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Leeds 2 Rotherham 0: Five things we learned

Rotherham fell to a third defeat in a row after they were beaten 2-0 at Leeds in the FA Cup.

Although comfort can be taken from the fact that no points were at stake, it was still another loss and it extended their truly terrible FA Cup record which stretches back over 15 years.

Photo: www.leedsunited.com

Here's five things we learned from the game.

We know where the priority lies

Given a choice between a win at Elland Road and a win against Brighton in the league on Tuesday, there's no doubt which one Rotherham would choose and that was evident with the game management against Leeds. If boss Neil Redfearn could have, he would have made several changes to his starting XI but injuries, ineligibilities and loan recalls meant that he could not rest any of his key players. But the substitutions that were made pointed to the fact the the Millers had one eye on Tuesday. Trailing 1-0 in a cup tie, Redfearn took main striker Danny Ward off with key midfielder Grant Ward following soon after, with the boss admitting it was to save them for midweek. It was clearly the right call, everyone should value Championship safety over a cup run.

The best of a bad situation

Losing is never something that should be accepted, the Millers should be trying to win every game and they did try at Elland Road, but some defeats are easier to take than others and the manner of their loss should offer some comfort. They put in a spirited performance, matching Leeds throughout, only to be undone by a moment of brilliance and a howler fit for any end-of-season blooper DVD. It was in no way a confidence-sapping loss. Apart from a slight worry over Shay Facey, who felt his hamstring and was taken off at half-time, the Millers seemed to have come through unscathed ahead of the Brighton game. And if they can take something out of that, this loss will be quickly be forgotten.

Lack of quality hurts

It could all have been so different had the Millers shown any sort of quality in the final third. For long periods in either half the visitors were the better team, camped deep in Leeds' territory, but at no point in the game did they look like scoring. There was a distinct lack of creativity, not helped by the absence of Tony Andreu, and every time they got in dangerous positions they were let down by a final pass. Joe Newell, Grant Ward, Jonson Clarke-Harris and Emmanuel Ledesma were all guilty of it and the two shots that the Millers found the target with were routine saves for the Leeds goalkeeper. It's usually scoring chances that is the Millers' problem rather than not creating them. Let's hope they rediscover their attacking verve quickly.

Good start for Aimen Belaid 

Rotherham fans finally got a look at Tunisia defender Aimen Belaid, who was pictured in a red and white shirt several weeks ago. He was thrown straight in for his debut 24 hours after receiving international clearance on his move from Levski Sofia and he showed that he can be a capable performer for Redfearn's men. Blessed with pace and a good positional sense, Belaid offered a solid first appearance alongside Kirk Broadfoot and it's a partnership that can only get better. He was strong in the tackle and good in the air and he might even be a threat in the opposition penalty area. The early signs are good with this one.

Can we play you every week?

Mustapha Carayol must wish he can play against Rotherham every week. Just 26 days after he sent in an unstoppable shot which gave his then-side Huddersfield a 1-0 lead in the Sky Bet Championship against the Millers he was at it again just 45 minutes into his debut for Leeds. On both occasions he was given far too much space by Rotherham, who invited him to shoot, but he still showed the skill and technique to find the back of the net from distance, changing both games. After a dour opening 45 minutes it was always going to take something like that to be the difference and it gave Leeds the platform they needed to win the game. Rotherham will be glad they don't have to see him again until at least April.  

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