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Match Report: Leeds United 3-2 Doncaster Rovers (Leeds Fan's Perspective)

Sunday 19th February 2012
On a day where actions on the pitch weren't the main talking point, Leeds made themselves noticed after coming from two goals down to beat Doncaster Rovers 3-2 in a thrilling game at Elland Road.

Earlier in the day Leeds United confirmed that former Sheffield United, Crystal Palace and, most recently, QPR manager Neil Warnock was to take the helm following the departure of Simon Grayson 3 weeks ago. After a long drawn out process it seems that Ken Bates finally got his man.

 

So there was an added incentive for the Leeds players given the chance to impress their new boss in what was to become a fiery Yorkshire derby.

Leeds were on a poor run of form with only one win in their last four and came into this game hoping to for a massive three points to rekindle their promotion hopes. Leeds made two changes from the side that were beaten by previously bottom of the league Coventry. Adam Smith was left out as Alex Bruce came in for his first appearance of the season and Andros Townsend was recalled after Fabien Delph returned to Aston Villa. Donny were hoping for a win to keep their hopes of survival alive. The bottom side made three changes with Pascal Chimbonda, Giles Barnes and Simon Gillett coming in for James O'Connor, John Oster and Martin Woods.

 

For the first couple of minutes Doncaster were down to ten men with Pascal Chimbonda having to remove an item of illegal clothing after the pre match handshake, yet Leeds didn't take advantage in an opening ten minutes which set the tone for the first half.

Leeds' lack of conviction in front of goal and poor final ball was nearly punished on ten minutes. El-Hadji Diouf won a header from a dangerous free-kick, which found a way onto the backheel of Habib Bamogo who could only divert it onto the post.

However that was the only influence the Rovers striker would have on the game, being taken off injured on 24 minutes to be replaced by Mamadou Bagayoko. And the substitute only took ten minutes to make his mark on the game by giving Donny the lead. Diouf played the ball over the top for James Hayter, whose shot was blocked by keeper Andy Lonergan before Bagayoko pounced to slot under the Leeds keeper to score his first goal for the club.

Leeds showed little in attack for the rest of the half, as the opposition's defence held up well. Warnock was unable to keep away and went down to the changing rooms to have another word with his players at the break.

Yet these words seemed to fall on deaf ears as Doncaster continued where they left off, with James Hayter stunning the crossbar from 20 yards out. This was followed by United finally getting a good chance at goal but Luciano Becchio headed over.

 

On 54 minutes Leeds were broken again. Simon Gilett fed Tommy Spurr who found Diouf at the far post. He volleyed the ball back across goal onto the head of Bagayoko, who again found himself in the right place at the right time to give Rovers a two goal lead.

This was met with frustration from the home fans, with calls of “Bates Out” ringing around Elland Road as the fans' anger turned on the man at the top. However, 90 seconds later Leeds found a way back into the match. Good play and a little bit of luck for Ross McCormack led to the ball falling to Danny Pugh, who stuck out a leg to tee up Andros Townsend. Townsend's fired into the bottom corner to give Leeds a lifeline with his first goal for the club.

Leeds were the ascendancy, yet it was Donny who looked more dangerous with efforts from Giles Barnes and Bagayoko both being saved by Lonergan before the dangerous Hayter fired wide. Down the other end Townsend came close from 30 yards as Leeds strived for an equaliser. Leeds had another chance with Robert Snodgrass providing a cross for Becchio, who this time was thwarted keeper David Button.

And finally the pressure told on Rovers on the 80th minute. A Leeds corner eventually broke to Snodgrass down the left and beat Diouf before firing in a low cross which was met by the outstretched leg of Adam Clayton, who diverted the ball in off the underside of the crossbar to equalise.

Finally the crowd was buoyed and the atmosphere inside Elland Road was one of optimism rather than dejection, as it had been up to this point. Yet it would then turn to worry after a horrible clash of heads between Spurr and debutant Robbie Rogers which left both players needing to be stretchered off to applause from both sets of supporters.

 

Despite the lengthy stoppage Leeds' pushed on and their attacking pressure eventually forced Rovers' defence to buckle nine minutes into injury time. A poor defensive clearance from Chimbonda fell to Becchio, whose initial shot was blocked by a Leeds player. But at the second attempt Becchio curled the ball sumptuously into the top left hand corner, past the flailing arm of Button.

This was met by jubilation from the 21,000 strong crowd and the celebrations of the players were with Neil Redfearn, as they showed their appreciation and thanks to their caretaker boss.

As the final whistle blew there were smiles all round for Leeds. Even Warnock seemed to enjoy himself as he saw the best and worst of his new side. Donny can take many positives from the 90 minutes, during which they will feel they should have won, but it is Leeds who go marching on into a new era under their new manager.

Leeds: Lonergan, Bruce, Lees, O'Dea, White, Snodgrass, Pugh (Brown 60), Clayton, Townsend (Rogers 79, Forssell 90), McCormack, Becchio. Unused subs: M Taylor, Connolly.

Goals: Townsend 53, Clayton 80, Becchio 90+9

Doncaster: Button, Lockwood, Hird, Spurr, Chimbonda, Gillett, Stock, Bamogo (Bagayoko 24), Hayter (Robert 89), Barnes, Diouf. Unused subs: Martis, O'Connor, Oster.

Goals: Bagayoko 31, 52
Jack Deaton
I'm an 18 year old student currently studying for a degree in Broadcast Journalism. My aim is to become either a football writer or a football commentator.

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