Leeds United will be glad to see the back of 2014 after ending the year on another low with an all too predictable defeat at Derby County.
Neil Redfearn’s men were well in the game for the first 40 minutes, but paid for a bad patch either side of half-time as they lost 2-0 to the promotion challengers.
Until Alex Mowatt’s own goal just before half-time United had frustrated their hosts and looked in no real danger, but it was worrying that after they went behind there was all too little fight and it was then all too easy for the Rams.
The fact that Leeds did not manage a single effort on target and only one shot at all in the second half told the story of how poor they ultimately were.
The game lacked a spark in the first half although the United midfield looked solid and they had the best early chance when the recalled Souleymane Doukara put in Mirco Antenucci only for the Italian striker to hit his angled shot wide.
Tomasso Bianchi whacked a long range strike well wide and Antenucci hit another effort from outside the box over, but there was little sign of a goal at either end before out of the blue Derby took the lead.
Will Hughes wriggled his way free in the box and crossed low where Mowatt was first to the ball only to turn it past his own keeper as he could not sort out his feet quickly enough.
The goal certainly changed the game and United were relieved to hear the half-time whistle after Derby went close again through a Richard Keogh header and a Jordan Ibe shot that both required Marco Silvestri’s first saves of the game.
Derby began the second half as they ended the first with Ibe winning a free-kick on the left and Jeff Hendrick’s cross then being met by Jake Buxton who was allowed room to head past Silvestri to make it 2-0.
Leeds’ reaction was poor and the hosts could have scored more almost instantly as Ibe’s 20-yard shot was saved low down by Silvestri then Hughes’ strike was comfortably kept out and Chris Martin was allowed a free header in the box only to send the ball wide.
There was nothing coming back from United and Silvestri was brought into the action again to save easily from Martin before Johnny Russell sent a free-kick over from the edge of the box.
The game drifted to its inevitable conclusion with Leeds offering little hope of a comeback and their only shot being a Rudy Austin free-kick in injury-time that went high into the crowd and brought ironic cheers.
Once again they had no plan B and the defeat left the Whites in real trouble just one point above the relegation zone.
Derby County 2
(Mowatt og 41, Buxton 47)
Leeds United 0
Tuesday, December 30, 2014
Sky Bet Championship
Derby: Grant, Christie, Keogh, Buxton, Forsyth, Hendrick (Bryson 79), Eustace, Hughes, Russell (Coutts 90), Ibe (Dawkins 90), Martin.
Leeds: Silvestri, Byram, Bellusci, Cooper, Warnock (Berardi 8), Bianchi (Adryan 79), Cook, Mowatt, Austin, Doukara (Sharp 65), Antenucci.
Referee: Keith Stroud.