McCormack goal cannot save Leeds United

Despite a stirring comeback in the second half and another goal for Ross McCormack Leeds United suffered another defeat when they lost 2-1 to Doncaster Rovers at Elland Road.
Ross McCormack.Ross McCormack.
Ross McCormack.

The Whites were ultimately unlucky to lose after bombarding Rovers after the break, but were made to pay for a poor first 45 minutes when the visitors led through their only two shots on target.

Once again Leeds were slow out of the traps and off the pace and it was no surprise that Doncaster took the lead on 23 minutes. David Cotterill was given all the time in the world to line up a shot from the angle of the box after a corner had not been cleared and he fired the ball into the top corner with a superb strike.

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Rovers kept the ball well in midfield, but did not threaten home keeper Jack Butland further until they added a second goal in first half injury-time through Billy Sharp, who turned past Sam Byram in the area to shoot into the bottom corner of the net.

But in between the goals United rarely threatened with a Cameron Stewart shot from the edge of the box their only worthwhile effort.

They did go close in injury-time, however, with McCormack’s header saved low down by Rovers keeper Sam Johnstone and Tom Lees heading wide from the resulting corner.

Leeds boss Brian McDermott put on Aidy White and Michael Tonge at the start of the second half for disappointing midfield duo Rudy Austin and Luke Murphy and there was a marked improvement.

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Suddenly they had more width to their play, got some decent balls into tall striker Matt Smith and began to create chances.

Smith headed one half-chance wide and Rovers survived huge shouts for a penalty as Stewart’s cross was blocked by the arm of a defender before United pulled a goal back. Smith headed down a Danny Pugh free-kick perfectly into the path of McCormack who then guided his header past Johnstone.

James Coppinger was presented with a decent chance at the other end soon after only to hit his shot over, but it was all Leeds from then on.

They could not quite get the equaliser they deserved, however, with Pugh’s goalbound shot being blocked, Smith heading a good opportunity over from Alex Mowatt’s cross and Stewart seeing a half-volley saved.

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Doncaster could have gone down to 10 men on 73 minutes when McCormack beat keeper Johnstone to the ball on the bye-line and went round him just outside the area only to be grabbed back. But referee Darren Bond went on the side of leniency and left the stopper on the pitch, just showing him a yellow card.

McCormack then missed a great chance to equalise after getting on the end of another Smith flick-on, blazing his shot well over from inside the box.

One last chance came United’s way in injury-time when Smith headed over after appearing to jump a little too early and they were left to reflect on what might have been if they had played better in the first half.

Match facts

(McCormack 62)

(Cotterill 23, Sharp 45+1)

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Sky Bet Championship

Att: 23,476

Leeds: Butland; Byram, Lees, Pearce, Pugh; Mowatt, Austin (Tonge 45), Murphy (White 45), Stewart; McCormack, Smith.

Doncaster: Johnstone; Neill, Quinn, Meite, Husband; Coppinger, Wellens (Furman 70), Keegan, Cotterill; Brown, Sharp (Robinson 83).

Referee: Darren Bond.