So, three years after Brian Stock’s free-kick gave them a memorable win at Elland Road en route to promotion from League One, Doncaster returned to Leeds. The hosts are currently motoring towards a Championship play-off place in a sea of goals and neither that prgress nor the entertainment would cease as a result of this fixture.
Leeds attacked from the start and duly had the game’s first chance; the lively Max Gradel forced Gary Woods into a save and Jonny Howson following in put he ball over the bar. But for a Paul Keegan header wich met a similar fate to Howson’s effort it was all the home side in the game’s opening minutes and so their 12th minute lead was far from a surprise as Gradel took advantage of a Sam Hid slip to get into the area and fire past Woods.
United were in no mood to sit on their lead and continued to take the game to Rovers. Neil Kilkenny was next to threaten shooting at Woods after neat link up play with Robert Snodgrass, whilst Luciano Becchio put a shot just wide as well. Gradel and Howson too caused Rovers problems as the visitors struggled to force a genuine clear chance on goal.
It had been all Leeds thus far, but just before the break, and just as they had at Derby in the week Rovers found a goal though the opportunism and the persistence of Billy Sharp. John Oster lofted a pass perfectly into the striker’s feet and he advanced in on goal; Kasper Schmeichel saved the striker’s first effort, but Sharp followed up to squeeze the ball home from the tightest of angles. It wasn’t deserved, but then that wasn’t going to bother the travelling supporters.
Incredibly at the start of tthe second half things would get even better for Rovers as they took an unlikely lead. Dean Shiels carrying the ball forward before feeding Franck Moussa and he slotted it beneath Schmeichel to make it 2-1. Sadly the lead would prove decidedly more joyous than it was lengthy, as withing a minute United were level. Howson won the ball in midfield before hitting a low drive which beat Woods.
Leeds were never likely to settle for being level and Woods was in action again soon after, coming off his line well to block from Gradel before collecting a Kilkenny effort. As time wore on you got the feeling Rovers would need to score again if they were to get anything from the game and that foreboding sensation was justified with fifteen minutes to go. Rovers struggled to clear their lines and Becchio pounced, tucking the ball away to put Leeds 3-2 ahead.
A goal behind O’Driscoll went for broke and threw on the attacking James Hayter for Keegan and it almost paid dividends as Rovers pushed forward. The attack ending with a Joseph Mills free-kick which flew just over the bar. Leeds, and Gradel in particular, were in no mood to sit back either as they broke forward and the winger brought another fine save from Woods.
With eight minutes to go Gradel finally did beat Woods to put the game beyond Rovers. Gradel combined with Snodgrass to give the latter a sight of goal. His strike was saved by Woods, but Gradel was on hand to turn in the rebound. Jamie Coppinger did have a chance at goal himself in the final five minutes, but it would be Leeds who wrapped up the match with the game’s seventh goal. Howson released on the break firing past Woods to get his second goal on the stroke of full-time.
Leeds United (4-5-1); Kasper Schmeichel; Eric Lichaj, Leigh Bromby, Andrew O’Brien (Richard Naylor), George McCartney; Robert Snodgrass, Bradley Johnson, Neil Kilkenny, Jonny Howson, Max Gradel (Sanchez Watt); Luciano Becchio (Billy Paynter)
subs not used: Shane Higgs, Alex Bruce, Davide Somma, Ross McCormack
Doncaster Rovers (4-3-2-1); Gary Woods; Sam Hird, Wayne Thomas, George Friend, Joseph Mills; Brian Stock (Mark Wilson), Paul Keegan (James Hayter), John Oster; Dean Shiels (Jamie Coppinger), Franck Moussa; Billy Sharp
subs not used: Ben Alnwick, Dennis Souza, Matt Kilgallon, Simon Gillet
booked: Paul Keegan