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Leeds and Wednesday draw a blank at Hillsborough
Saturday, 26th Oct 2019 22:51 by Tim Whelan

It was an eventful game despite the scoreline, and Leeds came away from Sheffield Wednesday with a point that keeps us up in the top three this evening.

The game took place in the pouring rain that was causing chaos in several parts of the country and had led to postponements on numerous grounds, so we were lucky this game took place when it did. I just hope nobody ended up having to walk all the way from Sheffield station after the cancellation of the tram service.

As ever, there was a sold out Leeds section, but quite a few gaps were noticeable in the crowd at the other end, which is surprising given that Wednesday fans are far more obsessed with us than we will ever be with them. Apart from their lone percussionist it was up to us to make most of the atmosphere. We’re Leeds United, we don’t need a drum!

As ever, Marcello Bielsa was deaf to all criticism and stuck with the same starting line-up as ever, though captain Cooper was fit enough to return to the bench. On the telly guest pundit Jermaine Beckford suggested we could have a 3-5-2 formation to accommodate both Bamford and Eddie up front, and I have to say I quite like that.

In the opposite dugout Gary Monk had the advantage of a bit of inside knowledge of the 6 members of our squad he has previously managed. Five of them from his time at Leeds, plus Bamford at Middlesbrough.

Wednesday made much of the early running, and had the first chance when Reach was played through by a long ball. As ever, Casilla was very quick off his line and this time with justification, though we nearly had a problem when his clearance hit White on the way out. Thankfully the ball didn’t fall to any Wednesday player who would have had the chance to chip the ball over Casilla.

And Reach came racing through again a few minutes later, but just when he was about to shoot from close range, Ben White put in an excellent tackle to take the ball off his toe. Then Casilla was twice called into action, to keep out a long distance shot from Palmer, and making an even better save to tip an effort from Fletcher over the bar.

But as we moved into the later stages of the first half Leeds began to have a lot more of the possession, though as usual we let ourselves down with a couple of woeful crosses, to deny Bamford the service he needs. Our first shot on goal came from Alioski, but he didn’t have any time to set himself and could only send it some way over the bar.

We had half a shout for a penalty when White’s arm was pulled back by Nuhiu, and although the Sky panel made a lot of it I could see why it wasn’t given, as the challenge looked innocuous at normal speed. Just before the break we all thought Bamford had grabbed the goal he so desperately needs, heading it back past Westwood, but somehow the Wednesday stopper managed to change direction and divert the ball from it’s path into the bottom corner.

I remember Westwood being excellent against Leeds when keeping for Carlisle in the play-offs over ten years ago, so nothing has changed. And the afternoon got no better for Bamford, as he succumbed to the injury he suffered when getting his ankle trodden on, and was replaced by Eddie for the second half. Bamford was left looking noticeably glum whenever the camera showed the Leeds bench in the second half.

We still had the upper hand after the restart, and Phillips produced one of his better efforts from outside the box, sending a shot not too far from the top corner. But then Wednesday went very close with a shot from Fletcher that crashed down off the bar and fortunately went wide after hitting Casilla on the back.

Fletcher again went close when he narrowly failed to get a decent connection on a dangerous ball across the box from our former loan player Barry Bannan. But at the other end Eddie produced a good save from Westwood after a good run into the box. And Eddie was at the centre of controversy, with the Wednesday bench reacting furiously when he was allowed to continue after leaving a defender on the floor and setting up a chance for Harrison, which was cleared off the line by Fox.

In his efforts to hold off a challenge from behind Eddie caught a defender with his elbow, causing Sky to claim that he could have been in trouble if the referee had seen it. I didn’t think he’d swung his elbow with intent, though as I grew up watching football in the 70s I think proper violent conduct involves drawing blood at the very least. Hopefully if this incident is referred to the FA they will do the decent thing and let him off.

On 76 minutes Cooper came on for Costa, which seemed a bit odd, but the side was rebalanced with a reshuffle that saw Ayling go to right back and Dallas move further forward on the right to take Costa’s position. Perhaps the idea was to shore up the defence, but Leeds came close to snatching all three points right at the end, with a header from Alioski that came back off the post.

After the game Gary Monk rather strangely told Sky that Wednesday deserved to win, and his thoughts were echoed by an obsessive colleague of one of my friends, who forwarded me a summary of his texts. “A psychological victory for Owls…stronger and more threatening…not in the least cowed by Weeds…they’ll keep for better weather”… and so on. In other words, 0-0 in his cup final.

Needless to say I agreed with Marcello Bielsa’s assessment that a draw was a fair result, as both sides produced chances, but didn’t take them. It was a good away performance from Leeds, and although we didn’t dominate possession in the way we do in most games, we couldn’t expect to against one of the better sides in the division.

So for the second time in a week we’d picked up a point away from home to one of our promotion rivals. Which is very welcome, though we now need to follow this up with a home win next week against a QPR side who have also sneaked into contention when nobody was looking. So how about that 3-5-2 formation to give us a bit more bite up front?

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