Leeds United climbed back into the top six of the Skybet Championship after a 3-0 away win at Doncaster Rovers that was never as comfortable as the final score suggested.
Matt Smith headed the Whites in front in the opening half, but they had to survive big Rovers pressure after the break before Ross McCormack’s 17th goal of the season and a late Rudy Austin effort sealed victory.
The game hinged on a controversial offside decision that denied Theo Robinson an equaliser midway through the second half with the linesman’s flag being waved after the ball had already found its way into the net.
Doncaster manager Paul Dickov said that after seeing a replay his player was two yards onside and was clearly unhappy about the decision afterwards, but this was Leeds’ day.
They were the better side in the first half and after McCormack headed an early half-chance over they went in front when Smith bundled home Alex Mowatt’s free-kick from close range.
Without really dominating in difficult windy conditions they were comfortable at the back and created more chances with some good breaks, McCormack and Austin shooting over, Mowatt having a shot from the edge of the box saved by home keeper Ross Turnbull and Smith heading a McCormack cross just over.
The hosts’ only reply of note was a Robinson shot well over after he had turned cleverly in the box.
But the second half was initially all Rovers with United hanging on. Richie Wellens hit one shot just wide and saw another effort well saved by Paddy Kenny then the late flag denied Robinson after he had got in behind Leeds’ defence from a Wellens pass.
Martin Woods fizzed a shot not far wide and on-loan Manchester United striker Federico Macheda blasted high and wide, but a goal would not come.
It was completely against the run of play that United scored on 76 minutes when they finally got the ball down and Smith and Danny Pugh combined to find McCormack, who did the rest with a great dribble and shot under keeper Turnbull from the tightest of angles.
They added a third goal three minutes from time when McCormack’s cross fell behind Smith, but Austin was well placed to beat Turnbull with a left foot shot.
The 3-0 score was unjust, but was reward for some good defending from United in the second half when they were under pressure.
With Blackpool and Nottingham Forest ahead of them in the table both failing to win the Whites have gone back to sixth place.
Doncaster Rovers 0
Leeds United 3
(Smith 19, McCormack 76, Austin 87)
Saturday, December 14, 2013
Doncaster: Turnbull; Quinn, Khumalo, McCulloch, Stevens; Woods, Furman (Duffy 66), Wellens; Macheda (Coppinger 82), Robinson, Brown.
Leeds: Kenny; Lees, Zaliukas, Pearce; Peltier, Murphy, Mowatt (Brown 73), Austin, Pugh; McCormack (Poleon 90), Smith.
Referee: Phil Dowd.