Leeds United 1 Doncaster Rovers 2: McDermott deflects attention to Monday hearing

United's Ross McCormack shows his frustration.
United's Ross McCormack shows his frustration.
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LEEDS UNITED’S miserable week continued as Doncaster Rovers claimed a first away win since September.

First half goals from David Cotterill and Billy Sharp set Paul Dickov’s men on their way to a valuable three points.

United, after a truly shocking display in the opening 45 minutes, did rally after the interval and spent most of the second half camped in the Doncaster half.

But all they had to show for the pressure was a Ross McCormack strike as Rovers ended a six-game winless run against their derby rivals from Elland Road.

The three points were claimed on the back of an impressive first half performance from Paul Dickov’s men, who from the early exchanges looked more like the home side as they pressed the Leeds defence.

Such a positive attitude did not yield any chances in the first quarter. But, come the 23rd minute, all that changed as David Cotterill fired the visitors in front.

A corner only half-cleared by Alex Mowatt was returned to Cotterill, who took advantage of Leeds being slow to respond to the danger by settling himself and then hitting a fierce shot that flew beyond Jack Butland and into the net.

United’s response came via a couple of Ross McCormack free-kicks and then a scintillating run by Cameron Stewart that was only ended by a clumsy challenge from Paul Quinn, who was booked for his troubles.

Quinn had to be alert to keep out Matt Smith following lovely link-play down the right involving Sam Byram and Mowatt had opened up Doncaster.

Despite offering some long-overdue attacking threat, Leeds went in two goals down thanks to a superb turn and shot from Billy Sharp.

Brian McDermott’s response was to substitute Luke Murphy and Rodolph Austin, a totally ineffective central midfielder partnership in the first half, at the interval.

The move revived Leeds, who pulled a goal back just after the hour when McCormack headed in after Smith had diverted Danny Pugh’s free-kick in the striker’s direction.

As the home side pressed for an equaliser, Smith and Danny Pugh had efforts blocked while at the other end Coppinger blazed over when it seemed easier to hit the target.

Sam Johnstone was booked for a cynical tug on McCormack before Jason Pearce headed just wide from a corner.

Cameron Stewart then had a shot saved by Johnstone moments before McCormack shot high and wide from a Smith knockdown.

Smith then wasted the final chance of the game in stoppage time to ensure Doncaster claimed a first away since beating Sheffield Wednesday at Hillsborough on September 28.

McDermott is eagerly awaiting the outcome of Monday’s appeal by Massimo Cellino against the Italian’s failure to pass the Football League’s directors and owners test.

McDermott, who sees Monday’s verdict as vital to the club’s future, said: “The big picture is that Massimo has his appeal heard on Monday which is a very important day for this club. Forget about me. It is all about what is right for Leeds United going forward.

“We need this ownership issue sorted out as of yesterday because it has been a very difficult few months. I am not looking for excuses.

“I spoke to the players on Friday about the wages situation and it wasn’t an easy day but an agreement was reached.”

McDermott added: “We were in the top six around Christmas and what has happened since is frightening.

“Our first half performance was embarrassing. It was just horrible to watch. The two halves were as different as night and day. The first half was shocking but we got the goal quite early in the second half and there was a big improvement but we can’t go two goals down before starting to play.”

Doncaster gained their first win over their Yorkshire rivals in eight attempts and manager Paul Dickov said: “I was delighted. In the first half we were fantastic. You have to give Leeds a lot of credit because they put us under real pressure in the second half.

“This result gets us closer to safety, we have seven games left and our recent form is good. It was a rare away win and we are dedicating it to the fans who have supported us all over the country. All credit to the players for the pride they showed in their performance.

“We were disappointed with the goal they scored because we switched off and you can’t do that with Ross McCormack in their team. You can’t give yourselves a points target for survival in this league but we have given ourselves a chance.”