Twice this season Leeds United have succumbed to late suckerpunches, but this weekend saw a role reversal as they delivered one of their own. A Chris Wood thunderbolt with two minutes remaining silenced the iPro stadium and was the cue for the home fans to start heading for the exits.
Historically it had been a miserable journey back up the M1 for Leeds United supporters but not on Saturday. The travelling contingent witnessed a superb away performance, and barring a fifteen minute spell at the start of the second half, they saw their side dominate a Derby team which at the start of the season was tipped for automatic promotion.
Leeds started the game brightly with Chris Wood firing just over after some wonderful progressive passing in midfield. Derby failed to register a shot on target in the whole of the first half and it was no surprise when Leeds took the lead just before half time. While the Derby players were bemoaning the award of a corner after some excellent work from Dallas, Leeds took the corner short and Dallas whipped in a delightful cross. With the Derby defence sleepwalking, Tom Adeyemi sprinted into the box unmarked and drilled his header past the helpless Carson. Rarely do you see a Derby side so poor at home, outclassed and outgunned, unable to cope with the pace and intensity of United's play.
The referee blew the half time whistle to a cacophony of boos from the home supporters, leaving Paul Clement to deliver a difficult half time team talk. Whatever he said worked.
Derby came out of the second half traps flying, leaving everyone in the ground wondering if this really was the same side that left the field fifteen minutes earlier. Almost immediately Marco Silvestri was forced into a superb diving save but Derby's pressure was unrelenting and they were level within two minutes of the restart. Chris Martin with some excellent footwork on the edge of the Leeds penalty area before drilling a low shot past the diving Silvestri.
The next fifteen minutes was a true examination of the character of this Leeds United side. Composure, concentration and pace had momentarily deserted them. Derby smelt blood and Leeds were on the rack. United did well not to end this period behind as they resisted wave upon wave of Derby pressure. Sol Bamba made a rare mistake, losing the ball on the edge of the Derby penalty area after a long run upfield and opened Leeds up to a counter attack. Jeff Hendrick broke quickly into the space behind Leeds' backline, beating the advancing Silvestri but not Liam Cooper who slid in brilliantly but controversially to block the shot, with Derby players and supporters claiming the ball had struck his arm.
Uwe Rosler, reacting to Derby's pressure, made two substitutions. Luke Murphy and Mirco Antenucci replacing Sam Byram and Alex Mowatt respectively and this would prove to be the turning point. With fresh legs Leeds started to get a foothold in the game and grew in confidence once more. Chris Wood could have won it with a header after a terrific delivery from Antenucci but fired just over. Then came the moment of brilliance which would see Leeds claim all three points. Lewis Cook passed the ball to Wood just outside the penalty area, he took a single touch, deftly moving the ball out of his feet before unleashing an exocet missile into the Derby net. Time momentarily stood still, Scott Carson rooted to the spot and could only watch on in disbelief as the ball crashed in off his left hand upright in front of a stunned iPro.
Leeds saw out the remaining minutes without incident to claim all three points in this fixture for the first time since their Premier League days way back in 2002.
United now go into the international break undefeated and high in confidence. Derby County however, are still winless and now have two weeks to lick their wounds and reflect on where it all went wrong.
Final Score: Derby County 1-2 Leeds United
Uwe gives his post-match verdict to LUTV