The ill-tempered and combustible relationship between managers Frank Lampard and Marcelo Bielsa had further fuel poured upon it by referee Craig Pawson in a moment of high controversy at Pride Park.
Derby were trailing to Kemar Roofe’s goal in their play-off semi-final first leg when Pawson pointed to the spot after 77 minutes after Leeds midfielder Jack Harrison tangled with Jayden Bogle and appeared to pull him to the ground.
But, after consulting assistant Eddie Smart, Pawson reversed his decision, instead awarding Leeds a free-kick and adding to Derby’s years of frustration and misery in their attempts to win promotion in the post-season.
Roofe had struck 10 minutes into the second half from the first mistake made by either defence during a cagey opening to the semi-final first leg.
Harrison’s long pass was well aimed but exploited gaps unseen to that point and helped by referee Craig Pawson’s excellent decision to play advantage after a Tom Lawrence foul.
Roofe was composed and calm and gave Kelle Roos no chance with his clinical finish.
Making a fourth visit to the play-offs in the last six seasons, Lampard’s team was very much looking for an improvement on their solitary Wembley appearance in that spell, and a defeat to QPR five years ago.
They certainly opened the game with the intention of making an early statement in an already strong rivalry that was further fuelled by January’s “Spygate” when Bielsa sent staff to spy on the Rams before a league meeting which his side won 2-0.
But the only moment of real concern for the visitors came when Gaetano Berardi was required to make a committed and well-timed block to prevent David Nugent’s near-post shot from troubling keeper Kiko Casilla.
Instead, Leeds began to take control of midfield, even after Adam Forshaw was replaced by Jamie Shackleton due to injury, and the Rams spent much of the first half attempting to soak up the pressure from visitors who had lost three and drawn one of their final four games of the regular season.
Mateusz Klich pounced on a cleared corner with a long shot that flew well over then set up Stuart Dallas whose more composed attempt curled just wide.
The increasingly threatening Roofe – a goalscorer in both of the league games won by Leeds against Derby this season – forced Fikayo Tomori into an athletic and important clearance and even forward Tom Lawrence joined the rearguard action when he headed behind to …read more
Source:: Daily Times