Rotherham United 1 Leeds United 2
Well, we had to win this one … and we did. And for 80 minutes of the game we’d done just about enough, although we had plenty of help from a Rotherham side that is clear out of luck as well as ability. Two early injuries robbed them of key players in their defence and then a touch of brain fade from Peter Odemwingie that saw him sent off seemed to have all but sealed the game in our favour, particularly when Sully Doukara doubled our lead with one of his trade mark inch-perfect shots that found the corner of the net.
So the second half ought to have been a stroll in the park… and in fact for much of it that’s the way Leeds played it… just strolling about keeping possession. 75% of the ball we had in this game, yet by the end of it the Millers had created almost as many chances from their meagre possession and got just as many on target as we did! We just seemed unable to create much despite having all that possession and actually the quality of our passing left a lot to be desired too. The reason we created so little was that too often that final pass went astray; Eunan O’Kane was more guilty than most of that sin as throughout the second half he continually wasted pass after pass. He hit them too hard, too soft and mostly in the wrong direction.
Even so, with ten minutes to go and the game won we ought to have closed this out far more efficiently than we did. We sat too deep, those passes kept going astray and slowly but surely Rotherham got the scent of an escape route. We tried three times to head away a late corner but each time it came back and finally Richard Wood headed it past Green. Cue a scene from the Alamo as, with nothing to lose, the home side threw caution to the wind and just went for it. They almost pulled it off too, as several goal mouth scrambles had us all biting our nails to the quick. Thankfully, our luck or possibly our bravery saw us through to the vital three points. At the final whistle it felt more like a draw than a win though and on another day it could easily have gone that way.
Without Pablo Hernandez, we just lack anyone with that killer pass in them. That was possibly the problem with O’Kane, he was trying the sort of passes Pablo routinely makes but the Irishman is no Pablo. On the plus side, I don’t think we missed Pontus Jansson as Liam Cooper did a steady job alongside Kyle Bartley. I was pleased to see Hadi Sacko back in the side and am sure he has to play every week while Doukara and Roofe did well enough in a different sort of way than if Pablo was there to guide them.
It is hard to know how this line up would fare against the likes of Villa, Brighton and Reading and I really do hope we don’t get to find out. We are desperate to see Pablo back and we’d benefit with Liam Bridcutt and Dallas back in the side too. As we know though, we do not have much cover when any of our main men can’t play. For now, this was a job done… just, but I don’t think we leaned as much about this side of ours as we expected we would today. We now have the “free hit” of a game at Anfield and then we’ll see how we fare against a revitalised Villa next Saturday.
Rotherham Leeds Utd
Possession 25% 75%
Shots 12 13
On Target 3 3
Corners 6 4
Fouls 13 8