early goal. A sluggish Leeds didn’t take their chances in the first half and allowed Rotherham FC back into the match.

Rotherham FC 1 Leeds United 1 – curse of the early goal. A sluggish Leeds didn’t take their chances in the first half and allowed Rotherham FC back into the match and blunted a second Leeds attack full of attacking substitutes.

After the international break Leeds United went into the Yorkshire derby at Rotherham with six wins out of seven outings, cutting the gap to the top two places to eight points. The Millers have had a difficult time with a 5-0 defeat at Watford prior to the international break with Matt Taylor being dismissed, replaced by assistant manager Wayne Carlisle.

Georginio Rutter, who picked up an abdominal strain on international duty with France’s Under-21s was luckily back in the first team.  Defenders Pascal Struijk and Sam Byram were both back on the bench after a hernia operation and hamstring injury, respectively. So Firpo and Cooper started, but no Spence on the bench yet.

Ex-Leeds player Weston McKennie, was also in the headlines, who had returned to Juventus.  “I didn’t have the best performances. I felt I let certain people down,” McKennie told Sky Italia. An understatement.

Leeds got the early goal they wanted but then failed to capitalise on it with a lack of cutting edge in front of the Rotherham FC goal. Ultimately, they paid a price for the casual play when, in the first half extra time, Rotherham FC caught Leeds asleep in their defence and equalised.

Leeds’ first half goal came when Summerville left his man with that trademark lob over the top for Summerville to have a clear run on the keeper to give him enough of angle to stroke the ball past the keeper into the corner of the net.

Leeds dominated the play for long periods with a slow careful waiting game until the moment came to attack.  This demanded patience from the fans who expect it to result in goal which did not come. 

Leeds’ dominance in the first half should have seen them clear.  Their technical weakness in front of goal was shown when, from a Rotherham FC corner Leeds break with everyone running forward; Summerville’s pace gets the ball into the penalty box only for Kamara to smash it into the side netting with forwards lining up. 

A nervous start to the second half saw Cooper on the goal line saving Leeds from going behind.  A revived Rotherham FC blunted Leeds attack in the second half.  So Farke brought on Poveda, Gnonto and Bamford to go for attack.  The game opened up in the last quarter as Farke used up his subs – Bamford, Gnonto and Struijk all having shots on goal and missing.  A masterful performance by Leeds in the closing stages led to the ball in the net but a misfiring Bamford was off side.

Rodon was commanding in defence with Kamara exhilarating in winning balls.  Gray continues to grow in his right back role versatile in defence and moving up the right wing.  Georginio’s precision in passing forward was as again impressive. Apart from Cooper’s goal line block he now lacks the pace for first team football. When Gnonto came on he added chaos and is a contender to start.

Farke complained the fixture on Friday didn’t give his international players enough time to rest and train and it showed in their sluggishness. They suffered from that curse of the early goal and didn’t finish them off in the first half. Ultimately, a lack of sharpness in front of goal cost them a win. Nor did they have the luck of a certain penalty shout.

Man of the match: Kamara winning the ball and distribution until he ran out of steam.

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