As performances continue to be so poor, Neil Redfearn's team selections become more and more worrying with the severe shake-up the team looks to need still not being executed. Last night saw a mis-firing Souleymane Doukara return in favour of Billy Sharp with Michael Tonge making way for Rodolph Austin. A horrendously out-of-form Tommaso Bianchi retained his place in the heart of the Leeds midfield, whilst the creative Adryan was benched again, this time through a mysterious illness. Ultimately, it was an eleven - and the diamond formation - far too similar to the one we've seen bullied by much weaker opposition throughout the season.
On the opposite flank, Sam Byram had an equally tough task in coping with Liverpool loanee Jordan Ibe - the kind of quick, exciting Premiership winger that if Derby could, then Leeds also could surely have loaned. Byram did half a decent job on the youngster for fifteen minutes but it was Ibe who controlled proceedings for much of the evening. The away sides centre half pairing of Cooper and Bellusci were on hand for much of the first half to desperately hack away at Ibe's teasing crosses which for much of the period, prevented Derby from having a clear shot at goal. In fact it was Leeds who could have fashioned the best chance of the opening exchanges, but after an outstanding run Lewis Cook was halted by Richard Keogh when a simple pass could have played in either Austin or Mirko Antenucci who were both through on goal.
That ten second piece of brilliance from a young player heading to the Premiership whilst Leeds go the other way was about as exciting as it got for Leeds who for forty minutes were more concerned with harassing an increasingly frustrated Derby. Frustration lifted four minutes before the break though; in a half of little goal mouth action, it was Leeds who shot themselves in the foot again with their second own goal in four days. Alex Mowatt, who must have only touched the ball six times throughout the ninety minutes, was the unlucky man this time, looping the ball into his own top corner with Johnny Russell bearing down upon him. 1-0 and probably game over, given that the spark in Leeds' front players has gone, if it even ever existed. Derby almost went into the half time break 2-0 up and would have had it not been for an excellent save from Marco Silvestri who acrobatically turned away Richard Keogh's goal-bound header. From the resulting corner, the outstanding Ibe tested the Italian stopper again with a half volley, but Silvestri gathered at the second attempt.
|Look, Doukara nearly touched the ball.|
ly over their shoulder.
Derby County: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Eustace, Hendrick (Bryson 80), Hughes, Ibe (Coutts 90+1), Russell (Dawkins 90), Martin. Subs: Roos, Best, Shotton, Mascarell.
Leeds United: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Pearce, Warnock (Berardi 8) Cook, Bianchi (Adryan 79) Mowatt, Austin, Antenucci, Doukara (Sharp 66). Subs: Taylor, Del Fabro, Tonge, Montenegro.