Leeds team vs Rotherham 17th October 2014
LB Warnock DC Pearce DC Bellusci RB Berardi
CM Cook CM Mowatt
ST Antenucci ST Doukara
Subs S Taylor, Cooper, Byram, Sloth, Sharp, Morison, Adryan
A proverbial games of two halves and a smash and grab to get the points. The industry and neatness of Leeds’ first half performance, their dominance of possession was undone by a weak and ineffective second 45 minutes. Leeds began brightly, stringing together a succession of passes and starving Rotherham of the ball. Such was Leeds’ dominance during the opening phases of play that, after 15 minutes of play, they’d had 67% possession and Rotherham were feeding from scraps. Leeds had more of the ball and deservedly went in front in the 29th minute thanks to Mirco Antenucci’s 3rd goal of the campaign. The hardworking Souleymane Doukara collected the ball from midfield and played a delightful through ball beyond the Rotherham back four for Mirco Antenucci to run onto. Looking to play for offside, the Rotherham defenders were caught flat-footed and Antenucci cut a right-footed shot across Rotherham goalkeeper Adam Collin and it nestled into the bottom right corner of Collins’ goal. This sparked Rotherham into action and between the 30th and 40th minutes 49% of the play was in Leeds’ third of the field. A surging Antenucci run to the byeline in the 44th minute and subsequent cutback led to Doukara attempting an audacious, if mistimed overhead kick. This ended the first half with a 1-0 lead for Leeds.
Rotherham must have had a proper roasting at half time because they came out fired up and intent on creating Leeds problems. In the opening 5 minutes of the second half Rotherham harried and chased every ball and, when in possession, asked questions of Leeds’ players. During these opening 5 minutes, 66% of the action was in the Leeds final third of the field. The pressure Rotherham were applying soon told and, after a parried save by Leeds’ goalkeeper Marco Silvestri, they scored a 57th minute equaliser thanks to Alex Revell’s follow up tap in. Leeds’ efforts hadn’t as much gone ‘off the boil’ as had simply gone tepid and lukewarm. They hung off Rotherham whenever they had the ball and allowed them both time and space to dictate play. The 62nd minute gave Leeds’ travelling fans what they had been waiting 12 games for in that Milanič brought Brazilian playmaker Adryan into the fray for his full Championship debut. Rotherham also made a substitution at the same time, bringing on their record signing Jonson Clarke-Harris, a prescient introduction as 3 minutes later he hit a thunderous shot that moved about as it zipped through the air and plopped itself in the bottom right of Marco Silvestri’s goal. Adryan showed in 28 minutes just what Leeds fans had been salivating over: he was fleet of foot and dribbled the ball both into and out of challenges – his 3 dribbles (all successfully completed) resulted in Adryan having 3 shots, one on target. He was also 100% successful in his passing (89% being forward of his position when receiving the ball) and one pass to Mirco Antenucci, in the 83rd minute, resulted in a stinging shot from the latter that was palmed onto the post by Rotherham ‘keeper Collin. This represented the last meaningful action of the game and Leeds United must strike down another in the ‘dragging defeat from the jaws of victory’ column.
Marco Silvestri again kept Leeds in a game where they experienced a torrid second half. When called upon, he was solid in his duties with 7 saves being made against the 2 goals scored (a SPG rating of 3.50) and his distribution accuracy was good at 61% (3 accurate goal kicks, 7 accurate throws and 12 accurate kicks from hand/clearances). Silvestri also showed good hands in claiming 1 catch (100% claim rate) and 3 punches. He was slightly to blame for the first goal after ‘palming out’ a shot into the path of Alex Revell who scored Rotherham’s first goal. However, no fault can be attributed to the second goal scored by Jonson Clark-Harris which was another great strike that moved through the air and deceived Marco Silvestri.
In short, it wasn’t the most accomplished of displays by the Leeds back four, especially in the second half where they stood off Rotherham too much and granted them time on the ball. Gaetano Berardi reverted to his more natural right back position as opposed to the left back position he played against Sheffield Wednesday. He had a tidy if unspectacular game with most of his returns for the game coming in negatively under his per 90 metric for the season; the one positive being he lost only 1 tackle in the game as opposed to his per 90 lost tackles of 3.33. Jason Pearce was the busiest of the Leeds United defensive unit with 15 clearances (vs. 7.33 per 90) whilst the returning Stephen Warnock showed why Leeds were lacking his consistency with above per 90 returns in ‘blocks’ (2 vs. per 90 return of 0.42) and ‘clearances’ (11 vs per 90 return of 5.30). Giuseppe Bellusci didn’t have the best of games with all his game returns being negatives when compared to his per 90 metrics for the season.
Solid and spectacular, at times, in the opening 45 minutes and abjectly woeful, at times, in the closing 45 minutes basically sums up the performance of the Leeds United midfield in Friday’s game. At the half, Leeds’ midfield was in total control, starving Rotherham of possession (61% – 39%) and allowing the strikers to feed from some quality ball. The story of the second half was different, very different and not in a ‘good different’ way either. Whilst Leeds’ possession remained high (68% – 32%), the activity wasn’t really of much worth. Alex Mowatt stood out as the best of a mediocre bunch tonight with his 4 ‘chances’ (vs. a per 90 of 2.38), 5 dribbles and his combined total of 55 passes (slightly above his per 90 return of 50.12) being in contrast to the ‘middling’ displays from his fellow starting midfield players. Saying that, 17 year old England Youth international Lewis Cook (who played for Leeds’ U18 when only 13) was also not afraid to take on the opposition with him also undertaking 5 dribbles. This game also marked the much-anticipated, long-awaited debut of Leeds’ highly-rated Brazilian youngster Adryan.
What Leeds had been waiting for, Darko Milanič duly delivered on 62 minutes with the introduction of Adryan Oliveira Tavares to Championship football. What was obvious from the start was that his quick feet and close ball control will undoubtedly get him out of trouble in the Championship. He also wasn’t fazed by having to run at defenders with his total of 3 dribbles resulting in 3 shots, 1 on target. He was also 100% successful with his 9 passes and had a Pass FBR of 0.89 meaning that he favoured passing forwards of his starting position 89% of the time. All-in-all, it was an encouraging 28 minutes and gave Leeds fans something to look forward to in future games.
Leeds’ movement over the first 45 minutes was a joy to behold at times with both Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci being full of running. A through ball from Doukara to Antenucci on 30 minutes led to the latter drifting wide to the right before steering a right-footed shot across the keeper to the bottom right of the goal. That really was the highlight of the Leeds performance upfront – the rest being rather lacklustre in its nature.
It wasn’t exactly a Friday night to remember – it wasn’t good being a Leeds United fan.