doncaster 1 – 3 leeds: meeting every testBack
The game against Chesterfield, in the League Cup’s previous round, seems now like a last hurrah for the old guard. Dom Poleon took his goal well, but the night was memorable mostly for the way Michael Brown returned from a previous era to hammer the ball into the net one last time before returning to his paddock.
Poleon stood out once more at Doncaster on Tuesday night, but it was an even younger player, debutant Alex Mowatt, who made the game his own, and has Leeds supporters facing the future with a grin.
A couple of weeks back Mowatt scored a brilliant late free kick in a development match at Colwyn Bay, watched by Gary Speed’s parents. While Chris Dawson made his debut last season, it was often said that Mowatt was as good, if not better, and the first sight of him in a full Leeds game confirmed that after Lees, Byram, Poleon and Dawson, Leeds have another Thorp Arch graduate almost ready for prime time.
The Keepmoat Stadium may not be everyone’s definition of prime time, but Doncaster are in the same divison as us now, and were up for the match after being called off in the rain at Charlton while leading 3-1. At half time TalkSport described Mowatt as the best midfielder on the park, at Travels of a Leeds Fan Andrew Butterwick called him a “revelation,” and there have been giddy comparions to Wilshere and Gerrard; he was heavily involved in the opening goal, crossing for Mathieu Smith, whose header across goal was nodded in by Scott Wootton – the first time Leeds have scored first this season.
Wootton was another debutant, signing from, er, somewhere, and putting in a solid performance in place of Tom Lees. Wootton’s first touch in a Leeds shirt was a clearance off the line, and by adding a goal he has made it difficult for Lees to get back in on Saturday.
Lees can make a case for himself, though, by pointing out that Wootton was part of a defence that let Billy Barndoor Big Boobs Paynter score a goal. Even though he started on the bench, the least surprising moment of the night was when the Paynter Man came on and scored with his first touch. This night didn’t only belong to the young. It wasn’t only a night for Leeds, either, as Doncaster held us at 1-1 until near the end.
Mowatt’s performance was eye catching, but it was when he was replaced by Luke Murphy that Leeds really took control; Murphy set Peltier in motion down the wing, his cross reaching the head of Smith, somewhere in the stratosphere, who scored his first goal for Leeds. After that it only remained for Dom Poleon to finally win one of the decisions that should have gone his way against Sheffield Wednesday and for Ross McCormack to score the penalty. “‘That’s how you win 3-1’ the Leeds fans taunted Doncaster after their abandoned match on Saturday,” wrote Andrew Butterwick. You could almost have hoped for the ref to call ours off too; with eighty minutes gone, the result would have stood.
The second round of the League Cup might not seem like the venue for big results, but there’s no denying that every Leeds fan woke up feeling good – and slightly unreal – this morning. That’s six played now, with four wins and two draws; all bar the Chesterfield game played against Championship opposition. It can’t be ignored, either, that we’ve won twice on Tuesday nights, that hoodoo finally fading away (unless those five words just brought it back).
Smith, the unproven striker with, not to be unkind, a touch of the Paynters about him – he’s got a good reputation, but from a division below – now has two assists and a first goal. Woottttttton has too many Ts in his name and doubtful progeny, but his first game has removed any doubt that he’s an improvement to the squad. Dom Poleon is troubling defences, and when he gets the rewards for his efforts, we get the reward of a penalty. Luke Murphy is settling in to midfield, and showed the wherewithal to come on last night and take a game by the scruff. And Alex Mowatt will presumably be the source of several back-slaps and handshakes among the staff at Thorp Arch this morning, as they can look back on a job well done, and then get on with making him even better: “Trust me #lufc fans,” said former academy player Sanchez Payne on Twitter, “If he didn’t meg 5 people in the game then you ain’t seen nothing yet.”
Even the least arrogant Leeds fan (or the most humble, if there is one) must admit we expected to beat Doncaster: that’s just the natural order of things in Yorkshire. Few of us can have expected it to have been such a confidence booster, though. QPR are next at Elland Road, also unbeaten until they went out of the cup to Swindon last night; they fielded marginally fewer millionaires than usual, however, and Leeds will probably have to endure underdog status on Saturday lunchtime. So be it. We’re meeting every test at the moment, and there’s no sign it’s going to stop.
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