Leeds United draw a blank in final game

Liam Cooper, who went close with two headers for Leeds United against Rotherham.Liam Cooper, who went close with two headers for Leeds United against Rotherham.
Liam Cooper, who went close with two headers for Leeds United against Rotherham.
Two sides happy to have won their relegation fight played out a typical end of season game as Leeds United’s campaign ended in disappointing fashion with a goalless draw against Rotherham United.

With little at stake the game lacked intensity even though it was played out in front of the biggest crowd of the season at Elland Road and there were few chances at either end.

Home fans showed their support for head coach Neil Redfearn and his suspended assistant Steve Thompson with loud chants throughout and they had a bit of fun at the expense of Rotherham’s colourful manager, Steve Evans, with a party atmosphere for the final game of a really up and down season.

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There were only sporadic shouts of “time to go Massimo” towards the end as the supporters tried to stay in positive mood despite the less than thrilling football on the pitch.

Rotherham, who were delighted to finally beat the drop on Tuesday night, started the brighter, but it took 16 minutes for the first effort on goal and that was a 25-yard free-kick hit well wide by Danny Ward.

Two minutes later Ward saw his angled shot blocked then Danny Lafferty was wide with a diving header.

Steve Morison had the ball in the net for Leeds only to be correctly ruled offside before the hosts had their first effort on target in the 28th minute, Liam Cooper’s back header from the edge of the box being comfortably dealt with by keeper Emiliano Martinez.

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Charlie Taylor had a great chance on the half hour after some neat football and a good pull back by Scott Wootton, but took an extra touch and could not get a shot away in the box.

Rudy Austin saw a 35-yard shot deflected just wide as he looked to mark possibly his last game for the club with a spectacular goal.

Rotherham finished the half well with Ward’s shot from the edge of the box being saved by keeper Stuart Taylor and their best player, Ben Pringle, seeing his volley well blocked by Sol Bamba.

There was more goalmouth action early in the second half as the game briefly threatened to break out into excitement with Wootton seeing a shot blocked and Morison heading over from a Charlie Taylor cross.

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Mowatt then saw his shot deflected wide after he linked up cleverly with Morison and Cooper’s near post header from a corner was saved by Martinez.

Head coach Neil Redfearn put on Billy Sharp to go with two up front and Sharp almost had an immediate impact following a powerful run by Austin when he wriggled free in the box only to have his shot saved by Martinez from close range.

That was to be the last real chance, however, as the game petered out in the final half-hour.

Leeds did just about deserve to win, though, as Mowatt put a free-kick over from the edge of the box, Austin hit another long range blaster that had to be tipped wide by Martinez and Bamba’s header from a Luke Murphy corner was kept out by the visitors’ keeper.

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Rotherham’s only sights of goal in the closing stages were a Kari Arnason shot over from the angle of the box and a Jonson Clarke-Harris free-kick that was hit with such power that it bust the ball, but to Leeds’ relief was wide of the target.

At the end of the game the Leeds players went on their customary thank you lap of honour, although significantly none of the players not involved in this game took part.

Redfearn thought his side would have been good value for a win.

He said: “Both sides lacked a bit up front, but I thought we did enough to win the game, We had the better of the chances.

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“I could see the players were frustrated at half-time, but I told them they had to get used to this in the Championship. Sides don’t come and roll over.

“Rotherham played their part and were tough and resilient, played some good football in between and they created some chances on the break.

“Sometimes games like that you can’t quite get over the line and it’s important you don’t get beat. That’s what we’ve done, it was workmanlike.

“To get ourselves up into mid-table has got to be a plus. And to do it with a side that by and large has had an average age of 21.”

Match facts

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Sky Bet Championship

Attendance: 31,850

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Leeds: S Taylor, Wootton, Bamba, Cooper, Berardi (Sharp 56), Byram, Murphy, Austin, Mowatt (White 71), Taylor, Morison (Montenegro 81).

Rotherham: Martinez, Wilson, Morgan, Wood, Lafferty, Frecklington (Green 72), Arnason, Smallwood, Ward (Bowery 53), Pringle, Derbyshire (Clarke-Harris 60).

Referee: Andy D’Urso