IMPROVING Leeds United enjoyed their first away win of the season in the Npower Championship as they ran out comfortable winners for the second time this season at the Keepmoat Stadium.
Friday night’s 3-0 victory over Doncaster Rovers was much more comfortable than the Carling Cup win in August and a second successive clean sheet pleased Whites manager Simon Grayson.
The defence, with Tom Lees impressive in only his second game for the club at centre-half, was rarely troubled and the result was never really in doubt once Leeds went one up in the 20th minute.
Danny Pugh’s second goal in successive matches gave United the advantage when he volleyed home from close range after Robert Snodgrass’s touchline free-kick had cleared everyone in the area.
Rovers rarely threatened to hit back as Leeds played calmly in the first period and the hosts managed only one effort on target in the whole of the first half, James Coppinger’s angled shot being easily dealt with by Andy Lonergan.
United had several chances on the break, but were let down by the final ball, although Ross McCormack went close with a near post flick and could have had a penalty in the same incident after being caught by former Leeds defender Richard Naylor.
McCormack brought a save out of home keeper Chris Kirkland with a long range free-kick and Andy Keogh also sent a 25-yard shot just wide, but it was largely dull stuff in the opening 45 minutes even if the visitors had the game largely under control.
United made a great start to the second half as McCormack took a pass in the box and flicked the ball up before spectacularly finding the net with an overhead volley.
A third goal followed on 64 minutes when young centre-back Lees headed home a corner from Snodgrass with the home defence static.
Keogh, who worked his socks off up front, came within a whisker of a fourth when turning well to get clear in the area only to see his shot stay out off the underside of the crossbar.
Manager Grayson was able to enjoy a rare comfortable night and was full of praise for his players.
He said: “It was a very good performance, very professional and we did a lot of good things in terms of the work rate of the team.
“We made them make mistakes, we had good counter attack ability, defended very well as individuals and as a team and it was rounded off with a clean sheet and a very comfortable night for us.
“Doncaster are a threat with balls going into Parkin with Billy Sharp around him, but we defended really well and you could see that the players were determined to keep a clean sheet. They kept working and chasing right to the very end.
“There was a determination to build on the Portsmouth result and we did everything required and we have worked on in the week.
“There were many good performances. I thought the two centre-halves were outstanding and our midfield players and strikers typified the work rate of the whole team.
“There was good combination play between Ross McCormack and Andy Keogh. They both did ever so well without possession as well. They led the line well and closed the opposition down and got their just rewards. Unfortunately for Andy he hit the bar instead of scoring, but Ross took that opportunity and he’s playing with a huge amount of confidence – I’m delighted for him.”
Doncaster Rovers 0
Leeds United 3
(Pugh 20, McCormack 51, Lees 64)
Friday, October 14, 2011
Doncaster: Kirkland, O’Connor, Naylor, Friend, Ilunga, Oster (Bennett 61), Gillett, Stock, Coppinger (Mason 61), Parkin (Hayter 69), Sharp.
Leeds: Lonergan (Rachubka 77), Connolly, Lees, O’Dea, White, Snodgrass, Howson, Clayton (Vayrynen 85), Pugh, McCormack (Becchio 71), Keogh.
Referee: Kevin Friend.