Clinical finishing was the difference as Wednesday made it two wins on the spin and heaped even more relegation trouble on Dennis Wise’s Leeds on Saturday in an action-packed Yorkshire derby at Elland Road on Saturday.
Marcus Tudgay netted his second on the spin as the Owls bossed the opening stages before Chris Brunt added another wonder goal to his scrapbook and Jermaine Johnson netted his first goal for the Owls at the end of a superb Wednesday move following Marcus Tudgay’s harsh dismissal after the restart.
But the 5,000 travelling Wednesday fans were made to sweat for the three points as a bizarre Lee Bullen own-goal and the now-customary Richard Cresswell strike gave the hosts ill-deserved late hope – but it was too little too late.
Owls boss Brian Laws made just one change to the side that helped Leeds out and beat Southend last weekend, with Richard Wood returning to the side following injury to make his first start of the season in place of Graham Coughlan who has been allowed compassionate leave.
Meanwhile, Leeds boss Dennis Wise left out midfielder Kevin Nicholls from the side after it later emerged the former Luton man had asked for a return to Kenilworth Road during the week following interest from Mike Newell, Charlton loanee Radoslav Kishished replaced him.
Dangerman Robbie Blake was also left on the bench by Wise with former Burnley attacker Ian Moore drafted in to the first team for a rare start.
The hosts were keen to pick up points on home soil and the clash was the first of two ‘winnable’ matches, with rivals Luton Town travelling to Elland Road for a proverbial six-pointer next week.
But it was Wednesday who came out the traps the quickest and they were rewarded as early as the seventh minute in front of the 5,000 travelling Wednesday fans behind the goal amongst the 25,000-strong crowd – the second biggest of the season for the Whites.
Chris Brunt’s dangerous cross was headed against the woodwork by Deon Burton, but as Glenn Whelan returned the clearance in to the box Marcus Tudgay made no mistake as he tucked a superb header over Graham Stack and underneath the bar to give Wednesday the early advantage.
The Owls looked comfortable for the first 15 minutes as the home support became frustrated in the early stages, but they had something to shout about as Ian Moore broke free inside the Owls box only to see the commanding figure of Everton loanee Iain Turner come racing from his line to produce the first of a fine number of saves.
The Whites fans appealed for a penalty shortly after as David Healy felt Steve Watson’s last-gasp tackle inside the box should have been penalised after the Northern Irish hitman looked to have turned him, but the referee waved away the protests.
Frazer Richardson also saw a rasping long-effort blocked while Turner increased his claim for man-of-the-match with another fantastic save, this time from Jonathan Douglas, and the recalled Wood made a superb block from David Healy’s rebounded effort.
The first half was a case of Turner v Healy, and the Scotsman came out on top with another superb save as he spred himself to deny Healy after the hitman broke free of Tommy Spurr inside the Owls box.
United hadn’t scored a goal in four games, and it was proving to be another one of those days for Dennis Wise and his men as the stubborn Owls defence – who hadn’t kept a clean sheet in 2007 – kept the Leeds attack firmly at bay.
And the Owls superb counter-attacking football paid dividends before the break as Frazer Richardson found himself in trouble on the right hand side and Chris Brunt continue his superb campaign with a top-class lob over Whites stopper Graham Stack from all of 40 yards to send the Owls fans in to raptures behind the goal, while the home fans couldn’t believe what they were seeing.
The goal had an obvious effect on the hosts as their passing became wayward and the home fans became increasingly frustrated with the lack of a final, cutting edge ball that was giving Wednesday so much joy at the other end.
Half-Time: Leeds 0-2 Wednesday
Leeds introduced dangerman Robbie Blake to proceedings in the second half in the hope that the former Birmingham man could create something in front of goal and give the hosts the much-needed spark in attack.
But it was Wednesday who again made the brighter start to the half, only to be halted four minutes after the break as referee Probert sent Marcus Tudgay off for a second bookable offence after the former Derby man looked to have kicked the ball goalwards after being caught offside.
Nevertheless, 10-man Wednesday continued to contain their hosts and they extended their advantage ten minutes later with Jermain Johnson’s first goal for the club after a flowing end-to-end move on the counter attack.
The clearance from the Owls box was expertly controlled by Deon Burton, and as Wednesday foundthemselves outnumbering the Leeds defence on the counter-attack, Burton found Whelan in field who in turn laid on Johnson to fire home an unstoppable shot from the edge of the box to seemingly make the points safe for Brian Laws’ men.
Cries of ‘you might as well go home’ from the travelling Wednesday fans were seemingly having an effect on some of the Elland Road faithful who began leaving the ground in frustration towards the team and the manager following Johnson’s strike.
But the Whites kept plugging away in search of something from the game but were thwarted time and time again by the resiliant Wednesday defence – determined to keep their first clean sheet of the new year – and it looked as though they wouldn’t hit the back of the net had they continued to play until midnight.
Former Owl Cresswell headed over from a David Healy cross while he came closest as the game drew to a close by hitting the bar with an emphatic overhead effort, while Eddie Lewis also saw his free-kick deflected to safety.
The breakthrough did come for Leeds in the final two minutes of the match – and it left Wednesday sweating a awful lot more than they should have been in the closing stages.
It needed something special for a goal from Dennis Wise’s men, and it came from the foot of Lee Bullen with two minutes remaining as a textbook clearance was sliced in to the back of the net.
Still, it seemed little more than a late consolation strike from the hosts, but all that was turned around just a minute later as the Whites threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Wednesday, resulting in Richard Cresswell continuing his goalscoring record against the Owls with a neat finish to lift the remaining United fans in Elland Road, and leave the near-5000 travelling Owls biting their nails as three minutes of injury time was shown by the fourth official.
Leeds continued to press and press and almost stole an undeserved point from the game late-on but Turner completed his man-of-the-match performance as his finger tips tipped Ian Moore’s header over the bar to see the Owls hold out and take all three points from their Yorkshire rivals to leave them firmly in trouble at the business end of the campaign.
Full-Time: Leeds 2-3 Wednesday
Leeds: Stack, Richardson, Marques, Heath, Lewis, Moore, Douglas, Kishishev (Carole 83), Howson (Blake 46), Healy, Cresswell. Subs: Ankergren, Johnson, Foxe.
Wednesday: Turner, Bullen, Simek, Wood, Spurr, Brunt, Watson, Whelan, Johnson (Small 72), Tudgay, Burton (MacLean 85). Subs: Adamson, Gilbert, Folly.
The on-loan Everton stopper produced a performance similar to another loanee goalkeeper from Merseyside – namely Scott Carson last season – to keep the hosts at bay on a number of occassions, allowing Wednesday to break and take all three points from the fiery encounter. David Healy in particular must be wondering just what he needed to do to beat the impressive Scot, and his final minute finger-tip save from Ian Moore summed up his top-class performance for the Owls.
Had his work cut out against Robbie Blake in the second half but he contained the former Birmingham man to hopeful crosses and long range efforts.
Came up trumps, and will have left the majority of his family disappointed as they watched amongst the Leeds fans at Elland Road.
Own goal aside, the Scot was a rock at the heart of the Wednesday defence and his never-say-die attitude rubbed off on his fellow defenders as they kept the Leeds attack at bay.
Superb performance on a normal match for the Wakefield-born centre-back, but it was even more impressive considering the pressure he was under throughout the match and the fact that it was his first start in over a year for the club.
Didn’t get the ball as much as he should have done, but his sublime finish wrapped up the victory for the Owls and when on posession of the ball, Eddie Lewis didn’t know how to handle him.
Not the type of game for Brunty to shine in, but he still managed to take the headlines with the Owls superb second which saw Leeds stopper Stack lobbed from all of 40 yards.
Did his job in the centre of midfield and more the helped out with his defensive experience.
Bags of energy in the centre of midfield to keep the Owls ticking. Cleared up in defence when called upon, and produced two assists for Tudgay and Johnson.
Superb header to break the deadlock early on, and will feel his sending-off was more than harsh in the second half.
Held the ball up superbly and was unlucky not to open the scoring himself as he hit the woodwork early on. Key part of the Owls third goal.
Looked to run at the Leeds defence as legs began to tire late-on but posed no real danger. Did his job for the time he was on the pitch.
No real time to impress for the short space of time he was on the pitch, but could be set for a start in a few games should the suspension of Tudgay stand.
Brian Laws told the official Owls site
‘It should have been all over really, we were looking comfortable at 3-0, even with ten men.
‘I couldn’t see them scoring a goal but then we have given them an OG and Lee Bullen is obviously gutted because we wanted a clean sheet today.
‘They were dead and buried but goals change games and that goal gave them a lift and it needed some solid defending and a little bit of luck to save it because with ten men we were always going to sit a bit deep and soak up pressure.’
Dennis Wise told Sky Sports
‘Please don’t knock my players. My players have done fantastic. They’re all in it together. They are trying to dig in and get out of it.
‘You’ll not see one of my players jack it in at the moment. They are giving me all the effort I could ask of them and they have got to keep doing what they’re doing and keep believing.
‘I genuinely believe we’ll get out of this. I do not regret taking on this job in a million years, I’m telling you.’