A dubious David Healy penalty after 70 minutes gave Leeds the spoils in the first Yorkshire derby of the season.
But the result may have seemed harsh on a battling Owls team that missed a number of glorious chances in the first half. Deon Burton and Burton O’Brien were the main culprits for Wednesday – who have yet to win at home this season.
And the Owls have been dealt a further blow with the news that Brad Jones is set to miss the next three matches through suspension after felling Healy to give away the penalty.
On-loan Middlesbrough stopper Brad Jones was recalled to the Owls side after sitting out the midweek defeat against Wrexham as part of his loan conditions. Chris Adamson dropped to the bench.
Striker Deon Burton made his first start in the blue and white shirt this season after picking up an injury in pre-season. The former Derby man replaced Chris Brunt as the lone Owls striker.
New signing Lloyd Sam was also thrown in to the deepend after arriving from Charlton Athletic in midweek. The winger slash striker started on the right wing for the Owls with Chris Brunt operating just behind Burton in attack.
Graham Coughlan returned to the starting eleven after passing a late fitness test. Lee Bullen moved to the bench. Midfielder Burton O’Brien was also recalled at the expense of Kenny Lunt who dropped to the bench.
Tony Warner regained his place in the Leeds goal after Neil Sullivan made a welcome return to action for the Whites in the midweek cup win over Chester at Elland Road. Warner was making his final appearance for the Whites before returning to Fulham.
Kevin Blackwell welcomed back a number of new faces to the side after shuffling his pack for the midweek cup victory. David Healy returned to partner Ian Moore up front with Robbie Blake having to settle for a place on the bench.
The defensive partnership of Matthew Kilgallon and Paul Butler returned to bolster the Leeds defence while the experienced Gary Kelly also returned to complete the back four.
Shaun Derry, returned to run the centre of the midfield while Sebastian Carole continued to deputise for Steve Stone who is set to face two months on the sidelines through injury.
Wednesday: Jones, Coughlan, Simek, Bougherra, Spurr, Hills (Adamson 68), Whelan, O’Brien, Brunt (Lunt 82), Sam (Bullen 76), Burton.
Subs Not Used: McClements, McAllister.
Leeds: Warner, Kelly, Crainey, Butler, Kilgallon, Westlake, Lewis, Carole (Foxe 81), Derry, Healy, Moore.
Subs Not Used: Sullivan, Richardson, Blake, Beckford.
The first Yorkshire derby of the new campaign got off to a frantic start with end to end action. Leeds had an early call for a penalty waved away by the referee after Eddie Lewis thought he was felled by fellow American Frank Simek.
At the other end the Owls had the first chance of the game when impressive debutant Lloyd Sam creating a great chance for Deon Burton but the former Derby man fluffed his chance to the relief of the Leeds defence.
Burton O’Brien was then felled at the edge of the box and Chris Brunt had a dangerous free-kick at his disposal. And Brunt’s strike almost found the back of the Leeds net but Tony Warner was able to scramble to push the ball away for a corner.
The Owls’ West Yorkshire rivals hit back straight away though and forced the Wednesday defence back into their own half. Some good possession play from the visitors and dangerous corners from Eddie Lewis brought the best out of the Owls defence.
But Wednesday were soaking up the pressure well and hit Leeds on the counter-attack a number of times. A long kick from Brad Jones put Deon Burton through on goal but Burton lashed his shot wide of Warner’s goal. It was clear the Owls hitman wasn’t up to full fitness but he did his best to cause the Leeds defence problems.
And despite some good possession play by Leeds it was Wednesday were looking the more likely to score in attack. The best chance of the game undoubtedly fell at the feet of Burton after Lloyd Sam’s deflected cross came back off the post. Burton was slow to react and his close-range effort went sailing over the Leeds bar into their fans – which looked to have numbered less than 2,000 in the Leppings Lane end.
Half-time: Wednesday 0-0 Leeds
Wednesday continued where they left off in the first half when Lloyd Sam carved out a good chance to turn and shoot but his shot went straight into the arms of Tony Warner.
Leeds then moved up a gear and had their best spell of the game. Striker Ian Moore provided a great opening for Sebastian Carole on the Leeds right and his drive was well saved from Jones. Eddie Lewis was preparing to pounce on the rebound but Frank Simek managed to get his body in front of the ball and clear the danger.
The decisive goal came with 20 minutes to go when Brad Jones raced clear to upend Northern Ireland international Healy on 70 minutes. Looking at the replay, Healy looked to be offside when he pounced on the through-ball, and the Owls can consider themselves extremely unlucky.
Jones was promptly sent off after conceding a penalty for the second week running and Chris Adamson came on to replace John Hills and face Healy from the spot. And despite information from Chris Brunt – Healy’s Northern Ireland team-mate, the Leeds number nine slotted home to make it 1-0.
Owls boss Paul Sturrock brought on Lee Bullen and Kenny Lunt to replace Chris Brunt and Lloyd Sam respectively as the Owls looked to grab a late equaliser against their rivals.
And the Owls dominated the final ten minutes of play despite having just ten-men on the pitch. Graham Coughlan could even have won a late penalty for the hosts after being almost kicked in the head by a high foot from the Leeds defence. But the referee, unsurprisingly to the Owls fans, missed the incident and waved play on.
Steve Bennett’s performance didn’t please the majority of the 23,000 strong crowd at Hillsborough who chanted ‘You’re not fit to referee’ as the five minutes of stoppage time came to an end.
Full Time: Wednesday 0-1 Leeds
Despite Leeds’ possession the on-loan stopper didn’t have a save to make from the Leeds attack. And wether or not Healy was offside for the goal, it was a stupid challenge which gave Leeds the goal and ultimately won them the match.
Enjoyed a tough battle with his fellow American Eddie Lewis but probably came out on top. Made a couple of brilliant last ditch tackles to keep the visitors at bay.
Didn’t put a foot wrong all game. Man of the match for the Owls and coped well with the experience of the Owls attack. A great prospect for the future and a bright point on a disappointing day for the hosts.
Gave his usual 110% for the Owls and looks to be building a solid defensive partnership alongside Bougherra.
One of his better performances for the Owls since his arrivals at the club. Utilised his strength and pace well and helpe dout going forward late on too.
Another poor performance by the former Gillingham man. May struggle to regain his place from Spurr when the full compliment of Owls players (hopefully) return.
VERY frustrating player. Thought that Brunt may have arrived at Hillsborough on a good day early on when he produced a fine save from a free-kick but did little afterwards. Attitude must change. Lazy performance.
Has made an excellent start to the new season but he didn’t make his prescence felt today. Had a tough test against the experience Derry.
Was involved in some of the more promising Owls attacks but needs to get more involved in the game. Missed a guilt-edged chance in the first half.
A decent start to his Hillsborough career and seems to have bags of pace which will be a big bonus for Paul Sturrock to use either in midfield or attack. Needs to remember the studs for his boots next time though!
Struggled on his return from injury and may need a few weeks to get back into first team action. Held the ball up well on a few occassions and had the best chance of the game but somehow managed to blaze it over the bar.
Could have been an owls hero had he saved Healy’s penalty with his first bit of action of the game – but didn’t. Didn’t have much to do afterwards, either.
Gave his all as usual for the Owls and got into some good positions but never looked like scoring, or creating anything upfront.
Not enough time to impress. Played deep as he looked to play long balls for the Owls attackers. Could be recalled to the team in place of Brunt for the trip to Southend in two weeks time.
Paul Sturrock told the official SWFC site:
‘I’m gutted to lose a big derby game but we’ve given everything we’ve got. We’re so close to being a real solid side in this league.’
‘Premiership referees look disinterested when they come into this league. We had three definite penalties while theirs was offside to begin with and the challenge was outside the box. It’s not like me to complain about referees but I’d like the Premiership to keep their own.’
Kevin Blackwell told BBC Sport:
‘It was a clear penalty. The minute the keeper goes to ground he is asking for trouble.’
‘We had some great chances, we’ve put in a solid performance and we deserved to win.’