What a day for Sheffield Wednesday, demolishing Leeds United 6-0 at Hillsborough.
Leeds fans sat only in the upper tier of the West Stand today - ruling out any chance of a carbon-copy repeat of last season’s attack on Chris Kirkland by an assailant who emerged from the lower level.
The away fans virtually filled their section by the start of a game that was televised live.
Leeds had come to have a go, playing new loan wide men Cameron Stewart (from Hull) and Jimmy Kebe (Palace) on either side of 18-goal Ross McCormack and starting as usual with three at the back.
But it was the Owls, in a 4-4-2, who very nearly created the first chance, in the fifth minute. Nuhiu slipped a pass through the middle to Maghoma, who lost his balance as he headed towards the Leppings Lane goal and fell over before he could bring the ball under control and shoot.
Leeds inevitably got men forward, yet were hit on the break when Maghoma could have put Wickham though. The pass was a fraction behind the striker, who was forced a little wide: he still got in a strike at goal, past the far post.
It was an open contest, and the first goal vcame in the 20th minute. The ball came out to Lee on the edge of the box. Hre chipped it forward, the unmarked JOHNSON chested it down, and sent Kenny the wrong way with a right-foot finish from close range for his second goal in successive games and third of the season.
The Owls looked confident and pretty sharp in their movement and passing, so much so that Leeds were not able to retain possession enough to build up forward momentum.
Kenny watched a 30-yarder by Maguire all the way and beat it away but it was a terrific strike and another reason for appreciation from home fans.
Wednesday also won tackles and interceptions and, when around their box, defended soundly.
Their confidence was reflected in a run and shot by Wickham, who took on the Leeds defence.and went for goal, tamely, when really he should have passed to Nuhiu. NUHIU, though, was the beneficiary when it became 2-0 in the last minute of the half’s normal time,
A strong tackle by Johnson in the Owls half launched a break. Wickham slipped a fine ball to the overlapping Lee; he could have shot but played a super ball to the far post where Nuhiu slotted home his third goal of the season.
It should have been 3-0 with the last kick before half time: Palmer was in yards of space in the box but shot wide.
Leeds had been so markedly second-best that Brian McDermott made a half-time change, taking off one of his three centre halves, Lees, and sending on big striker Smith to accompany McCormack in a switch to 4-4-2.
But Smith had been on for less than two minutes when he flattened Johnson and was subsequently sent off. It was likely to prove a controversial decision. In a challenge between the two, Smith’s left elbow caught Johnson in the head, but Leeds would no doubt argue that the arm was down by the striker’s side and that contact was accidental.
Whether Leeds would quickly have got back into a game where so far they had been outplayed, no-one would ever know, but the red card was a terrible blow to them, and WICKHAM delivered another with his eighth goal in 10 appearances.
The loan striker produced his forte, making a shot for himself when there seems not enough room, and his low, left-foot drive was too good for Kenny.
Wednesday had the space and confidence to knock the ball around, to cries of “ole” from the crowd. But they were desperate for more goals as well.
Twice in quick succession Wickham was selfish in shooting when team-mates were available in the box.
Gray could afford to take off Nuhiu - who has been playing despite a shoulder injury - and give a 65th minute outing to Lavery, after the young striker’s recall from his Plymouth loan.
Two minutes later it was 4-0. From a free-kick around 28 yards out, MAGUIRE let fly and the ball took a big deflection that gave the wrong-footed Kenny no chance and the Owls forward his second goal in three games.
Jermaine Johnson was given a run, on for Maghoma, and from a fine cross by him, Wickham again could have done better: he miscued a shot wide when a pass was on.
Wednesday’s grip was iron tight, more so when LAVERY, in an 80th minute break down the middle, clipped home a shot that went on in off the post - his first goal for the Owls, coming after his three while on loan with Plymouth.
In the fourth minute of stoppage time, LAVERY smacked a right-foot shot from 18 yards into Kenny’s left-hand corner - what a great day for the youngster and for Wednesday.