ONE-time England international Jay Bothroyd claimed his first goal in Sheffield Wednesday colours as they drew 1-1 with high-flying Leeds United in a bad tempered Yorkshire derby, writes Dom Howson.
Bothroyd, who had gone almost a year without scoring, nodded in Michail Antonio’s long throw to put the hosts in front two minutes before half-time.
But Michael Tonge, formerly of Sheffield United, cancelled out Bothroyd’s opener, drilling in an unstoppable right footed half volley beyond Kirkland with 13 minutes left. After the leveller, a spectator came on to the field and confronted Kirkland, pushing him in the face with both hands. Seats were also thrown on to the pitch and the unsavoury incidents are likely to be investigated by the Football Association.
Under-fire Sheffield Wednesday manager Dave Jones made two changes to his starting line-up. Rhys McCabe was ruled out with a thigh injury, allowing Paul Corry to make his home debut in the middle of the park. Jones also brought in Daniel Jones at left-back.
By contrast, Jones’s opposite number Neil Warnock kept faith with the same side who defeated Barnsley before the international break.
After a shaky opening, it was the Owls who created the first meaningful opportunity of the contest. A lovely crossfield pass from Paul Corry sent Antonio scampering down the left flank and the powerful winger whipped in an inviting cross which Chris O’Grady met with a firm header but it went straight into the arms of Paddy Kenny.
Minutes later, Bothroyd let fly from distance and his fierce left-foot shot slipped through Kenny’s gloves and rattled the crossbar before bouncing to safety. The scoreboard lit up claiming it was a goal but the strike was not given.
Wednesday continued to threaten, with Antonio rising high to meet Bothroyd’s free kick but he headed over much to the amazement of the home contingent.
Leeds, backed by 5,000 supporters, came close to opening the scoring in the 19th minute through Tonge’s venemous free-kick but Chris Kirkland dived to his left and palmed the effort away.
Mid-way through the half, the hosts were denied a blatant penalty when Luciano Becchio punched away Bothroyd’s dangerous corner. A number of Owls players surrounded the referee appealing to the referee to change the decision but their protests fell on deaf ears.
But Wednesday did not have it all their own way and Tonge tricked his way past Lewis Buxton to the byline just after the half hour mark before delivering a teasing centre and it took an inch perfect tackle from Miguel Llera to deny Becchio a sight at goal.
Brown went down in a heap after an off the ball collision. Wednesday played on and a rasping drive from the impressive Corry was well kept out by Kenny.
Two minutes before the interval, the Owls went ahead when Bothroyd headed home Antonio’s long throw in. It was no more than they deserved. Replays showed O’Grady was standing in an off-side position.
For the majority of the first period, Leeds were under the cosh as Wednesday carried the greater threat. It was no surprise Warnock made a change, replacing the ineffectual Rodolph Austin with David Norris, who was heavily linked with a move to Wednesday in the summer.
In a full-blooded, feisty encounter, Daniel Jones was the first player to be cautioned after he fouled Aidan White. Anthony Gardner soon followed him into the referee’s notebook in the 52nd minute after he hauled down El-Hadji Diouf. From the resulting free-kick, Tonge’s effort landed on top of the net.
Having weathered the storm, the Owls suddenly burst into life and Bothroyd mis-kicked horribly after great play on the left from Antonio.
Wednesday’s two centre-backs; Llera and Gardner, combined well in the 62nd minute only for the latter’s attempt to be deflected out for a corner.
Jones’ men kept pressing for a second and the skilful Antonio saw his half volley go into the side-netting just before Ross Barkley mis-directed a header as another chance to kill off the match went begging.
And Leeds made them pay for their profligacy when Tonge unleashed a gem of a right foot volley from 25 yards which flew past Kirkland. The travelling fans went delirious and one Leeds supporter invaded the pitch and attacked Kirkland, pushing him directly in the face with both hands. The goalkeeper, signed on a free-transfer in the summer, laid on the floor for several minutes and received treatment from the Owls medical staff. Thankfully, Kirkland shook off the blow and play was eventually re-started.
OWLS: Kirkland, Buxton, Llera, Gardner, Jones, Semedo, Bothroyd, Corry, Barkley, Antonio, O’Grady. Subs: Bywater, Taylor, Madine, J Johnson, Rodri, Pecnik, Mayor.
LEEDS: Kenny, Peltier, Pearce, Lees, Byram, White, Austin (Norris HT) Brown, Tonge, Diouf, Becchio. Subs: Ashdown, Drury, Green, Varney, Gray, Hall.
Referee: Eddie Ilderton (Tyne and Wear).