LEEDS United boss Neil Warnock was understandably down after witnessing a real horror show against Watford.
If it was not bad enough that his side were dismantled by Watford to lose one player to serious injury and two to suspension completed a day to forget.
The 6-1 final score did not really tell the full tale as Leeds initially played better than in some recent games only for it all to go so wrong following the harsh 44th minute sending off of centre-back Jason Pearce.
It was 1-0 to Watford at the time thanks to a controversial goal that had more than a hint of offside about it, but what had been an attractive open game was to become a bizarre contest ruined completely when Trevor Kettle’s rash red card was compounded by a broken leg for Rodolph Austin early in the second half.
With Warnock having rearranged his team by bringing on all three subs it left Leeds with just nine men for the remaining 40 minutes plus 10 minutes of injury-time.
Watford took full advantage of their extra men, but the game left a bad taste and the United manager said the final score had been made irrelevant by the serious injury to his Jamaican midfielder.
Warnock said: “I’m not devastated about the game but I am about Rudy. He has broken his leg in two places. It’s a sickening feeling for him.
“I was told it was a double fracture but he shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place (covering for Pearce at centre-half).
“Pearce’s challenge should have been a yellow card, but I think the assistants buzzed the referee to say it was a red one and they got it wrong.
“He thought he’d gone over the top, but his foot never left the ground.
“What about when we get a penalty and the lad who’s pulled him down had already been booked?
“I thought we had set up right and we had two great chances to score, hitting the post and the keeper making a good save. You need something like that to go in, but then we committed suicide with the goal.
“At half-time I wanted to try and win the game with 10 men. I didn’t want to sit back, but then that happened to Rudy and everything is irrelevant. The result’s the least of my worries when I think that we have lost Rudy for so long. When our lads knew about it, they were distraught.”
It had all started so promisingly with a great early move seeing El Hadji Diouf send Sam Byram clear down the right and his pull back was met by David Norris only for his shot to bounce back off the post.
Luke Varney, preferred to Luciano Becchio, was next to be put clear by Diouf, but his a shot was kept out by keeper Manuel Almunia.
Watford looked dangerous on the break and went ahead with their first shot on target on 28 minutes, Matej Vydra finishing emphatically after being put clear by strike partner Alex Geijo, who had looked offside in the build-up.
The Pearce sending off proved the real calamity for Leeds, however, as the centre-half was second to the ball in a challenge 35 yards from goal and caught Vydra. It was a foul, but the shock red card that followed changed the course of the match.
Warnock’s decision to bring on all three subs to play with a back three backfired spectacularly with Austin’s horror injury that came as a result of an accidental clash of legs with a Watford player after the United player had been moved back from midfield to defence.
A five minute delay ensued while the Jamaican international received oxygen before being stretchered off straight to a waiting ambulance.
Almen Abdi made it 2-0 after some neat footwork on the edge of the box then it was his turn to receive treatment, a further six minute delay coming before he was taken off with a shoulder injury.
After Mark Yeates made it 3-0 with a free-kick Leeds produced a brief fight back as Varney won a penalty when brought down by Joel Ekstrand and Michael Tonge put away the spot kick.
The Leeds crowd roared defiance and sub Ryan Hall forced a save from Almunia with a well struck free-kick, but it was game over when Vydra ran clear to make it 4-1.
Two more goals followed in the extended injury-time as subs Sean Murray and Troy Deeney hit the target with strikes from range.
Leeds United 1
(Tonge 79, pen)
(Vydra 28, 83, Abdi 61, Yeates 75, Murray 90+5, Deeney 90+9)
Saturday, November 10, 2012
Leeds: Kenny, Green (Lees 44), Pearce (sent-off 43), Peltier, White (Brown 45), Byram, Austin, Norris, Tonge, Diouf (Hall 45), Varney.
Watford: Almunia, Cassetti, Doyley, Ekstrand, Hoban, Abdi (Hogg 68), Yeates, Smith (Murray 80), Anya, Vydra, Geijo (Deeney 61).
Referee: Trevor Kettle