Alex Bruce

Alex Bruce was impressive throughout

Leeds played out an entertaining scoreless draw against Doncaster at the Keepmoat. There were five changes to Simon Grayson’s Leeds side from the one that suffered a 5-2 defeat to Barnsley on Tuesday. Paul Connolly, Richard Naylor and Fede Bessone were all left out and in came Andy Hughes, Alex Bruce and Aidy White in an attempt to improve the defence. Simon Grayson also handed starts to Davide Somma and Ross McCormack while Luciano Becchio dropped to the bench alongside Robert Snodgrass and new signing Amdy Faye.

It was Doncaster who started better in the opening minutes with Billy Sharp gifted an opportunity with the Leeds back four totally out of position. Doncaster had three early corners but the pressure was soaked up by Leeds who then created a counter attacking opportunity but White delayed on making a pass and his final ball to Somma was poor.

Leeds started to get a grip on the game and our most promising play was coming through Max Gradel on the right hand side who had his man beaten on several occasions and stung the hands of ex-Leeds ‘keeper Neil Sullivan to win a corner. Somma was looking good and despite being caught offside on a few occasions, primarily because of Doncaster’s high defensive line which was making it hard for Leeds to link between midfield and attack, his movement and hold up play was excellent. Somma had two of the best chances in the half, one fierce strike which Sullivan got fingertips to turn the ball onto the bar and another when he was through on goal but shot straight at the ‘keeper when he should have done better.

If I was to make a personal observation it would be that a lot of our promising play was coming through Somma but he was being forced to win headers and lay off the ball in a crowded midfield and then receive the ball again with McCormack unable to really get a grasp on the game. Though there are those that would disagree with me I think we would have been more dangerous with the burden of hold up play being put on Becchio and Somma feeding off him.

Doncaster also went close when Dean Shiels hit a curling shot which hit the outside of the post. Play started to be broken up as Doncaster won a lot of free-kicks, some dubious, some fair. Bradley Johnson in particular looked to be walking a tightrope after he was cautioned for a late tackle. The free-kicks were inviting pressure on Leeds as the half neared its close but Leeds were equal to it with Alex Bruce playing a calm and composed influence on the defence.

The most surreal part of the first half may have been noticed by fans watching on Sky Sports when the cameras showed a Juventus scout in the ground. There’s no news yet on who he was looking at but my guess is it must be Andy Hughes.

Leeds made a decent start to the second half and created the first chance but Somma scuffed his shot wide. Gradel also tested Sullivan with a driven shot from the right hand side. Despite a lack of clear cut chances Leeds were on top for large periods of the second half and fans had something to cheer as Robert Snodgrass replaced a largely ineffective Ross McCormack to a great reception. Unfortunately Snodgrass was unable to stamp his mark on the game which was probably more to do with a lack of service than anything else.

With around fifteen minutes left Leeds had the ball in the net. Johnson smashed a shot towards goal which was spilt by Sullivan and Somma pounced to poke the ball into the net. He was correctly ruled offside though but nevertheless it was a promising sign and reflected how we were edging the game.

As the game pushed on Grayson brought off Gradel who had put in an impressive attacking performance as well his share of defensive graft. Watt was brought on with five minutes left but was unable to have a real impact. In the final minutes Leeds had to be alert defensively but they were more than a match for Doncaster, Alex Bruce excelling in particular.

On reflection the 0-0 score was probably fair though it would have been nice to snatch a goal. The performance was a vast improvement on Tuesday’s nightmare and it provides a good base for us to build on going into another Yorkshire derby next week against Sheffield United.