Leeds 3-2 Doncaster: Warnock watches great escape - Sunday Mirror match report
Published 17:10 18/02/12 By Derick Allsop
Neil Warnock must be a confused man. He saw the worst of Leeds for much of the match yet would probably have left with a sense of optimism.
The newly-appointed Elland Road manager watched from the stands as Leeds came from two goals down to earn an unlikely victory – with a half-time team talk making all the difference.
The play-offs, let alone the Premier League, must have looked a distant fantasy from Warnock’s seat as
substitute Mamadou Bagayoko’s first two goals for Doncaster threatened to put the points out of reach.
Dean Saunders’ relegation strugglers also hit the frame of the goal twice in a performance inspired by the mercurial El-Hadji Diouf.
But Leeds produced a spirited revival that will encourage Warnock.
Andros Townsend and Adam Clayton pulled them level before Luciano Becchio thumped the winner eight minutes into injury time.
Leeds’ caretaker boss, Neil Redfearn, revealed Warnock’s half-time team talk changed the course of the match.
Redfearn said: “Neil had a big input and it made a difference. It was good, sensible advice. He told the players to be more positive.
“He was always going to come in at half-time. He’s the gaffer and if he wants to come in, he can.”
In his programme notes, Monaco-exiled chairman Ken Bates stated: “We are not rushing into any new managerial appointments. The next one must be a man who will take us into the Premier League with his managerial and tactical skills, not some headline-seeking spendthrift.”
Whatever constitutes a rush or headline-seeker, Warnock, who turned down Bates’ offer to take over at Chelsea 21 years ago, arrived in time to pop into the dressing room for an introductory word.
The man with a reputation for winning promotions – seven so far – and speaking his mind might have been composing his first rant here after barely 10 minutes. Leeds left Habib Bamogo unmarked at a free-kick and were fortunate his improvised back-heel struck a post.
Doncaster were ever- prepared to hit Leeds on the break and that strategy paid off when they took the lead.
Diouf played in James Hayter and although Andy Lonergan averted the initial danger, Bagayoko scored his first Doncaster goal from the rebound.
Doncaster almost doubled their advantage early in the second half when Hayter struck the bar.
The threatened second duly came and Diouf played a crucial role, knocking the ball across the face of goal for Bagayoko to score.
This time Leeds had a positive response, Becchio heading over before Townsend drilled home a shot beyond David Button’s reach.
Bagayoko was denied a hat-trick by Lonergan’s block, Becchio an equaliser by Button, who then took the ball off Ross McCormack’s feet as he seemed certain to walk the ball into the net.
But Leeds’ pressure eventually told as Robert Snodgrass played the ball in for Clayton to score at the near post before Becchio completed the turn-around with an emphatic finish.