. Dozy Old Lions
Leeds United 2, Millwall 1
Leeds achieved two unlikely outcomes in this scrappy match at Elland Road. Firstly, they actually contrived to win a game of football. Secondly, in doing so, they still managed to make a team as poor as Millwall look half-decent. The win is a fact, it’s in the record books. Millwall’s appearance of being any better than awful is surely deceptive.
The Londoners, cheered on by literally dozens of loyal followers, started fast and looked to live up to their manager’s claim that they’d be seeking victory in their Cup Final. Leeds, habitually nervous amid the great expectations of the home support, were harried into frantic defence and seemed set to concede yet another defeat to an undeniably inferior side.
Yet it was the Whites who took the lead after 18 minutes, Matt Smith looping a header over and beyond Lions keeper Dunne from a long throw. The goal settled United somewhat and they coped rather better with the pallid threat of the visitors for the remainder of the half – and with only four minutes left to the interval, they pounced on the toothless Lions to score again. This time it was McCormack’s finish from a tight angle which gave the half-time score a slightly flattering look at 2-0.
In the second half, Leeds were back to their bad old ways of making mediocre opposition look much better than they should. The fact that Millwall managed only one goal in a 45 minutes of forgettable football said more about the paucity of their finishing than it did about Leeds’ defending, adequate though it was. A better team – and there are many better teams than Millwall – could easily have taken United to the cleaners today. As it was, Millwall boasted the best moment of a desultory game with sublime volleyed finish after minutes.
Leeds have interrupted a desperately poor run of form and Millwall confirmed their position as likely candidates for relegation – and that about sums up this dismal spectacle. For Leeds, the three points were far more important than the performance, which is fortunate for them. For Millwall, it’s time to look out the League One road maps as they seem destined to wreak their mayhem at a more accustomed, lowly level next year. If they can muster a few more away fans, that is…
Leeds United: Butland, Byram (Wootton 90), Lees, Pearce, Pugh, Mowatt (Tonge 84), Austin, Murphy, Wickham (Hunt 86), McCormack, Smith. Subs (not used): Cairns, Warnock, Stewart, Poleon.
Millwall: Dunne, Robinson, Beevers, Lowry, Upson (Campbell 57), Garvan, Onyedinma (Jackson 59), McDonald, Woolford, Marquis (Maierhofer 57). Subs (not used): Bywater, Fredericks, Abdou, Powell.