Bamba’s goal was not enough to earn anything against a side already relegated

Sat 30th of April Leeds 1 (Bamba 71), CHARLTON 2 (Gudmundsson 39, Lookman 49) United team: Silvestri, Coyle, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt (Antenucci 66), Murphy (Diagouraga 75), Cook, Dallas (Mowatt 50), Botaka, Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Phillips, Erwin. Referee: Keith Hill. Booked: Kashi, Diarra (Charlton) tt: 25,458 (363 Charlton) United’s final home game of the 2015/16 campaign, the visit of already relegated Charlton Athletic, saw head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the previous weekend’s 2-2 draw at Hull City, with Lewie Coyle, Luke Murphy and Jordan Botaka all returning to the starting line-up in place of Gaetano Berardi, Toumani Diagouraga and Lee Erwin. United, who entered the game looking to extend their four-match unbeaten run, started the brighter of the two sides and called Charlton goalkeeper Nick Pope into action within the opening three minutes. Chris Wood seized upon a loose ball inside the Addicks half and slotted Murphy through to race free on goal, only for Pope to rush off his line and block with his legs. Charlton soon threatened at the opposite end as Ademola Lookman curled a free-kick just wide from 20 yards out after being tripped by Liam Bridcutt, but United were playing with an air of confidence and the Botaka-Dallas combination that had clinched a point at Hull seven days earlier opened it up for Dallas to drag a low effort wide. Dallas then had Pope back-pedalling desperately to tip his wicked free-kick over the crossbar as it looked to creep in, before Charlie Taylor fired high and wide after a surging run towards the edge of the Charlton penalty box. Despite being forced to soak up United’s early pressure, it was the visitors who came closest to breaking the deadlock midway through the first half as Johann Gudmundsson’s low strike cannoned back off Marco Silvestri’s post from 25 yards out. Leeds saw half chances fall for Lewis Cook and Wood, while Liam Bridcutt lashed over the crossbar from distance after Botaka’s side-footed volley had rebounded into his path, but it was Charlton who opened the scoring on 39 minutes through Gudmundsson. Morgan Fox burst down the left and delivered a low cross for the Icelandic midfielder to guide home with a simple close-range finish, giving the Addicks a slender lead to take into the interval. Both sides re-emerged unchanged from the break and Charlton were able to double their advantage within four minutes of the restart, Lookman firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after being found in space by Gudmundsson. Elland Road was stunned to silence as United’s deficit increased, but the hosts looked to mount a quick response and only the Charlton crossbar stood in the way of Wood from pulling one back after heading Taylor’s cross goalwards. It signalled the start of a decent spell of pressure from Evans’ side, with Liam Cooper heading Taylor’s corner over the bar before Botaka’s effort was deflected behind following a cutback from second-half substitute Alex Mowatt. The visitors remained a threat on the counter-attack, though, and issued United a timely reminder of their intent to add a third as Callum Harriot curled agonisingly wide from the edge of the area. Botaka then looped a header over the bar from a corner under pressure from Pope, before United did manage to pull one back on 71 minutes, captain Sol Bamba heading home his fourth of the season from six yards out after meeting Taylor’s inch-perfect cross. Mirco Antenucci had replaced Bridcutt moments earlier and the striker came close to a quick-fire equaliser after threading into the area by Wood, only for his strike to be blocked by Pope from a tight angle. nited’s attack pairing soon combined again, with Antenucci taking his turn to slot Wood through on goal, but Pope was there again to deny the New Zealander with his feet. United threw everything forward as the game entered six minutes of stoppage time, but there proved to be no way through despite late efforts on goal from Bamba, Cooper and Cook.

Sat April 23rd HULL 2 (Hernandez 45+1, Huddlestone 45+3), Leeds (Wood 15, Dallas 88) United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba (Coyle 75), Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Diagouraga (Murphy 57), Cook, Dallas, Erwin (Botaka 45), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Phillips, Antenucci. Referee: Iain Williamson. Booked: Odubajo, Maguire, Livermore (Hull), Bamba, Cooper (United) Att: 20,732 (2,356 United)

Hull City v Leeds United

Dallas celebrated his late equaliser with Luke Murphy

United’s penultimate away day of the campaign came in the shape of the relatively short trip to Hull City’s KC Stadium, and head coach Steve Evans made two changes to his side from the midweek victory over Wolverhampton Wanderers. On-loan midfielder Liam Bridcutt returned to the starting line-up in place of Luke Murphy after a spell out with injury, while Stuart Dallas replaced Lewie Coyle on the right wing. It was the hosts who started the brighter of the two sides, forcing the first corner of the afternoon within the opening minute before Chuba Akpom threatened twice with efforts in quick succession. Liam Cooper got in the way of his first from 10 yards out, deflecting the ball behind for a corner, before Marco Silvestri held his second after cutting inside. Tom Huddlestone then drilled wide with a 30-yard strike after a corner was cleared into his path, but United started to get into the game after a decent spell of possession inside the Hull half and Charlie Taylor’s back-post free-kick was hacked clear after Sol Bamba was just unable to pick out a white shirt with his return ball. Hull had undoubtedly enjoyed the better of the early chances, but it was United who managed to break the deadlock after 15 minutes, Chris Wood converting Taylor’s inch-perfect cross from six yards out with a half-volley into the top corner to take his tally to 12 for the season. The hosts looked to mount a quick response and Silvestri was called into a fine, one-handed save to tip Akpom’s curling effort over the bar from the edge of the area. The United defence then held firm to keep out a series of crosses from the club’s former winger Robert Snodgrass after some tricky runs down the right, before Curtis Davies glanced a near-post corner over the crossbar as Hull chased an equaliser. That pattern continued as the first half progressed, with Harry Maguire hitting a low strike wide from distance before Taylor blocked brilliantly to deny Moses Odubajo a sight of goal as his effort looped onto the roof of the net. Hull’s pressure eventually told in first-half stoppage time, though, and the hosts turned the game on its head with two quick-fire goals as Hernandez tapped home a Snodgrass cross from close-range before Huddlestone drilled into the bottom corner from 20 yards out. Evans introduced Jordan Botaka in place of Lee Erwin as the second half resumed, and United were awarded a golden opportunity to get back on level terms within eight minutes of the restart as Odubjajo tripped Taylor inside the area. Up stepped Wood, looking to double his tally for the afternoon, but McGregor guessed right to keep out his spot-kick with a fine save before smothering the loose ball. Evans was soon prompted into his second change, replacing Toumani Diagouraga with Murphy in midfield, but Hull were starting to push for a third as Gaetano Berardi blocked superbly to deny Hernandez before Snodgrass drilled a first-time strike over the bar after being teed up on the edge of the area. United withstood the pressure well but were made to be patient for openings at the opposite end as set-pieces appeared the most likely source of an equaliser. There were worrying scenes for the visitors on 75 minutes as Berardi was forced to leave the field on a stretcher following a challenge from former United loanee Jake Livermore, with Lewie Coyle stepping off the bench to replace him at full-back. Akpom dragged wide for Hull in the closing stages, but it was to be United who had the final say as Dallas clinched a point with two minutes remaining, firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area after being teed up by Botaka

Fri 22nd of April United need stability as Evans linked with Celtic Steve Evans last night moved to distance himself from the Celtic manager’s job as he urged Leeds United to take “an opportunity for stability” by extending his contract as head coach. Steve Evans last night moved to distance himself from the Celtic manager’s job as he urged Leeds United to take “an opportunity for stability” by extending his contract as head coach. Odds on Evans becoming Celtic’s new boss have tumbled since the Scottish club announced on Wednesday that they would part company with Ronny Deila at the end of the season. Lifelong Celtic fan Evans, however, said his attention was fixed on earning a new contract at Elland Road and claimed his current post was the “only job at that appeals to me”. The 53-year-old Scot will be in the market for a new club this summer unless United owner Massimo Cellino decides to back him and renew a short-term deal which expires in June. Prior to news of Deila’s planned exit from Parkhead, Evans was already being linked with the vacancy at managerless Championship side Nottingham Forest. His reputation has been enhanced by a 35-game reign at Leeds in which the club have moved comfortably clear of the Championship’s relegation zone. In spite of that, Cellino appears to be hinting at another change of first-team boss – the seventh of his two-year tenure as majority shareholder. Simon Grayson, who was sacked in February 2012, is the last manager to see out two full seasons with Leeds and Evans said the Yorkshire club had “needed stability for some time”. Next season will be United’s seventh successive year in the Championship and a 13th outside the Premier League. “This club needs stability,” Evans said. “It’s needed it for some time. It has an opportunity to have some stability now. “I’ve never hidden the fact that this is a club I’d love to be in charge of next season. I know what the pressure will be and the remit that comes with it but I’m as confident as I can be that if I get the support from the president, a promotion campaign will follow. “The only job that appeals to me at the moment is being head coach of Leeds United. I want to be the Leeds United head coach going forward. I’ve never hidden that but the final decision lies with someone else. I’ll be employed next season in football but I’d love to be here.” Celtic and Deila agreed to part company in the wake of a Scottish Cup semi-final defeat to Rangers on Sunday. Former Everton and Manchester United boss David Moyes, an ex-Celtic player, is the bookmakers’ favourite to replace Deila. Evans’ odds have dropped from 66/1 to 5/1 in the past 48 hours but he refused to fuel speculation as he prepared for tomorrow’s game against Hull City, Leeds’ penultimate away fixture. He described Celtic as an “iconic club” but said all other managerial opportunities would be disregarded by him if Cellino stepped forward with a new deal. “It’s flattering for any coach to be linked to any job but you can’t let it take away focus from the job in hand. Our sole focus is Hull,” Evans said. “Celtic are an iconic football club but Leeds United are an iconic football club. My only focus is on representing this famous badge. “I’ll always be a Celtic supporter. I’ve supported them since I was two – and that’s not two years old, that’s two seconds old! You’re born a Celtic supporter, the same as Leeds supporters. That’s why there’s so many of them and that’s why they’re both great clubs. But I’m the head coach of this great club and that’s the only focus I’ve got.”

LEEDS V WOLVES 19/04/2016

Sol Bamba celebrates his screamer v Wolves

Tues April 19th UNITED 2 (Bamba 60, Diagouraga 64), WOLVES 1 (Saville 77) United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Coyle (Dallas 56), Diagouraga, Murphy (Bridcutt 80), Cook, Erwin (Botaka 74), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Bellusci, Phillips, Antenucci. Referee: David Coote Booked: Iorfa (Wolves) Att: 17,694 (478 Wolves) The midweek visit of Wolverhampton Wanderers saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the weekend’s 3-2 victory over Reading, with captain Sol Bamba returning from illness to replace Giuseppe Bellusci in defence, Lewie Coyle trading places with Stuart Dallas on the wing and Lee Erwin making his first United start in place of Mirco Antenucci in attack. The two sides entered the penultimate Elland Road fixture of the 2015/16 campaign looking to boost their chances of securing a top-10 finish. With no real pressure on either team, though, it made for an open start to proceedings and chances were aplenty during the early exchanges. Wolves were the first to threaten, George Saville firing wide from the edge of the area after meeting Jeremy Helan’s cutback, before Chris Wood, United’s match winner with a brace against Reading three days earlier, muscling his way through the visitors’ defence to rattle the outside of the post with a low strike at the opposite end. Wolves’ best chance of the early stages fell to James Henry, with the winger found arriving unmarked at the back post by Bjorn Sigurdarson’s floated cross, only to scuff wide on the half-volley from six yards out. Wood was looking United’s most likely source of an opening goal and this season’s top scorer hit a ferocious 25-yard free-kick just wide of Carl Ikeme’s far post before the Wolves ‘keeper was able to hold Wood’s volley from a Lewis Cook cross. The New Zealand international was playing with an air of confidence after taking his tally into double figures at the weekend, and he carved another opening for himself on 34 minutes with a deft shimmy away from his marker on the edge of the area before firing wide. United continued to enjoy the better of the first-half chances and Erwin was the next to threated, firing wide on the turn after taking Bamba’s cross-field pass on his chest on the stroke of half-time. The two sides re-emerged unchanged from the break and the second period began in an equally as lively manner, with Wolves the first to come close through Matt Doherty’s strike, before Taylor’s 30-yard free-kick bounced wide of Ikeme’s far post. United eventually broke the deadlock on the hour mark, and it came in spectacular fashion through the unlikely source of Bamba. Dallas, a replacement for Lewie Coyle moments earlier, spread the ball to the Leeds captain on the edge of the area, allowing him to control on his chest before unleashing a sensational half-volley into the top corner. And things got even better just four minutes later, Toumani Diagouraga doubling the advantage with his second goal from as many matches with a sweeping finish from Cook’s low cross. The hosts pushed in search of a third, with Ikeme holding Luke Murphy’s curling low effort after cutting inside on the edge of the area, but Wolves managed to pull one back against the run of play, Saville picking out the bottom corner with 13 minutes remaining to set up a potentially nervy finale. United had introduced fresh legs shortly before conceding, Jordan Botaka making a rare appearance in place of Erwin, and the Congolese international was agonisingly close to putting the game to bed as his sweetly-struck first-time effort cannoned back off the underside of the crossbar. Wolves then pushed for an equaliser, substitute Joe Mason seeing his low strike blocked superbly by the legs of Silvestri, but Cook and Dallas had further chances to wrap it up late on as United were good value in making it three league victories in the space of a week.


Chris Wood celebrates his brace v Reading inc a late winner

Sat April 16th UNITED 3 (Diagouraga 48, Wood 69, 85), READING 2 (Hector 39, Rakels 81) United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Diagouraga (Phillips 66), Murphy, Cook, Dallas (Coyle 90+1), Antenucci (Erwin 80), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Sloth, Botaka. Referee: Jeremy Simpson Booked: Cooper, Antenucci (United), Evans, Norwood, McCleary (Reading) Att: 20, 881 (480 away fans) The visit of Reading saw United head coach Steve Evans make just the one change from the midweek victory away to Birmingham City, with Giuseppe Bellusci returning to the defence in place of captain Sol Bamba, who missed out with illness. It was a lively start to proceedings at Elland Road, with good chances at both ends during the early exchanges. Mirco Antenucci came closest for United, squeezing in a shot in from a tight angle which needed Jake Cooper to be alert to hack off the Reading goal-line, while Marco Silvestri was called upon to deny Simon Cox after the striker had slipped through one-on-one. Michael Hector then dragged a low effort wide after the resulting Reading corner fell into his path at the back post, but United created the game’s best opening after 15 minutes, only for Antenucci to skew a first-time strike well wide after being teed up by Chris Wood on the edge of the area. Corners appeared to be the Royals’ most likely source of finding a way through in the early stages, and Hector should have troubled Silvestri after rising unchallenged to glance wide from six yards out. Cox was also guilty of failing to hit the target as he lashed wide from the edge of the area after surging through the middle of the United defence, but Hector made no mistake to open the scoring on 39 minutes, slotting home a free-kick from close-range after being found arriving unmarked at the back post. United looked to mount a quick response and Reading’s Jake Cooper was fortunate not to turn a Dallas cross into his own net as his clearance bounced behind, before Wood headed well over the bar on the stroke of half-time. United made a dream start to the second half, though, pulling level within three minutes of the restart courtesy of Toumani Diagouraga’s second goal for the club. The midfielder, a January arrival from Brentford, was picked out by Gaetano Berardi’s pin-point cross from the right to guide a downwards header beyond Ali Al-Habsi from close-range. Lucas Piazon then threatened to restore the visitors’ lead, twice firing wide in quick succession from a similar position 20 yards out. But United had the momentum and substitute Kalvin Phillips saw his strike blocked on the edge of the area within minutes of stepping off the bench, before Wood headed the hosts into a deserved lead. The striker, taking his tally to 10 for the season, met Charlie Taylor’s cross from the left and, although Al-Habsi got a strong hand on it in a valiant attempt to claw to safety, the linesman ruled the ball had crossed the line. Reading substitute Deniss Rakels pulled the visitors level as the game headed towards the closing stages, though, hammering the ball home from inside the area after Cox’s initial effort had cannoned off the crossbar and into his path. It looked set to be ending honours even, but Wood was on hand in a frantic finale to clinch the three points five minutes from time, racing through on goal to slot beyond Al-Habsi for his second of the afternoon to make it back-to-back Championship victories for United.

Tues 12th of April BIRMINGHAM 1 (Donaldson 53), UNITED 2 (Dallas 11, 50) United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Diagouraga, Murphy (Bellusci 87), Cook, Dallas (Carayol 82), Antenucci (Mowatt 69), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Adeyemi, Phillips. Referee: Christopher Kavanagh Booked: Lafferty (Birmingham), Berardi, Bamba (United) Sent-off: Alex M Att: 16,081 (1,365 United) 


Dallas celebrates his brace v Brum

The re-arranged midweek trip to Birmingham City saw United head coach Steve Evans make just one change from the narrow defeat at league leaders Burnley three days earlier, with Mirco Antenucci returning to the side in place of Mustapha Carayol. It was Antenucci who had the first meaningful effort of the night at St Andrew’s just six minutes into the game, skipping inside of his marker before seeing his dipping shot bounce wide from 20 yards out, before strike partner Chris Wood was inches away from meeting Gaetano Berardi’s low cross with an outstretched leg following a flowing attacking move. United had started the brighter of the two sides and duly opened the scoring after 11 minutes, Stuart Dallas leaving Adam Legzdins with no chance as his 20-yard strike whistled beyond the lunging Birmingham goalkeeper and into the bottom corner. It was a deserved lead and one which could have been doubled moments later, only for Lewis Cook’s volley to cannon back off a blue shirt inside the area after meeting Charlie Taylor’s left-wing cross. The visitors, who were controlling the early exchanges with relative ease, continued to push forward in search of a second goal, with captain Sol Bamba towering a header over from Taylor’s deep corner. Birmingham started to come into it shortly after the half-hour mark, with Ryan Shotton flicking David Cotterill’s free-kick wide after being found unmarked inside the area, before Jonathan Grounds cut inside to fire high and wide from the edge of the United box. Leeds were good value for the advantage, though, and only a near-post block from Legzdins denied Cook from making it two following a swift break on the stroke of half-time. Both sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and the second half started in frantic fashion as Dallas doubled United’s lead and his tally for the evening with a thunderous 20-yard volley within just five minutes of the restart, leaving Legzdins helpless with a real Goal of the Season contender. But Birmingham soon hit back, halving their deficit at the opposite end just three minutes later as Clayton Donaldson forced the ball home from close-range after Cotterill’s free-kick was parried into his path. The 1,365 travelling United supporters then thought their side had quickly restored the two-goal advantage two minutes later, only for Bamba to half-volley into the side-netting after Liam Cooper had flicked a corner into his feet at the back post. The visitors started to crank up the pressure, though, as they pushed forward in search of an equaliser. Cook was in the right place at the right time to hack Grounds’ downwards header off the line from a corner, before Silvestri beat away a dipping half-volley from Kyle Lafferty and gathered the striker’s second attempt. The Blues did have the ball in the back of the net on 75 minutes, but Donaldson was denied a second of the evening as the offside flag ruled out his precise finish into the bottom corner. Their biggest chance to level fell to substitute Diego Fabbrini with little under 10 minutes remaining on the clock, but he blazed well over the crossbar from six yards out after being picked out by Lafferty, much to the relief of the United defenders surrounding him. United substitute Alex Mowatt then blazed over at the opposite end, before the visitors, who were reduced to 10 men in the final seconds following a straight red card for Mowatt, withstood some further late pressure during four minutes of added time to seal a return to winning ways after four games without tasting victory.

Sat April 9th BURNLEY 1 (Arfield 1), UNITED 0 United team: Silvestri, Berardi, Bamba, Cooper, Taylor, Diagouraga (Adeyemi 81), Murphy, Cook, Dallas (Mowatt 87), Carayol (Antenucci 65), Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Bellusci, Phillips. Referee: Lee Mason Booked: Murphy (United), Barton (Burnley) Att: 18,229 (2,188 United)

BURNLEY V LEEDS 09/04/2016

Charlie Taylor in action v Burnley in a game Leeds could have won never mind drawn or lost

The televised lunchtime trip to Burnley saw United head coach Steve Evans make three changes from the midweek draw at home to Queens Park Rangers, with goalkeeper Marco Silvestri returning to the side in place of youngsters Bailey Peacock-Farrell. Elsewhere, Liam Bridcutt missed out through injury so Toumani Diagouraga stepped into the midfield, while captain Sol Bamba replaced Giuseppe Bellusci in defence. But United couldn’t have made a worse start to proceedings at Turf Moor as the hosts took the lead inside the opening minute, Scott Arfield firing into the bottom corner from the edge of the area to round off Burnley’s first attack of the game. Evans’ side looked to mount a quick response, though, and Bamba’s sweetly-struck volley – after the ball had fallen kindly into this path 20 yards out – forced the Clarets’ England goalkeeper Tom Heaton into his first save of the afternoon to beat the strike away with two hands.League leaders Burnley, who entered the game looking to extend their 17-match unbeaten run, then called Silvestri into action after a swift break up-field from the resulting corner, with Matthew Lowton’s low effort held by the United stopper after being forced wide by Bamba. Luke Murphy tried his luck from distance and saw his strike sail well wide of the Burnley goal, but the visitors were struggling to get going during the early exchanges and could have conceded a second from a similar position to Arfield’s opener – this time George Boyd firing inches wide of the far post. United started to come into it as the first half progressed, though, and Heaton held Wood’s towering header from six yards out before Leeds’ joint-top goalscorer sent an effort sailing over the crossbar from distance after collecting the ball in space. Both sides took turns to see strikes blocked inside crowded penalty areas, before United enjoyed their best period of play shortly before the half-time whistle. Stuart Dallas’ deliveries from the right appeared to be their most likely source and the Burnley defence was called upon to scramble clear several times as they held firm to take their slender lead into the break.

The teams re-emerged unchanged and it was United, now attacking towards the travelling supporters, who started the second half the brighter of the two, with Wood twice being on the end of good opportunities during the early stages. The New Zealand international fired a first-time effort over on the turn after being slotted in by Lewis Cook on the edge of the Burnley area, before United’s best chance of the game so far fell to Wood on 56 minutes. Carayol’s inch-perfect cross from the left evaded Ben Mee and found the striker lurking six yards out, only for his downwards header to bounce wide of Heaton’s near post. Evans was prompted into his first change of the afternoon shortly after the hour-mark, introducing Mirco Antenucci in place of Carayol to partner Wood in attack, and the Italian forward made himself a threat within seconds of entering the field, brushing the side-netting from inside the area after latching onto Wood’s knockdown. Wood then passed up another golden opportunity to bring United on level terms, this time heading high and wide from close-range after meeting Charlie Taylor’s whipped delivery from the left. United were being frustrated by their hosts as they continued to enjoy the better of the second-half openings, but Evans’ side needed to remain alert at the back as Cooper made a crucial intervention to cut out Andre Gray’s low cross. United introduced midfield duo Tom Adeyemi and Alex Mowatt in the final 10 minutes in a bid to force a late equaliser, but it was Burnley who should have added the second goal of the game deep into stoppage time as substitute Ashley Barnes fired wide in front of an empty net after Matthew Taylor’s cutback

Tues April 5th UNITED 1 (Wood 70), QPR 1 (Chery pen 87)  United team: Peacock-Farrell, Berardi, Bellusci, Cooper, Taylor, Bridcutt, Murphy (Diagouraga 83), Cook, Dallas (Coyle 85), Carayol (Mowatt 90), Wood. Subs: Grimes, Bamba, Adeyemi, Antenucci. Referee: James Adcock Att: 17,388 (342 QPR)  

LEEDS V QPR 5/4/16

Wood (out of pic) slides in to score

The midweek visit of Queens Park Rangers saw United head coach Steve Evans make five changes from the weekend’s defeat at Rotherham, including a debut for young goalkeeper Bailey Peacock-Farrell in place of the suspended Marco Silvestri. Elsewhere, Luke Murphy, the goalscorer at the New York Stadium, returned to the starting line-up along with Liam Cooper, Stuart Dallas and Mustapha Carayol. Ahead of kick-off on a glorious spring evening at Elland Road, both sets of supporters impeccably observed a minute’s silence in memory of Christopher Loftus and Kevin Speight, 16 years to the day since the two United fans were tragically taken from us in Istanbul. It was United who started the brighter of the two sides, dominating the possession during the opening 10 minutes and having the game’s first effort on goal through Dallas, only for Alex Smithies to gather his swerving half-volley from distance. QPR looked to assert some pressure at the opposite end but Peacock-Farrell remained untested during the early exchanges as clear-cut chances remained at a premium. The visitors were dealt a blow in attack after 25 minutes, though, with Jamie Mackie forced off through injury to be replaced by Sebastian Polter. Sights of goal were proving to be scarce for both sides, although Carayol did force Smithies into a smart low save to hold his strike after a driving run towards the edge of the area. QPR were being reduced to efforts from distance as Matt Phillps and Junior Hoillet fired wide before the latter saw a low attempt held by Peacock-Farrell on the stroke of half-time, capping a largely uneventful opening 45 minutes. The two-sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and United looked to start the second half on the front foot, with Dallas seeing a strike deflected across the face of goal from a tight angle before Murphy drilled a low effort straight into the arms of Smithies after creating space on the edge of the QPR area. United’s best opening came after 57 minutes as Carayol’s never-say-die attitude saw the on-loan winger somehow keep the ball in play and tee up the arriving Dallas, who was just unable to get the desired connection as his first-time strike flashed wide. QPR then passed up a good opportunity as the substitute Polter headed wide after meeting a left-wing cross, and United were to soon make them pay as Chris Wood broke the deadlock on 70 minutes. The striker, taking his tally to nine for the season and drawing level with Mirco Antenucci as the club’s top goalscorer, was at full-stretch to force the ball beyond Alex Smithies from close-range after latching onto Murphy’s floated ball over the top of the QPR defence. On the balance of play, it was a lead which the hosts deserved, and QPR continued to be reduced to efforts from distance as Peacock-Farrell remained untroubled, clutching a low strike from Conor Washington from a wide angle. But a late penalty proved to be United’s downfall once again, as substitute Tjaronn Chery hammered home an 87th-minute spot kick to snatch a share of the spoils for the hosts after Giuseppe Bellusci was adjudged to have tripped Polter inside the area.

Sat April 2nd ROTHERHAM 2 (Frecklington 27, Halford pen 90), LEEDS 1 (Murphy 79)  Leeds team: Silvestri, Berardi (Murphy 74), Bamba, Bellusci, Taylor, Diagouraga, Bridcutt, Mowatt (Carayol 58), Cook (Dallas 58), Antenucci, Wood. Subs: Peacock-Farrell, Coyle, Cooper, Adeyemi.Referee: Kevin Friend Booked: Best (Rotherham), Bridcutt, Bellusci (Leeds) Sent off:  Derbyshire (Rotherham), Silvestri (Leeds) Att: 11,418 (2,311 Leeds)


Villain of the peace Bellusci faces the penalty after causing it

The Yorkshire derby trip to Rotherham United saw Leeds head coach Steve Evans make three changes to face his former side from the humbling defeat to Huddersfield Town a fortnight earlier. There was a first start since January for returning striker Chris Wood, who replaced the suspended Souleymane Doukara in attack, while Toumani Diagouraga and Lewis Cook were recalled to the midfield as Luke Murphy and Stuart Dallas dropped to the bench. The hosts were first to threaten in front of a capacity crowd at the New York Stadium, Lee Frecklington racing onto a loose ball before lashing wide on the half-volley from 20 yards out inside the opening two minutes, before Leeds looked to assert some early pressure as Cook’s powerful strike was blocked on the edge of the area and Mirco Antenucci curled a first-time effort over from a difficult angle. Evans’ side had started brightly and were looking the more dangerous of the two teams during the early exchanges. Alex Mowatt sent a rasping 25-yard strike flying over Lee Camp’s crossbar after seizing upon a loose pass from Kirk Broadfoot, before Camp was tested for the first time in the 19th minute as he beat away Antenucci’s low effort after Wood had teed up his strike partner on the edge of the area. Despite Leeds enjoying the better of the early opportunities, it was the hosts who managed to break the deadlock on 27 minutes as Frecklington launched himself at a deep cross from the left and turned it beyond Silvestri from inside the area on the half-volley. The visitors looked to mount a quick response but Camp was untested as Antenucci squeezed a low shot through a crowded Rotherham penalty area, before the Italian fired agonisingly wide of the far post moments later. The Millers were buoyed by their lead, though, and chased a second shortly before the half-time whistle as Broadfoot towered a header over Silvestri’s bar after rising highest to meet Greg Halford’s long throw-in. The sides re-emerged from the break unchanged and it was the hosts who were first to threaten during the early stages of the second half, with Richie Smallwood blazing over from inside the area and Leon Best sending a back-post header wide of Silvestri’s near post after meeting a free-kick from deep. At the opposite end, Wood forced Camp to tip his looping header onto the roof of the net after turning Giuseppe Bellusci’s mis-hit volley towards goal, before Evans was prompted into his first changes of the afternoon as the hour-mark approached, introducing Mustapha Carayol and Dallas in place of Mowatt and Cook. The 61st minute then brought the biggest talking point of the game so far, as Rotherham’s Matt Derbyshire was shown a straight red card for an aerial challenge on Gaetano Berardi which needed the Leeds full-back to sport a head bandage and fresh kit for the final half-hour. Leeds looked to make the numerical advantage count as Carayol’s speculative strike from range flew wide before a superb one-handed save from Camp somehow denied Antenucci’s curling, low effort from finding the bottom corner after a weaving run from the striker. Camp was the difference between Leeds forcing an equaliser and he again kept Antenucci at bay with another fine save from inside the area before Dallas was blocked on the rebound after charging onto the loose ball. Sol Bamba then towered a back-post header inches wide from Dallas’ pin-point corner as the visitors were urged forward in front of the travelling fans. An equalising goal eventually, and deservedly, came on the 79th-minute mark through final substitute Luke Murphy, who had replaced Berardi just five minutes earlier. The midfielder’s first goal of the season owed a lot to a huge deflection on his long-range strike, leaving Camp rooted to the spot as it found the net, but it was no less than justified after waves of Leeds pressure. Liam Bridcutt then saw his swerving effort from distance tipped over by Camp and Wood towered a header over from the resulting corner, before some last-minute drama at the opposite end saw the hosts snatch the three points from the penalty spot. Silvestri was dismissed for tripping Frecklington inside the area, forcing Bellusci to go in goal for the final few minutes with Leeds having used all three substitutions, but the defender’s first involvement was to pick the ball out of the net as Halford calmly slotted the penalty into the bottom corner to claim the victory.