The 611, the £45 price and the cheap bit of cheating ... the story of Leeds United 3 Rotherham United 0

Rotherham United's Christ Tiehi moves the ball away from Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Picture: Jim BrailsfordRotherham United's Christ Tiehi moves the ball away from Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Rotherham United's Christ Tiehi moves the ball away from Leeds United's Patrick Bamford. Picture: Jim Brailsford
THE multitude of Rotherham United fans who chose to stay away in protest at the cost of tickets did themselves a favour.

Forty-five quid to watch an act of cheating put the Championship's bottom-placed club behind in a contest they were hardly likely to win anyway?

Forty-five quid to see the perpetrator shamelessly highlight how he'd duped the match officials as he celebrated with the home support?

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Forty-five quid to observe him sharing a light-hearted moment with one of those officials after the final whistle?

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Fair play to the 611 followers who still made it across the M1 rather than be one of the thousands who, quite justifiably, opted to give this Yorkshire derby a miss.

Ah, fair play. That's something that was alien to Leeds United's Patrick Bamford at a packed Elland Road on Saturday.

Just ten minutes had gone when a low cross from the left from Junior Firpo deflected off Christ Tiehi into the path of the striker who diverted the ball into the net via surreptitious use of his arm.

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“I thought we started the match terrifically well,” Millers head coach Leam Richardson said. “We took the game to them but then a big decision went against us.

Rotherham United's Peter Kioso up against Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville. Picture: Jim BrailsfordRotherham United's Peter Kioso up against Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville. Picture: Jim Brailsford
Rotherham United's Peter Kioso up against Leeds United's Crysencio Summerville. Picture: Jim Brailsford

“It's a blatant handball. It should have been easy for the referee to disallow it. Being 1-0 up allowed Leeds to play with more freedom.”

And that's exactly what the best attacking side in the second tier did, continually speeding through and around Rotherham with sharp, lethal precision until their number of chances reached almost 20.

For the out-of-pocket 611, it was an afternoon to endure, not to enjoy.

THE MATCH

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On any other day, Richardson, a season-ticket-holder on the Leeds kop in his youth, would have savoured the performance of the team in third place and eyeing the second automatic promotion.

Their French forward, Georginhio Rutter, looked every inch the £36-million purchase he is and he was outshone by Dutch winger Crysencio Summerville, a £1.3m signing playing like another £36m one.

The Millers were bright for a few opening minutes, then overrun for 80 until a brief, late flurry brought efforts on target for Odoffin and Sam Clucas when the game was already long lost.

“You don't kid yourself,” said their boss of two months. “You're coming to Elland Road where there's a plethora of offensive players.

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“If they counter on you, they'll hurt you. They've just come out of the Premier League.

“We need to show more belief. I thought we got into some really good offensive positions, but we don't take care of the ball enough in those moments.

“I don't want to take a backward step. When I came into the building the challenge was already on.

“We have a choice: we either go forward with that challenge and make a fist of it or we roll over and go around the country not giving a good account of ourselves.”

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For the second week in succession, Rotherham had the misfortune to run into the form team in the division.

After Southampton and their unbeaten 22-match run seven days earlier came Daniel Farke's men and a 2024 bandwagon incorporating seven wins and a draw in eight outings since the turn of the year.

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Leeds, with their top-flight pedigree and parachute payments, were clinical in everything except their finishing.

The conman with number 9 on his back broke the deadlock early and then - just as he'd done in the process of scoring - led with his elbow as he ran to the Leeds fans.

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Jordan Hugill left a studded calling card down the back of Joe Rodon's ankle before Summerville, Bamford and Wilfried Gnonto took turns to miss and, somewhere in the midst of all that, Viktor Johansson saved smartly from Archie Gray and Gnonto.

It was game over for the Millers in the 52nd minute when Rutter sent Summerville streaking clear and a player of real class produced a moment of supreme quality as he lifted the ball past Johansson.

The way he converted a penalty, earned when he'd been manhandled by Peter Kioso on the hour mark, was even better: a nerveless ‘Panenka’ dink straight down the middle as Johansson dived to his left.

Gnonto fired wide, Joel Piroe was just off target and then came the exchange between Bamford and linesman Nick Hopton that so stirred Richardson's ire.

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“What I didn't like was the assistant referee on this side laughing and joking after the game with the player who has cost us a possible result,” he said. “I think that's vulgar, I think it's unprofessional behaviour.

“That's not an excuse for the result at all. I'm saying it to help the officiating going forward.”

THE GAP

Another game down, 16 left and 12 points to make up in the battle for safety.

Rotherham defend in numbers and attack without conviction, lacking the firepower required to make a difference at this level. Summerville's double took his league tally to 14, three more than the Millers' combined starting 11.

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The next three months are now as much about preparing for next term as they are about what happens in the rest of this one.

Richardson hit the repeat button, echoing sentiments previously expressed: “You've got to work hard, you've got to come into training and get strong habits, you've got to have belief and consistency and be efficient in what you do.

“We have to do it together. It's not an individual sport, it's a team one. I've never won anything with one or two players, I've won some things with 20 players and a really good staff. It's my job to build the culture and environment.

“A strong foundation starts at the training ground. It starts with your habits through the week. When you get emotionally stressed in games you need to be able to call on good habits. That's what I've lived by and I'll instil it in the group.”

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The 611 slid quietly out of Elland Road to their cars, to the train, to the one coach - well done, the Crown Inn at Greasbrough - that had made the journey.

Forty-five quid is too high a price for fans to pay to attend a Championship game.

The price the Millers will pay for their troubled campaign is that those same supporters will be watching in League One next season.

Leeds (4-2-3-1): Illan Meslier; Archie Gray, Joe Rodon, Ethan Ampadu, Junior Firpo (Sam Byram 63); Ilia Gruev (Connor Roberts 75), Glen Kamara (Charlie Cresswell 84); Wilfried Gnonto, Georginio Rutter, Crysencio Summerville (Joel Piroe 63); Patrick Bamford (Mateo Joseph 75). Subs not used: Kris Klaesson, Liam Cooper, Jaidon Anthony, Joe Gelhardt.

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Rotherham (3-5-1-1): Viktor Johansson; Hakeem Odoffin, Sean Morrison (Cameron Humphreys 79), Lee Peltier; Peter Kioso, Jamie Lindsay (Andy Rinomhota 63), Christ Tiehi (Ollie Rathbone 87), Sam Clucas, Seb Revan; Cafu (Tom Eaves 63); Jordan Hugill (Sam Nombe 63). Subs not used: Dillon Phillips, Arvin Appiah, Femi Seriki, Charlie Wyke.

Goals: Bamford 10, Summerville 52, pen 60 (Leeds).

Referee: Andy Madley (Huddersfield).

Attendance: 35,261 (611).