Sheffield United 0-0 Sheffield Wednesday: Owls boss Jos Luhukay oversees opening draw
By Dan Long
Last Updated: 13/01/18 12:34pm
Sheffield United moved back into the Sky Bet Championship play-off places on Friday evening after an entertaining stalemate with ten-man Sheffield Wednesday in the Steel City derby.
Chris Wilder's men, who had won only once in the league since mid-November, started on the front foot but for all their dominance, they did not test Joe Wildsmith in the Owls' goal in the first half.
Both Wildsmith and opposition stopper Simon Moore made superb stops in the second half with the latter recovering extremely well to tip Adam Reach's drive around the post after a collision with Richard Stearman, while Glenn Loovens was sent off for a second booking (64).
The draw is United's tenth of the season but one that sees them climb into the play-offs, for the evening at least; Wednesday, meanwhile, claim an important point and one that Jos Luhukay will be keen to build on as his spell in charge gets underway.
Sheffield United: Moore (7), Baldock (7), Basham (7), Stearman (6), O'Connell (7), Stevens (6), Lundstram (6), Duffy (7), Fleck (7), Clarke (5), Donaldson (6)
Subs: Wilson (5)
Sheffield Wednesday: Wildsmith (7), Palmer (7), Venancio (6), Loovens (5), Pudil (7), Fox (6), Jones (6), Reach(6), Wallace (6), Rhodes (5), Joao (6)
Subs: Boyd (5), Nuhiu (5), Clare (N/A)
Man of the match: Daniel Pudil
The Blades were the triumphant party when the two sides met back in September; the newly-promoted surprise package secured an unprecedented 4-2 victory against their bitter rivals.
And there was no shortage of action as the return derby got underway under the Bramall Lane lights. In fact, in the opening ten minutes or so, you could hardly catch a breath as John Lundstram and George Baldock saw chances go begging.
Home advantage was clear from the off and United looked particularly potent on the left flank, but the visitors influence grew throughout the half; Jordan Rhodes headed wide, before Lucas Joao chopped inside Jack O'Connell and dinked inches over the bar.
Wildsmith's first action of the game was to superbly tip Clayton Donaldson's header over the bar, before the end-to-end action continued with Daniel Pudil rifling an effort inches wide and Simon Moore's one-handed save from Ross Wallace's shot.
Chris Wilder reverted to the starting line-up that secured an impressive draw with Derby on New Year's Day, making a total of seven changes to the side that beat Ipswich 1-0 in the FA Cup third round last weekend.
New Owls boss Jos Luhukay made just two selection changes from the FA Cup stalemate with Carlisle - Jordan Rhodes and Daniel Pudil taking the places of George Boyd and Atdhe Nuhiu.
The Owls were down to 10 men just after the hour mark as Loovens received a second yellow when he brought down Donaldson, and they were almost punished around 10 minutes later when Leon Clarke nodded Mark Duffy's free-kick wide from close range.
Wednesday were almost gifted a chance of their own when an accicdental clash between Moore and Stearman momentarily injured the stopper; Reach leapt on the loose ball and drove a shot goalwards, but Moore recovered in stunning fashion to turn the ball round the framework.
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The atmosphere was ramped up in the final minutes of the game and it would have been fitting for the hosts to grab a late sucker-punch winner, but Lundstram lashed the final chance over the bar and moments later, that was that.
Man of the match - Daniel Pudil
Making just his fifth appearance after returning from an injury sustained in late October, Pudil was one of the shining lights for Wednesday, troubling the United backline with his long throws and even going close to winning the game on two occasions with powerful drilled efforts.
Chris Wilder: "It shows how far we have come, to take four points from six from the other side of the city. I thought we played OK-to-well, but that doesn't win you games. A draw was a fair result and I congratulate the opposition because they ran around and competed. But that is a given for my side.
"I think Carlos Carvalhal might be a little disappointed watching that from south Wales because they are a good football club with good players and we are a good football club with good players but we run around every game. If we win a few games we can go far. I don't want to be on the beach in May. I want to be the ones that take second or gets in the play-offs. I don't want to be finishing eighth or ninth."
Jos Luhukay: "I enjoyed it, I am very happy to be here. The game was very hard for us but I must give my team a compliment and I have respect for the fight they gave me for 90 minutes. The last 25 minutes was not so easy but we did the defending as a team and at the end we had two good chances. I think this draw we can live with, but we could have also won it.
"The atmosphere, the passion... this is football, you live for football, you enjoy football, I liked it very much. What they did today gave me hope for the next games. You feel it from the first minute until the end. I am happy with that."
The Blades have a week to prepare for their next fixture, against Norwich City at Carrow Road next weekend, while Sheffield Wednesday are in action on Tuesday evening in their FA Cup third round replay as they welcome Carlisle to Hillsborough.