ROTHERHAM United bowed out of the FA Cup at the third round stage as Mustapha Carayol’s first-half thunderbolt and Souleymane Doukara’s late goal settled the White Rose clash.
There was little between the sides for the majority of the Elland Road encounter, but goals late in each half saw the home side book their passage to the fourth round.
Following their last-gasp defeat at the hands of Preston North End last time out, the Millers made three changes to their starting line-up for the short hop to West Yorkshire.
Former Leeds favourite Frazer Richardson made a return to his old stomping ground after recovering from concussion sustained in the recent Fulham clash while Tunisian international Aimen Belaid was handed a Millers debut just 24 hours after putting pen to paper on a deal from Levski Sofia.
The Paris-born defender was given a start in the heart of the Rotherham rearguard as Farrend Rawson missed out because of a hamstring injury while Kirk Broadfoot was handed the Millers armband as Lee Frecklington was also absent because of a hamstring injury suffered against the Lilywhites, with another ex-White Paul Green replacing him in the visitors engine room.
On the bench, Alex Cairns was named as back-up goalkeeper after signing for the Millers on a deal until the end of the season while former Millers loanee Scott Wootton was named as a substitute for Steve Evans’ men.
The home side were quick out of the blocks and Mustapha Carayol got the better of Richardson to float a dangerous cross which looked to fall kindly for Sam Byram, but he was unable to get his shot away as Rotherham scrambled the ball clear.
In Rotherham’s first foray of note, Joe Mattock almost ghosted in unnoticed from the left flank but Giuseppe Bellusci managed to block his tame shot from the edge of the area.
Moments later, the Leeds backline failed to deal with Mattock’s centre and Green pounced on the loose ball to drill a low effort from the edge of the box which had home keeper Marco Silvestri scrambling across goal as he smothered the ball to safety.
There was a moment of controversy when Carayol stopped assuming a free-kick award would be given following a tussle with Grant Ward, allowing the Tottenham loanee to burst clear and in the next phase of play, good play from Richie Smallwood and Joe Newell paved the way for Shay Facey to fizz a low effort which whistled past the home upright.
Lovely one-touch football from the Millers involving Smallwood, Newell and Grant Ward presented the opportunity for Danny Ward to go one-on-one with Liam Cooper but after turning smartly initially, the home skipper managed to prevent Ward from shooting goalwards with a timely tackle.
In a rare attack from the home side, Liam Bridcutt cut inside to deliver a tantalising centre which was inch-perfect for the run of Byram, who headed goalwards but Lee Camp was on his toes to parry the ball to safety.
The Millers fans had their hearts in their mouths when Luke Murphy swung a dangerous free-kick which skimmed off the head of Broadfoot and the ball flew just wide of the upright.
With half-time approaching, Charlie Taylor got clear on the left to float a centre which Murphy miscued into the path of Souleymane Doukara, who fired goalwards but Green managed to get in a timely block, as the ball squirted harmlessly wide of the target.
However, the home side broke the deadlock with just seconds remaining of the half when a long floated ball saw Taylor flick the ball into the path of Carayol, who fired a thunderous shot from distance which seemed to fly in the air as it smashed into the roof of the home net giving Camp no chance.
The goal was reminiscent of Carayol’s strike for Huddersfield against the Millers in mid-December, as his latest goal gave Neil Redfearn’s men a mountain to climb at the interval.
Half-time:- Leeds United 1 Rotherham United 0
The Millers had Mattock for thank for keeping them in the game in the first action of the second half as Bridcutt robbed Broadfoot of possession before waltzing into the box to deliver a tantalising centre which the ex-Leicester full-back superbly turned around the post under pressure from a home attacker.
Moments later, Byram fired a stinging effort from the edge of the box which was diffused by Camp before Murphy’s superb cross saw Cooper nip infront of his marker to glance a header, which fortunately for the Millers, was straight down the throat of the visitors’ keeper in the home side’s next attack.
Redfearn introducted Argentine Emmanuel Ledesma into the fray and move almost paid immediate dividends when he latched onto Green’s pass to maraud into the box but his clipped cross was plucked out of the sky by Silvestri.
Ledesma was in the thick of the action and he had Cooper in a trance with a clever piece of footwork before drilling a low effort which Silvestri was forced to turn around the post.
The Millers were putting the home side on the backfoot and Bellusci saw yellow after Broadfoot spun on a sixpence before being hauled down by the Italian but Ledesma failed to make it count as he floated the resultant free-kick from the edge of the box harmlessly over the bar.
Minutes later, a home attack broke down and Grant Ward pounced on the loose ball to give sub Jonson Clarke-Harris a sight of goal but his low effort failed to trouble Silvestri.
Moments later, Richardson showed fleet of foot to leave Bellusci grasping at thin air near the touchline but his tame cross was comfortably gathered by Silvestri before Clarke-Harris became the latest to see yellow for a cynical lunge on Taylor.
The home side almost doubled their lead when sub Sol Bamba headed wide before fellow sub Stuart Dallas crashed an effort against the bar from the edge of the box following Antenucci’s lay off.
However, Leeds did not have to wait long to seal the deal when Doukara pounced on defensive hesitation between Camp and Richardson to roll the ball into the unguarded net and book the home side’s passage into the next round.
Full-time:- Leeds United 2 Rotherham United 0
Leeds United 2
Rotherham United 0
Teams:- Leeds- Silvestri, Coyle, Bellusci (Bamba 79), Cooper, Taylor, Byram, Bridcutt, Murphy (Cook 88), Carayol (Dallas 84), Antenucci, Doukara. Unused- Peacock-Farrell, Wootton, Phillips, Bianchi.
Rotherham- Camp, Richardson, Broadfoot, Belaid, Mattock, Facey (Clarke-Harris 46), Green, Smallwood, Newell, G Ward (Derbyshire 78), D Ward (Ledesma 57). Unused:- Cairns, Colins, Thorpe, Warren.
Referee:- A Woolmer
Attendance:- 16039 (1344)