I mean, I'm speechless still, hours after that game ended. Here goes. Leeds United went into Rotherham United's New York Stadium on Saturday poised to rebound from a humiliating defeat at Elland Road before the international break. The two weeks off had seen Lewis Cook put in some good work for the England U-19's, others get needed rest, and a game against the 20th place Millers seemed like a good chance to right the ship on the way to the top ten, Steve Evans' occasional goal for this squad.
Instead, I mean, this happened....
If that 30 seconds of god-awful slo-mo doesn't sum up Leeds United's season, I don't know what does.
To back off the hyperbole a bit, Leeds should've won this game. Rotherham had been hot of late, granted, winning four of five, but the Whites came at goalkeeper Lee Camp plenty of times and really should've found the back of the net more than once. Instead, the game ended 2-1 for Rotherham, and three points went the home side's way. Here's how it happened.
After some intense back and forth in the first ten minutes, with shots from the returned Chris Wood, Mirco Antenucci, and Alex Mowatt all finding Lee Camp, the game settled down a bit. Rotherham put together a few chances, mainly through Leon Best and Lee Frecklington, but it wasn't until the 27th minute that things got ugly for the Whites in yellow. Charlie Taylor took a shot straight to the "crown jewels," and less than a minute later, after no whistle was given, couldn't stop a Rotherham cross into the box. That cross found the foot of Frecklington who put it past a helpless Marco Silvestri, and the Millers were up 1-0.
Leeds never looked head and shoulders above Rotherham, don't get me wrong, but they did look the better side. Antenucci and Diagouraga had shots before the first half ended that could've gone in on a luckier day, but Leeds entered the half down 1-0.
Evans mysteriously didn't make any substitutions at the break; as he explained in the post-game presser, he thought if they kept playing as they were, they'd win, and he told the lads such. That said, after Rotherham looked the better side in the first 15 minutes of the second half, the tactical genius subbed off Alex Mowatt and Lewis Cook for Mustapha Carayol and Stuart Dallas. I mean... what?
Two minutes later, Rotherham's Matt Derbyshire elbowed Gaetano Berardi in the face and got a red card, so clearly the subs worked? I don't know. Here's a heroic photo of the aftermath:
Now up a man, Leeds United had the upper hand and pressed it. Luke Murphy came on for the bloodied Berardi in the 74th minute, and in the 79th, left alone well outside the top of the box, Murphy took his shot. Deflected, it found its way past Lee Camp, and Murphy's first of the season brought Leeds level at 1-1. Tactical genius indeed, that Steve Evans.
Until of course Giuseppe Bellusci happened. Having a nightmare of a game, Bellusci looked lost far too often on defense, and his one free kick was predictably well over the bar, as he continues to try to recreate some magic from that game against Bournemouth long, long ago. By the 89th minute, Leeds were pressing for the winning goal, with chance after chance, and then suddenly were caught on a counter.
Berardi's coming off for Murphy left a three-man back line, and when Bamba and Taylor couldn't deal with a streaking Rotherham's Danny Ward, he lofted a pass to Frecklington. Bellusci, instead of heading the ball away like a professional footballer/sane human being might do, decided to try to bicycle kick the clearance. He missed, predictably, and Frecklington was left alone on net with Silvestri, who pulled him down and earned himself a red card. Out of subs, the team laughably put Bellusci in goal for the penalty kick, which he of course conceded, and Rotherham won the game 2-1.
FT: 2-1 Rotherham. Leeds pressing for three points, we leave w/ zero. Bellusci gives the game away. Burn everything. pic.twitter.com/uLFvmxAr4L— Through It All LIVE (@ThruItAllLIVE) April 2, 2016
Let all of that sink in. Or don't, we have QPR on Tuesday.
I lean towards don't. We've said it all season: the defense is as error-prone as it gets, and the squad really just isn't good enough. Bellusci, Bamba, Cooper... whoever we've thrown in at CB has at least one or two goal-costing errors per game, and it's just not high enough quality for a side that wants to win games consistently. Bottom line.
So Bellusci gave this game away, a game in which we had a man advantage for the final 20 minutes and were pressing to take three points, and that's that. Moving on to Tuesday, we sit in 14th place now after 38 played, with Queens Park Rangers in 11th after 39. Fairly even match according to the table, we'll have more of a preview coming Monday. Vote in the poll, leave some comments, move on with your Sunday, come back again Tuesday. #MOT.