TWO second half goals from former Owl Luke Varney saw Leeds United come from behind against Sheffield Wednesday.
Varney had a villain-to-hero transformation at Elland Road as his brace of headers helped Leeds earn themselves some relegation breathing space and give new boss Brian McDermott a win in his first game in charge.
Signed by unpopular former manager Neil Warnock, Varney has spent large parts of this season as a terrace boo boy but his contribution here, cancelling out Jermaine Johnson’s opener, has gone a long way to repairing that, although Wednesday may want to review his first which was given by a linesman as it came down off the bar.
Steve Morison wasted a golden 10th-minute chance when he mis-kicked in front of a near-open goal, while Rudy Austin spurned a number of other good opportunities with wild shots from distance.
At that point Wednesday had still to amount an attack of note but all that changed when the took the lead.
Chris Kirkland’s clearing kick was allowed to bounce by Jason Pearce and, with centre-back partner Stephen Warnock caught ball-watching, Johnson nipped in between him and Kenny and coolly lobbed the advancing keeper.
Minutes later Leeds thought they had a penalty when Stuart Holden clipped Adam Drury in the box but a free-kick was given on the edge and McCormack’s shot was cleared off the line by Miguel Llera.
Coke was subbed off at the break and the Owls received a let off five minutes after the restart when Morison, clean through after a Llera slip, dallied and eventually fell over as Reda Johnson chased him down.
Leeds had confidence, though, and pressed on, with Kirkland spilling a McCormack shot and Varney and Green combining to fail to make use of the rebound with an open goal.
El-Hadji Diouf then had a near miss with a deflected effort, as did Varney, but the latter would not be denied in the 64th minute, connecting with a McCormack cross and having his header given as goal by the linesman as it bounced down off the bar.
McCormack’s cross made the goal all the easier to score and three minutes later the pair linked up again to devastating effect. McCormack went on a run not too dis-similar to the one Sergio Aguero went on against Manchester United on Monday but, rather than shooting, he stood up a cross for Varney who did the rest.
Having gone into their shell after their goal, Wednesday had to wake up and they did; Steve Howard cracking the post with a volley and Paddy Kenny producing a brilliant to stop in the midst of a scramble, before Leroy Lita dragged wide when well set.
Leeds would hold on, though, giving McDermott the instant impact he craved.