DONCASTER Rovers veered off the Carling Cup trail after going down to Leeds at the Keepmoat.
Rovers dominated the first 25 minutes, taking the lead, but Leeds hit back to win a cracking encounter.
Rovers had striker James Hayter back in action for the first time since being stretchered off at Brighton. His return couldn’t have been more timely in view of the fact that Chris Brown joined James Coppinger, Billy Sharp and Ryan Mason on the sidelines.
Richard Naylor, who came on as a second half sub when Leeds beat Rovers 5-2 at Elland Road in March, lined up against his former club in the heart of the Rovers’ defence. Leeds showed five changes to the side which drew at West Ham. Among the new faces was teenage midfield debutant Zac Thompson.
Rovers, who had not scored in their last three league games, all of which were lost, took just two minutes to open their account.
Giles Barnes picked out Hayter in the box in the third minute and the striker slotted the ball past keeper Paul Rachubka.
Kyle Bennett shot well wide of the far post with a 25 yarder on six minutes after running at the Leeds defence. Simon Gillett then had a long-range shot blocked for a corner.
It had been an impressive start by Rovers whose high-tempo football forced Leeds on the back foot.
It needed a fine save, at the expense of an 18th minute corner, by the United keeper to deny Bennett after he had got the better of a defender for pace.
Rovers continued to run Leeds ragged and there was a huge let-off for the visitors when Bennett got clear and beat Rachubka in a one-on-one with a curling shot from the edge of the area only to see the ball come back off the inside of the far post
Skipper Jonny Howson won Leeds a 28th minute corner with a 20 yarder which just cleared the crossbar after taking a deflection off a defender.
Leeds drew level on the half-hour, Ramon Nunez beating Woods with a superb angled shot from 20 yards.It was his fourth goal of the season and served to lift the spirits of the sell-out Leeds contingent.
John Oster, who lists Leeds as one of his former clubs, shot over with an angled 20 yarder.
Leeds striker Ross McCormack shot just wide of the near post with a 20 yarder in stoppage time. Bennett tested the United keeper with a header after getting on the end of a Mustapha Dumbuya cross in the opening minutes of the second half.
Former Leeds junior Sam Hird, who played on the right of a back-three, had claims for a penalty for hand ball rejected on 51 minutes.
Bennett shot over a couple of minutes later as Rovers continued to make the running this half.
Leeds had had a couple of 20 yard attempts this half but had all gone well wide of the right-hand post.
Rovers brought defender James O’Connor on for his first game since a close-season cartilage operation - he replaced Naylor.
United substitute Max Gradel got the better of O’Connor in the box on 70 minutes only to clear the bar with his shot. Rovers’ skipper George Friend got a timely block on a 25 yard shot by Howson four minutes later.
Mark Wilson appeared to surprise the United keeper, who could only punch the ball away for a corner, with a 30 yard shot. With the tie looking to be heading for extra-time, Nunez gave Leeds the lead with another excellent strike from a right wing cross on 82 minutes.
Bennett hit the outside of the far post with a 20 yarder on 88 minutes.
Rovers: G Woods 7 Dumbuya 7 Friend 7 Naylor *7 Spurr 7 Barnes ** 7 Gillett *** 7 Oster 7 Hird 7 Bennett 8 Hayter 7 Subs: Sullivan O’Connor *67 Wilson ** 69 Stock ***87 Radford Martis Baxendale
Leeds: Rachubka 7 Connolly 7 O’Brien ***7 O’Dea 7 White *6 Sam Thompson 7 Howson 7 Nunez 8 Keogh 6 McCormack 6 **65 Subs Lonergan Kisnorbro *** 76 Gradel **64 Clayton Snodgrass Taylor *60 Turner.
Bookings: Leeds: White, foul, 9 min. Howson, foul, 90.
Ref: M Brown (East Yorks)