Both teams reduced to 10 men as Joe Newell's header seals the points...
LEEDS 0, ROTHERHAM 1 (Newell 54)
Leeds team: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas (Botaka 67), Cook (Erwin 85), Murphy (Adeyemi 67), Mowatt, Antenucci, Wood. Subs: Horton, Byram, Buckley, Doukara.
Rotherham team: Camp, Buxton, Kelly, Broadfoot, Mattock (Toffolo 45), G Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Newell (Collins 89), Clarke-Harris (D Ward 80), Best. Subs: Collin, Andreu, Barker, Derbyshire.
Referee: Keith Stroud
Booked: Antenucci, Murphy, Bellusci (Leeds), Mattock, Broadfoot, Newell, D Ward (Rotherham)
Sent off: Berardi (Leeds), Best (Rotherham)
Attendance: 25,802 (905 Rotherham)
In an unforeseen reversal of roles from the final day of last season, Steve Evans and Neil Redfearn switched dugouts as Rotherham visited a bitterly cold Elland Road for this Yorkshire derby.
Evans, coming up against his former side for the first time since leaving the New York Stadium in September, named an unchanged starting line-up from the win at Huddersfield a fortnight earlier. The only notable absence came on the substitutes bench as captain Sol Bamba missed out with a foot injury, meaning Liam Cooper continued with the armband.
A somewhat cagey start to proceedings saw little in the way of goalmouth action. The Rotherham defence held firm to clear an Alex Mowatt free-kick to safety and Leon Best smashed an effort high and wide for the Millers, but both goalkeepers remained untested inside the opening 15 minutes.
Leeds did have the ball in the back of the net on 18 minutes, though, as Stuart Dallas tapped in a rebound from close-range after Chris Wood’s low strike was parried into his path, but the offside flag was raised against the New Zealand striker.
Mowatt, who was being urged to shoot every time he picked up the ball following stunning strikes against Cardiff and Huddersfield, saw his 25-yard effort swerve well wide before the best chance of the opening exchanges fell to the midfielder inside the area.
Some smart build-up play between Mirco Antenucci and Dallas set the latter free down the right to cutback for the arriving Mowatt, only for Lee Camp to deny him a third in as many matches which a fine, sprawling save to push the ball behind.
That sparked a good spell of Leeds pressure and both Lewis Cook and Antenucci saw efforts blocked inside the area. Antenucci then forced Camp to back-pedal and tip his right-wing cross onto the roof of the net as it dipped perilously towards goal, before Giuseppe Bellusci speculatively fired into the Millers ‘keeper’s arms after the resulting corner had fallen into his path.
At the opposite end, Rotherham clipped the woodwork through Richard Smallwood’s free-kick, but the visitors were forced to re-take it after Antenucci was adjudged to have encroached and was subsequently yellow carded.
The game headed towards the interval with Leeds continuing to probe for an opening but struggling to find a way past a stern Rotherham defence.
Evans’ side almost managed to do that just 10 seconds into the second half, Antenucci driving forward before unleashing a low strike which rolled inches wide of Camp’s far post in a lightening return from the break.
Antenucci then saw Wood’s cross late moments later and was unable to connect as Leeds pushed for a way through.
But it was the visitors who managed to break the deadlock on 54 minutes, Joe Newell rising inside the area to guide home Smallwood’s pin-point cross from the left with a precise header.
Leeds looked to respond and could well have done so four minutes later had it not been for a last-ditch block from Rotherham substitute Harry Toffolo to deny Luke Murphy from getting a clean sight of goal after being slotted through by Wood.
Jonson Clarke-Harris forced Silvestri into a comfortable low save at the other end, before Antenucci passed up a great chance to equalise, hammering wide from inside the area following Wood’s cushioned header into his path.
Evans was prompted into a double change on 67 minutes, introducing Tom Adeyemi and Jordan Botaka in place of Murphy and Dallas, but both teams were soon reduced to 10 men following an altercation by the touchline.
Gaetano Berardi for Leeds and Best for Rotherham were given their marching orders after 73 minutes – Best for his aerial challenge on the full-back, and Berardi for his reaction.
Evans introduced Lee Erwin for his Leeds debut in place of Lewis Cook as the game headed towards six minutes of added time.
Botaka side-footed an effort across the face of goal before Wood’s header was clutched by Camp after a brilliant ball in from the right by Antenucci. Erwin saw his first-time strike blocked by Lee Frecklington as Leeds continued to press in stoppage time.
But there proved to be no way through for the hosts and Rotherham could have added a late second as Grant Ward drilled a low strike wide of Silvestri's far post.