Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Ramon At The Double

Leeds United manager Simon Grayson made six changes from the side which drew 2-2 at West Ham just over 48 hours ago. Included in those were debuts for Paul Rachubka and Zac Thompson while Paul Connolly, Ramon Nunez, Lloyd Sam, and Andy O'Brien were all given run-outs.Included in the Doncaster side for the Carling Cup second round tie was formed Leeds skipper Richard Naylor.Unsurprisingly, the game attracted a big Leeds following, but the other three sides of the Keepmoat Stadium were sparsely populated by home fans.But it was those home fans who were celebrating after less than three minutes when James Hayter got in the end of an angled ball from distance into the box and turned it beyond Rachubka.
The hosts almost capitalised on some poor marking at a free-kick in the eighth minute, but O'Brien made a timely intervention to head an attempt clear.It was a frenetic start from the home side who looked to put Leeds under all sorts of early pressure.Rachubka was called upon to make a decent save inside the opening 20 minutes when he was tested by Kyle Bennett after United lost possession in the middle of the park and moments later, the keeper had to get down well at his near post to deny Simon Gillett as the hosts made all the early running.It should have been 2-0 on 21 minutes, though, when Doncaster broke quickly and Bennett lifted the ball over Rachubka. Thankfully, the ball came back off the inside of the post and back into the arms of the Leeds keeper.That appeared to be the cue for Leeds to finally come into the game with a first real spell of pressure. And Jonny Howson came within a whisker of bagging a leveller when he returned a Naylor clearance with a dipping shot which went just over the bar.Leeds were level on the half-hour however, courtesy of a stunning volley from Ramon Nunez. It was a superb strike from the Honduran who caught everyone by surprise with a sweetly struck first-time effort from just outside of the box.
The equaliser opened the game up more and as proceedings headed towards the halfway point, both sides were looking to get the ball forward quickly.One minute of stoppage time was added and in that first minute, Ross McCormack sent a shot skidding wide of the post.But it was Doncaster who had the first raid of the second period when Rachubka got down well to block a Bennett header after a good cross from Mustapha Dumbuya. Bennett had been a threat all night and he went close again when he lifted a shot just over Rachubka's bar.United's response came courtesy of Keogh, who sent a shot wide of the mark. McCormack also lifted the ball high and wide after some decent build-up play.
On the hour, Grayson made his first change, handing youngster Charlie Taylor another opportunity, in place of White at left-back. Max Gradel soon followed when he came on with 26 minutes still left on the clock.
The Ivorian had the ball in the net with a rare header three minutes after coming on, but the whistle had already been blown for an infringment. Gradel also weaved his way into the box moments later, but lifted a shot over the top.
There was a lot of bluster from both sides as the game entered the final 15 minutes, but little in the way of clear cut chances. Rachubka was called upon to save a swirling shot from Mark Wilson, but the effort was an opportunist strike from outside of the area.
At the other end, there was another strike from outside of the area, but this time it came from the boot of man in form Nunez and his stinging strike was well placed to bulge the net with Gary Woods well beaten.
It was Nunez's fifth strike of the season and, in keeping with his other goals, it was another classy effort from the Honduran.
The goal left United with less than 10 minutes to preserve the lead and spare an extra 30 minutes, and Rachubka did well to deny George Friend when a free-kick was sent in by the hosts on 87 minutes.
Moments later, Rachubka was beaten by a screamer from Bennett, but for the second time in the game, the youngster struck the upright.
Four minutes of stoppage time were added on, and Gradel had an opportunity to finish the tie early when he raced from the half-way line. But home goalkeeper Woods did well and managed to deny the United sub.

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