Neil Redfearn returned to haunt Leeds United owner Massimo Cellino as he returned to Elland Road to pick up all three points with his bottom of the table Rotherham United side.
After only taking one point from his first six games in charge of the Millers, Redfearn was able to celebrate a 1-0 victory, given him by Joe Newell’s 54th minute header.
For Leeds boss Steve Evans it was a disastrous first game against the team he formerly managed, although he could points to some big missed chances from his new team that proved costly.
Mirco Antenucci was the biggest culprit, fluffing two golden opportunities while Chris Wood had a great chance in the 90th minute to rescue a point, but could only send a soft header straight to Millers keeper Lee Camp.
Both sides ended with 10 men after a 74th minute flare-up when Leon Best caught Gaetano Berardi with a flying elbow and the Leeds defender reacted angrily by pushing the Rotherham striker to the ground.
Berardi was clearly incensed and needed calming down as he was led off the pitch, but the upshot was a red card for both players - probably the right decision from referee Keith Stroud who otherwise had a poor performance.
Little in the way of good football happened in the first half and it was no surprise it ended goalless.
Leeds did have the ball in the back of the net on 17 minutes through Stuart Dallas’s shot, but the offside flag went up against Wood in the build-up.
Best sent an early shot over for Rotherham, but there was no other threat from the visitors.
Alex Mowatt could not repeat his heroics with a 25-yard shot that went well wide and the midfielder saw another shot turned wide by Camp after Dallas got in behind the Millers defence and supplied a good low cross.
A mis-hit Antenucci cross had to be turned over the bar by Camp and the visitors’ keeper caught a long range shot by Giuseppe Bellusci, but it was 0-0 at half-time.
The second half almost started spectacularly for Leeds when straight from the kick-off Antenucci was sent free and his shot from the edge of the box fizzed inches wide.
Antenucci then stumbled and could not reach Wood’s great cross in the box.
But it was Rotherham who took the lead out of the blue when Leeds players hesitated after the visitors were allowed to get away with a dangerous looking tackle in midfield and were then statues in defence as Newell was given time and space to direct his header past Marco Silvestri.
Leeds almost hit straight back when Luke Murphy was played in by Wood, but saw his shot somehow blocked by Harry Toffolo.
With the game suddenly much livelier, Jonson Clarke-Harris turned in the box and saw his shot saved by Silvestri while at the other end Antenucci had his best chance only to send his volley wide after he had been found by Wood’s knock down.
Evans threw on two subs in Tom Adeyemi and Jordan Botaka, but before the changes could have any effect Leeds were rearranging further after losing Berardi who was sent off along with Rotherham striker Best.
The Whites huffed and puffed in the closing stages, but only created one more chance when Antenucci’s cross dropped onto the head of Wood, but he could only send his header straight to keeper Camp.
Leeds head coach Evans was not happy with Berardi’s sending off, but got clarification from referee Stroud.
He said: “You can’t react the way he did, but he has been absolutely smashed by the elbow. He was sent off for an aggressive push and I understand Best was sent off for his challenge and the headbutt when Berardi got up.
“I don’t think we lacked application effort, we lacked quality.
“We made six good chances and they took the only one they made.
“I react badly to losing games and I wish Rotherham well, but we feel we contributed.
“I thought we would win and if we take our chances we win, but it’s fine lines. I will be low for a couple of days, but my job will be to pick the boys up for the next challenge.”
Leeds United 0
Rotherham United 1
Saturday, November 21, 2015
Sky Bet Championship
Leeds: Silvestri, Wootton, Bellusci, Cooper, Berardi, Dallas (Botaka 67), Murphy (Adeyemi 67), Cook (Erwin 84), Mowatt, Antenucci, Wood.
Rotherham United: Camp, Buxton, Broadfoot, Kelly, Mattock (Toffalo 45), G Ward, Smallwood, Frecklington, Newell (Collins 89), Best, Clarke-Harris (D Ward 80).
Referee: Keith Stroud