Mills' missile sinks Rovers

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JUST WHEN it seemed a tedious Worthington Cup tie was going into extra time, Danny Mills saved the 24,353 crowd 30 minutes of further punishment last night with a goal 30 seconds from time.

JUST WHEN it seemed a tedious Worthington Cup tie was going into extra time, Danny Mills saved the 24,353 crowd 30 minutes of further punishment last night with a goal 30 seconds from time.

Craig Short brought down Darren Huckerby inches from the area and Mills thumped the free-kick through Blackburn's defensive wall and past the startled John Filan.

Leeds might top the Premiership but the First Division side created the best chance of a normal time that rarely rose above the tedious when Matt Jansen struck the bar after 70 minutes with a shot from wide on the left that was either a mis-placed cross, or a piece of marvellous improvisation.

Leeds do not share other clubs' ambivalent attitude towards the competition as the match programme underlined. "I would love to win the Worthington Cup," David O'Leary, the Leeds manager, wrote and while the teams included some unfamiliar faces it was Blackburn's line-up that surprised. Martin Taylor, Wayne Gill, Leam Richardson may be fine young players, but they are no one's idea of Rovers' strongest side.

The only occasion Leeds looked likely to prosper before the interval was when Michael Bridges and Eirik Bakke sliced through Blackburn's left flank and presented Alan Smith with a chance. A goal looked likely to break the tedium, but Filan raced out to block the shot.

Blackburn had to wait until first-half injury time when Jansen located Ashley Ward on the right of the area. The striker's shot was hard, but it was too straight and Nigel Martyn reached above his head to save.

O'Leary introduced Huckerby and Steve McPhail at half-time in an attempt to invoke a spark, but it was not until the hour mark that Mills shook everyone out of their stupor with a sudden cut-in from the right. His shot was sharp, too, although the save was routine compared with the flying one that Filan had to make when Smith flicked David Batty's shot towards the top corner.

Leeds United (4-4-2): Martyn; Mills, Radebe, Woodgate, Kelly; Bakke, Batty, Hopkin (McPhail, h-t), Kewell; Bridges (Huckerby, h-t), Smith. Substitutes not used: Haaland, Jones, Robinson (gk).

Blackburn Rovers (4-4-2): Filan; Kenna, Short, Taylor, Richardson; Johnson, Dunn, Gill, Duff; Ward, Jansen. Substitutes not used: Ostenstad, Corbett, Grayson, Brown, Kelly (gk).

Referee: J Winter (Stockton-on-Tees).

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