Match Report: Doncaster Rovers 0 Leeds 3

Doncaster Rovers vs Leeds United - Richie Wellens lets fly
Doncaster Rovers vs Leeds United - Richie Wellens lets fly
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Nobody said this was going to be an easy season.

Saturday afternoon proved that as Rovers tried in vain to get back into their Championship match with Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, only to be on the wrong end of what looked like a comfortable 3-0 win.

But it was not as easy as the scoreline suggests.

Although Leeds were good value for their first goal - a sublime Matt Smith header from a pinpoint Alex Mowatt free-kick - Doncaster were always in the tie and had their chances.

One particular effort should have at least tested the goalkeeper, and that was from Theo Robinson in the first half.

It was in the 43rd minute and Richie Wellens - who had pulled the strings for Doncaster all afternoon - played in a stunning ball into the Jamaican striker’s path. He controlled it beautifully, almost Gazza-like in Euro ‘96 against Scotland, but whereas the England midfielder composed himself and laced the effort past Andy Goram for one of the most iconic goals in history, Robinson uncontrollably lashed at the chance firing it into Row Z without Paddy Kenny moving a muscle in the United goal.

Those are the chances Doncaster need to be taking if they are to remain in this league.

You can’t fault their effort. For large periods of particularly the second half, they had Leeds on the ropes. But again they were made to pay for their finishing as United proved devastating on the counter attack.

It wasn’t a pretty game by anyone’s standards but the chances were there.

Wellens was fantastic all game, he complemented Martin Woods - starting his first game since his Rovers return - in the middle of the park with ease. He could have also levelled proceedings in the 51st minute.

It came when the midfielder was down the left flank, he somehow got inbetween a stoic Leeds defence, shifted the ball onto his right foot and curled an effort into the far-post - the chance went agonisingly wide, much to the dismay of the home support.

Moments later he drilled a ball from the edge of the area into the throat of Kenny as Leeds, at that point, struggled to get out of their own half.

Then came the moment every Rovers fan will be talking about. It was a decision which ‘baffled manager Paul Dickov.

It happened in the 66th minute. Robinson was played in once more and this time he made no mistake - slotting the ball underneath the despairing Kenny.

As Doncaster went off celebrating, what would have been 1-1 at the Keepmoat Stadium, they turned to look towards the linesman who had his flag up - albeit a very, very late one.

Those are key moments that can ultimately define your season. Dickov is adamant, having watched the replays, that Lee Peltier played Robinson onside but the official begged to differ and Premier League referee Phil Dowd was at the centre of a controversial decision which seemed to determine the result rather than the football itself.

Had the goal have been given, it would have been a very different game and both Leeds and Rovers know that.

But had Doncaster also have taken their chances, the Championship table could have made for better reading rather than the position Rovers currently sit - three points above the relegation zone.

Ultimately Leeds showed Doncaster how to win when not playing to their full potential as the impressive Ross McCormack slotted in his 11th in seven games before setting up Rodolph Austin for a superb United third to condemn Rovers to their tenth defeat of the season.

There’s no need to panic just yet though.

There’s still plenty of time to turn the league table on its head and the next three fixtures over the festive period are critical for Doncaster.

They’re coming up against the almighty challenge of Derby next - a side who have won their last six successive Championship matches and are gunning for promotion.

But whilst this should not be a precedent, Rovers should take heart from the huge scalps they have taken from the league’s ‘big sides’, particularly Leicester City and QPR.

After Derby comes Ipswich and Millwall before January hits. Both are sides Doncaster have what it takes to beat - if they can just make their chances count.