GREG HALFORD’s stoppage time penalty settled a pulsating derby to in Rotherham United’s favour in the most dramatic of fashions.
The Millers, reduced to ten men following the dismissal of Matt Derbyshire just after the hour mark, looked like having to settle for a point after Luke Murphy’s deflected shot had cancelled out Lee Frecklington’s opener.
Then, though, came a swift break by the Millers that ended with Marco Silvestri tripping Frecklington as he looked to put the ball in the net.
Referee Kevin Friend, who had earlier played a fine advantage during the break when Mirco Antenucci had clashed with Grant Ward, pointed to the spot and then dismissed Silvestri.
It meant defender Giuseppe Bellusci was in goal when Halford stepped forward to clinch a potentially vital three points.
With third bottom MK Dons losing to Fulham,victory was a major boost for the Millers in their quest to stay up. For Leeds, meanwhile, it was yet another desperately disappointing day.
Frecklington had struck the opener on 27 minutes with a sweet finish on the half volley on Steve Evans’ first return to his old club.
Joe Mattock’s flighted left wing cross had created the opening for Neil Warnock’s side in a contest that, in the most part, was an even affair.
Leeds had created the best opening before the breakthrough when Chris Wood fed Mirco Antenucci and the Italian brought a smart save from Lee Camp.
Wood was also guilty of mis controlling the ball on the edge of the area when within sight of goal after a pass from Toumani Diagouraga but, otherwise, chances were at a premium in the opening 45 minutes.
Giuseppe Bellusci unwittingly almost did something about that in the second half, as his awful attempted clearance went straight to Grant Ward. He crossed but Lewis Cook got back to beat Richie Smallwood to the ball.
Smallwood then fired wide on 53 minutes after Leeds had failed to clear a Greg Halford long throw before the hosts were reduced to ten men just after the hour.
Matt Derbyshire was the Miller who saw red after referee Kevin Friend adjudged the striker to have led with the elbow in a clash that left Gaetano Berardi needing lengthy treatment for a cut to his head.
With Rotherham switching to 4-4-1 with substitute Danny Ward as the lone forward, the onus was on the visitors.
Mirco Antenucci came close with a fine weaving run and shot that somehow Lee Camp got sufficient on to nudge wide of the post.
The Millers goalkeeper was at it again 13 minutes from time when his smart save kept out Antenucci before Joe Mattock blocked Stuart Dallas’s follow up.
An equaliser seemed to be coming amd, sure enough, 11 minutes from time substitute Luke Murphy took aim from 20 yards before hitting a shot that took a wicked deflection to wrong-foot Camp.
The visitors pushed for a winner but Liam Bridcutt’s shot was palmed over by Camp before Diagouraga had a shot blocked.
Then, in one final dramatic twist, Rotherham broke at speed and Danny Ward crossed for Frecklington, who was tripped by Silvestri.
Friend immediately brandished a red card at the United goalkeeper, meaning Bellusci was between the posts when Halford rolled in the resulting penalty.
Rotherham: Camp, Kelly, Broadfoot, Doyley, Mattock, Halford,
Grant Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Derbyshire, Best. Subs:
Wood, Thomas, Danny Ward, Richardson, Clarke-Harris, Newell,
Leeds: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Diagouraga,
Cook, Bridcutt, Mowatt, Wood, Antenucci. Subs: Cooper, Murphy,
Dallas, Carayol, Adeyemi, Coyle, Peacock-Farrell.
Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)
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