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Leeds United at Rotherham: Three things we learned from a shaky but important win

It was another win for Garry Monk's men in the teatime kick-off at Rotherham on Saturday. Let's have a look at three main talking points we can take away from the game.

Was Bartley to blame for the Rotherham goal? There’s still work to be done at Leeds United.
Was Bartley to blame for the Rotherham goal? There’s still work to be done at Leeds United.
Sam Bagnall/Getty Images

It was another important three points for Leeds United on Saturday evening in Rotherham. Reading, Birmingham and Sheffield Wednesday had already done their bit in the 3pm kick-offs, so it was over to Chris Wood and company to fire the Whites up to fifth in the table.

Mission accomplished.

But as James mentioned in that recap, it wasn’t the dominating display we might have hoped for. The three points are in the bag, business settled, but let’s look at three talking points that came out of the match.

Talking point 1: Leeds lack a ruthless edge

Rotherham are rock-bottom of the Championship table. On paper, anything less than three points for Leeds would have been a poor result.

Prior to Leeds' visit, Rotherham had conceded a whopping 41 goals in 17 games. With the form of Wood and the rest of the attacking elements of the squad, United should have been aiming to add as many to that as possible.

Having been a goal and a man up, another goal should have come much quicker than it did. Luckily, Souleymane Doukara's strike right on half-time made likely made for a more relaxed team-talk at the break from Monk.

Still, Leeds should have come flying out of the blocks in the second period, looking to really kill the game off and chalk up a few more in the 'Goals For' column.

Despite Leeds being seemingly in control of the game with 75% of the possession, they only threatened the Rotherham goal with three shots on target; the same number as the side with one less man.

Rotherham shouldn't have had a look in, and in theory, their game plan should probably have reverted to an aspect of damage limitation.

A man and two-nil down, even they surely thought that their chances to get anything out of the game were over...?

Leeds were not ruthless and clinical enough by any means, and while a win is a win, there was absolutely no need for them to have been hanging on to barely win at the end. The game should have been put to bed a long, long time before second-half added time.

Monk was clearly not a happy man in the post-game presser, and rightly so. Leeds were actually lucky to escape the New York with a win.

A full quota of players and a better team will punish the Whites in future.

Talking point 2: Leeds still unable to clear their lines

Most of the goals Leeds have conceded this season haven't been from great build-up play or shots from outside the box.

Instead, they stem from the inability of the defence to get the ball away from danger. Rotherham's goal should never have happened.

There were three chances to get the ball away following the corner that led to the Millers' goal. Arguably the guilty party was Kyle Bartley, whose poor attempt to head the ball away (when he had enough time to let it drop and put his foot through it instead) resulted in conceding a very, very soft goal.

Dealing with corners and crosses are the primary chink in the Leeds' defensive armour. Too many weak headers, too many weak clearances are coming back to haunt the Whites. That needs to stop.

Again, in the dying embers of the game, it was a corner that caused absolute mayhem in the penalty area. If it wasn't for a glaring miss when the ball broke free, Leeds would have been leaving with only a point. You could argue they would've deserved it, too, for not putting the game to bed at the other end.

Talking point 3: Rob Green still not entirely convincing

Now, I'm not about to get on the "bring Silvestri back" bandwagon. I do believe that Green is Leeds' best option in goal at the moment.

There have, of course, been many a time where Green has kept Leeds in games and preserved points - but there have also been some questionable moments.

We all know about the howler against Newcastle last weekend, and there were one or two moments that stood out yesterday, too.

Although Peter Odemwingie was miles offside when his early shot found the net, Green will be counting his lucky stars that the flag went up.

It was a clean, crisp strike from the forward, but having seen the replay the ball had gone under Green's body. The fact that it was ruled out has probably saved him from another barrage of questions and more unwanted attention.

It's not just the odd shot or two that isn't dealt with that solely concerns me; more the appearance of lack of control and command of his area.

I don't know if the absence of Pontus Jansson yesterday unsettled things back there, but to me Green seems as though he struggles to really take charge of his 18-yard rectangle.

We all know how much of a boost defenders get when they have a goalkeeper behind them that they fully trust; I feel as though Green may be slowly losing that.

Conclusions

Those three talking points were all negative, but the team got the three points that mattered. Will they be able to say that against a better side? Not if they perform as they did Saturday. Leeds United must improve in all three areas if the club stand a chance at promotion in 2017. Let’s hope they do.