Despite The Sun’s best attempts to cause more Leeds United controversy by publishing details of Simon Grayson’s personal life, The Whites rallied on with a convincing 3-0 victory away at Doncaster Rovers.

Leeds United had a clear-cut penalty decision turned down as Ross McCormack was bundled down with a tackle from behind in the box before Danny Pugh opened the scoring on 20 minutes, unmarked from a Robert Snodgrass freekick.

The first half was otherwise uneventful. England keeper Chris Kirkland, recently acquired by new Doncaster Rovers boss Dean Saunders, made his first save from a long-range Ross McCormack freekick whilst the best the home side could muster was a header that sailed wide of Andy Lonergan’s post.

Kirkland’s first game for Donny went from bad to worse early in the second half when Andy Keogh found Ross McCormack in the box, who teed himself up for an audacious overhead kick which you’ll no doubt see again on the Football League’s Goal Of The Month compilation. 0-2

13 minutes later and Tom Lees, who had been infallible at the back, proved he was just as effective up top, rising higher than all of Donny’s defence to power home from another Leeds United dead ball situation – this time a corner – and secure the three points with a third of the match still remaining. 0-3

Andy Keogh will feel he should have added a fourth after sneaking in behind Donny’s poor defence only to see his one-on-one effort come back off the crossbar.

Nevertheless, this was a convincing win for The Whites. There’s no escaping the fact Doncaster Rovers defence was a ramshackled mess, and they had little presence going forwards, but this was a team undefeated under new manager Dean Saunders and the result was as much a reflection of Leeds’ dominance as it was Donny’s poor showing.

Up front, Ross McCormack and Andy Keogh have developed such a strong partnership I’m struggling to see how Luciano Becchio can get his first team spot back – which, let’s face it, was an unthinkable scenario at the beginning of the season.

In midfield, Robert Snodgrass seems to have regained his form now, Danny Pugh’s experience has added some much needed balance defensively allowing Aidy White the occasional stroll forwards and the central pairing of Howson and Clayton were dominant throughout.

That leaves the defence, who have now recorded back-to-back clean sheets for the first time in a year. Donny never caused us too many problems in all honesty, but that was partly because we dealt with them early. Donny were allowed little time or space on the ball, and when they did get chances to shoot, they were forced to do so from more difficult positions.

It’s all down to organisation and awareness. We didn’t leave ourselves vulnerable to counterattacks, we showed our dominance in the air and we made Andy Lonergan’s life easier by only allowing the opposition to shoot from difficult positions – when you can’t stop the threat, you contain it basically (or force it wide). It all made for much more comfortable viewing than we’ve become accustomed to.

You have to give a massive thumbs up to Simon Grayson, the coaching staff and the players for identifying their biggest weakness and working hard to fix the problem. It’s taken a little (OK, a lot..) longer than we’d have liked but solid defences are built on stability, and we’ve struggled to find that for one reason or another – the key now is keeping this version together, injury-free and in form.

Back to back clean sheets, 13 points from the last 15 and a struggling Coventry City side at home next. What were we stressing about again? On and on…

  • andrewg

    good write up we should take all 3 points at home

  • derbyshirewhite

    Really thought we’d miss Max but not anymore. Pugh is a much better pairing for Aidy White. And ‘scores more than Berbatov, but can’t get into our starting eleven’ doesn’t really rhyme does it?

  • Mersey Whites

    As always you have tried to be objective, in your report
    I am sure there was a reason, but you really need to be more timely in your posting , and while this may seem as a complaint, take as a complement …. 
    As TSS is  the only website that I enjoy visiting for all news LEEDS..

    Keep up the great work, 

  • oldschoolbaby

    Well.

    I wasn`t for Connolly`s return to the team
    I wasn`t sure O`Dea could step up to the plate
    And I wasn`t for moving Lees to central defence whilst the crisis in confidence was in full swing

    A side order of humble pie for me

    If Lees can fulfil his defensive potential and be a CB who contributes 6 – 8 goals a season we`re on to a winner

    • Anonymous

      well you can have some bragging pate from me as a starter because i shouted for Connolly from day 1 and odea and lees in centre only thing about this exact side i picked when Pugh joined  would be to shift him and white round this is a well balanced side with players playing where they should be .

      • oldschoolbaby

        Having never possessed any pace it is difficult for me to do an assessment but I get the impression White is that quick he surprises himself.  Catching an opponent quicker than he anticipated seems to leave him a bit vulnerable to being a touch rash

        Whatever, pace like that is an invaluable asset and I don`t see any real reason why it should not be deployed from the LB position.  It offers a number of significant benefits.  For me, White is making appreciable improvement and I can envisage him getting better and better 

    • Matthew

      >And I wasn`t for moving Lees to central defence

      Lol I guess you don’t realise thats his best position and Grayson up until the day he was moved to said position was playing Lees out of position.

      • oldschoolbaby

        There`s nothing smart about extracting half a sentence as there is a certain inevitability to you losing the greater context.

        I`m very well aware it`s his preferred position.  Whether it`s his best position is a judgement call.  Time will tell.  Whilst he has obvious CB attributes he does lack height.  The height he conceded to Parkin last Friday meant that often the defence were doubling up on him which can only have one logical consequence.  A bit more space for a member of the opposition elsewhere on the park.  Not an insurmountable problem but a concern.

        As I had, possibly misguided, reservations about Connolly in my book there was an obvious vacancy at RB which I thought Mr Lees was filling with a degree of aplomb.  If you play “out of position” to such good effect then, I would have thought an argument that you have become “in postion”, if even by default, to be quite legitimate.  That, however, was not my point.  I was simply revealing my, again misguided, concerns that a premature move to CB may have had a detrimental impact on his confidence.  Given his very promising start we will, no doubt, get to see how he performs against the stronger Championship sides.

        Hope that`s clear

        • Matthew

          >There`s nothing smart about extracting half a sentence as there is a certain inevitability to you losing the greater context.

          Sorry but what’s your point exactly? You made single lined sentences about your thoughts on each player, and I simply quoted one of the comments you made and gave an opinion, it’s not an issue about being smart or trying to make you look stupid(I wasn’t) I was just commenting on your opinion of Lees and his playing positions.

          Speaking of which being placed back in his prefered position has had no effect on his confidence at all, he recently signed a new contract and is getting first team football every week, which is what he wanted. If anything he seems to be our future CB, at least for the next few years, I can’t see him being dropped.

          Slightly offtopic, depending on what happens with O’Dea I can honestly see Lichaj coming back, I see him as our missing link in the defense and is a much better playing than O’Dea and has godly throwing skills.

          So yeah, I don’t think we’ve seen the last of Lichaj in a loan shirt, if he’s fit and well by January I can see Grayson sniffing around Villa for him.

          • Matthew

            *is a much better player than O’Dea

            Needs an edit button lol

          • oldschoolbaby

            You seem to be the guardian of some type of centrifugal force inducing mindless cyclical argument.

            Two clean sheets would be a, rather clear, indication that the move to CB has not had a detrimental effect on his confidence.  My original comment was merely an admission that I was worried that a move to CB might knock his confidence.  Self evidently, I was wrong.  Regardless, that was my point.

            Your point, questioning my knowledge of whether I was aware of his preferred position was petty and condescending.  C +, try a bit harder

            We can agree on the merits of Lichaj.  His potential return, I would suggest, will have more to do with what`s happening at Villa rather than what`s happening at Leeds.

          • Matthew

            You seem to get more offended and are jumping to conclusions with every comment I aim at you, thus I’m not going to continue this discussion further, honestly it’s more because you’re seeing too much into things like you want me to insult you or something.

          • oldschoolbaby

            Matthew,

            You are more than welcome to your opinion and more than welcome to an opinion contrarary to mine.  You are more than welcome to support your opinion with facts.

            What I don`t welcome is speculation  that my opinion, even when I concede it was wrong, is founded on a deficient knowledge base ( the only conclusion jumped to in this disagreement )

            MOT

          • Matthew

            I’m not going to argue with you, your attitude is just poor, especially your comment aimed at TSS.

            For the record, I’ve done nothing but discuss your points in a respectful enough manner, nowhere have I directly said you were wrong, I just gave my opinion on your opinion and nothing more.

        • Djdezzid

          Eh ?????

        • TSS

          He’s over 6ft mate, hardly a midget. 

          • oldschoolbaby

            Bloody hell, I naively believed it was the job of the remainder of the Football League to produce football fans to irritate me.

            Cannavaro captained Italy to the World Cup. Puyol`s CV ishardly shabby.  A midget discussion would be more than a little futile.

            My point was about confidence and I`ve admitted that, as yet, it was ill founded.  Yes,my personal preference would be for a CB a bit taller than Lees and there are other issues such as playing at CB might limit his opportunities to put in the crosses he is very capable of. 

            But these are merely concerns.  I have no fundamental objection to Lees playing at CB at all.  If it means the clean sheets wehave craved you can play a police horse at CB

            If I`d have known a simple comment about confidence, and a comment admitting I was wrong to boot, could energise the site`s pedants I wouldn`t have bothered making it 

  • Anonymous

    how good for the team has ANDY KEOGH been and also how unlucky was he Friday it was easier for him to score than hit the crossbar (not a criticism)  his energy and running for the whole 90+mins are massive for leeds
    my player of the season so far its not all about goals ,Clayton ,lonegan and mccormack are  a  close second equally

    • Matthew

      A plus for Keogh is that he isnt a selfish player, he doesnt just blast the ball at the goal when he gets the ball, he actually thinks of his team mates and passes around and sets people up to score.

    • irving08

      Agree. Keogh must be a dream to partner (sic!) and very easy on the eye. Let’s hope we can afford to sign him in January (his contract is up in June). With him up front I see no reason why we can’t at least make the play-offs. There is no-one else with his qualities on our books, and probably not in this division either. Thank goodness Mick is playing with just one striker. 

      • Matthew

        I agree, lets just hope we don’t see another Barry Bannan situation where a player comes here, does reasonably well and their host club plays them more in their first team instead of sending out on loan again.

        I think honestly with the games he will get this season we have nothing to worry about in regards to Keogh, he’l sign, his career at Wolves is pretty much done.

  • Tim Campbell

    A much changed team from last season – yet in my opinion, a better all round unit. A no frills but solid approach this time round…still slightly concerned that jonny has’nt signed a new contract

  • irving08

    Had Simon been given more money to spend on players in the summer, he would have been under pressure to play these players rather than make best use of those already on his books, as he is forced to do now, and may well not have bagged his two excellent loan signings.   

  • irving08

    oops omitted the ‘is’….

  • Ron Galea

    Very solid and well done SG for tweaking the side to find a balanced approach. I was openly calling for his head earlier this year after a long stretch of very poor defending. I stand corrected and hope he continues to make me feel silly. I would love to see one or two defensive signings in January to give us a little more depth in case of injuries. Our bench going forward looks very good and Nunez isn’t even on there yet. It’s a long campaign and I’m sure Nunez and the Finns will get their chance.

  • MattBB1

    oh f*ck.

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