Sunday 5 October 2014

Sheffield Wednesday's Yorkshire derby draw at Leeds highlights the Blades' absence

There was plenty of blood and thunder to be found on the pitch in this Yorkshire derby, it's just a shame it wasn't happening in south, rather than west Yorkshire. 

For all the excitement of a fiery game which could have gone either way, a feeling that this is a secondary sideshow to the main event of yesteryear couldn't help but prevail. 

Perhaps it's because my dad is a Sheffield United fan so it adds extra spice in our house.

A average-sized faithful of 1,300 Owls fans travelled to Elland Road - with many put off by the early kick-off, the fact it was on telly and, crucially, the obscene 45 quid ticket demands - and were in fine voice. Plenty of back-and-forth between the fans, shots of angry managers and crunching challenges definitely gave this the feeling of a derby, particularly in the second half, but the empty seats and consigned nature of the players at the end belied a game which just wasn't against the Blades.

But the game itself was an entertaining affair. A bright start from the Owls was backed up by their usual defensive resolution - playing the offside trap beautifully as the partnership of Loovens and Lees continues to mature, albeit with some frailties. Keiren Westwood behind them - later named Man of the Match - was again in fine form showing great agility and was modest in saying the final result was a “fair reflection” of a game which would have been lost without him. 

Leeds' goal, stroked home from a high ball by defender Giuseppe Bellusci, was a bitter pill, not least watching controversial president Massimo Chillino dance on the sidelines but came after a host of chances early in the second half.

Up front, the second half partnership between Stevie May and Gary Madine for Wednesday looked lively and both could have scored via a cluster of chances but for a lack of composure. The Owls' goal, rifled in by Chris Maguire from the edge of the box after good work by Jacques Maghoma, was a delight. With the ball on the bounce, the first time finish was a fantastic moment, and one which fans will hope he can repeat consistently if the blue and white wizards are to stay in the top 10. Fans will also hope the result heralds a repeat of last season, when a 1-1 draw at Elland Road was followed by a 6-0 thrashing of Leeds at Hillsborough.

Wednesday's squad remains unfeasibly shallow to compete for the play-offs at this point but, after a nightmare start to last season, we're basking in the glow of a team with a rare tight defence and good endeavour.

On this evidence, only enduring the sight of the Blades making a successful promotion push will bring our arch enemies - and a true derby game - back to S6 soon. 

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