Our YEP Jury have their say on Leeds United’s home derby clash with Sheffield Wednesday
Saturday’s Yorkshire derby lived up to its billing with some bad tempers, seven yellow cards and a determined performance from both sides.
United took more baby steps of improvement with the strikers seeing far more chances than against Reading on Wednesday night and, but for the quality of Keiran Westwood in the Sheffield goal, Leeds could have won the tie.
The game began with more composed passing play but a familiarly frustrating lack of end product. Rodolph Austin was the main player for Leeds, driving the ball around the park while Tommaso Bianchi, Souleymane Doukara and Mirco Antenucci also impressed. Antenucci stuck the ball in the net with an accomplished finish but was correctly ruled offside.
After the break United looked to have taken the upper hand in the game but, when a fantastic finish from Wednesday’s Maguire broke the deadlock, all the composure drained from United’s game and it looked unlikely we would get back into it.
Step forward Giuseppe Bellusci. His all round play was nothing short of superb; picking off attackers at will, stroking the ball around the defence and playing his way out of trouble time and time again. When the ball reached him in the Owls box in the 79th minute he showed the type of composure well beyond many of the strikers we’ve seen at Elland Road in recent years. A very well executed finish from the centre half won Leeds a much-deserved point.
There has been some concern about Bellusci’s casual style of play this season, not to mention his evidently fiery nature. But all of his defensive risk-taking paid off on Saturday while the expressive attitude was on show when he confronted Maguire over a perceived insult and picked up a booking for his trouble.
Darko Milanic declared himself happy with the result and his week-long reign as Leeds United manager has shown promising progression. There are still mysteries to be solved however. The excellent Stephen Warnock was left out yet again, this time for a right back. Gaetano Berardi’s performance was competent but not at the levels Warnock has shown this season.
The ongoing will-he won’t-he saga of Adryan is another subject of confusion in the Leeds support.
Being aware of his reputation but with no real knowledge of his ability or potential, his omission seems to be either careless or ominous.
If Milanic spends the next fortnight further improving the team’s system then we can hopefully look forward to the first win of his tenure at Rotherham on Sky next Friday night.
Man of the match: Giuseppe Bellusci.
Leeds were on the front foot from the first whistle and Rudy Austin tested Westwood but the keeper was equal to the blockbuster from the Jamaican.
Both Leeds strikers worked hard to find some space behind a resolute Owls defence. Possession was even as the half progressed and Leeds were playing some lovely football but again the final ball was just not clinical enough. May had a great chance for the visitors but put it wide in the last action of the half.
The second half started with Antenucci having a couple of opportunities with the second brilliantly saved by Westwood. Against the run of play, Sheffield then went ahead when Maguire beat Silvestri but Leeds were nearly level from the restart when Antenucci was thwarted again by Westwood. May could have doubled the visitors lead but pulled his shot wide.
There was a rush of bookings as the match could have boiled over as Berardi, Maguire, Bellusci and Byram gave the referee some writing practice. Sharp replaced Doukara as Leeds sought a equaliser and it came when a free-kick found Bellusci whose delightful side footer finally beat Westwood with 11 minutes to go. This was a better display than the previous two. Leeds passed the ball with confidence and only Westwood stopped a deserved Leeds victory.
Man of the match: Tommaso Bianchi.
We were very unlucky not to get three points in a game that became feisty towards the end.
I thought we were the better team throughout and only had a ten-minute wobble when we conceded.
Move forward and keep going.
Man of the match: Jason Pearce.
I don’t know what to think of Saturday, we played really well and didn’t deserve to lose but did we do enough to win?
There were a lot of shouts around me saying we lacked creativity but I disagree. We created some real good opportunities; Antenucci had two one-on-one’s and if it weren’t for Keiran Westwood’s reflexes, they would have been buried.
Last year we would have lost that game; we were dominant throughout and after going a goal down we showed some real character to find an equaliser. Tommaso Bianchi was again outstanding. He looked really comfortable playing that holding role – he creates so much time on the ball for himself.
Man of the match: Tommaso Bianchi.
A much improved performance saw Darko Milanic register his first goal in a game which United nearly lost but were unlucky not to win. Alex Mowatt and Mirko Antenucci played well but Guiseppe Bellusci capped a fine display with a late equaliser.
Man of the match: Guiseppe Bellusci.
Leeds United produced a much improved performance and were unfortunate only to take a point from an entertaining derby match.
Peppe Bellusci provided the stand-out moment, side-footing the equaliser as the ball dropped to him in the penalty area. Darko Milanic can take a lot from this match. Leeds were the better side for large parts of the match, the football was as attractive as any played so far this season, and they earned a point from a losing position. With an international break to come, Milanic has a little more time to imprint his philosophies on the team. Let’s hope that he is allowed to do his job without any interference.
Man of the match: Alex Mowatt.