LEEDS UTD ......2 SHEFF WED ......1

The Football League Paper - - CHAMPIONSHIP - By Pippa Field

NEW boss Brian McDermott claimed he put his neck on the line by ac­cept­ing the chal­lenge of keep­ing Leeds in the Cham­pi­onship.

But af­ter all but se­cur­ing their sta­tus with vic­tory over rel­e­ga­tion – and York­shire – ri­vals Sh­effield Wed­nes­day in his first game in charge, he be­lieves the risk has been jus­ti­fied.

Two Luke Var­ney goals in the space of six sec­ond-half min­utes can­celled out Jer­maine John­son’s first half-strike and handed the hosts a valu­able three points.

It was their first win in eight games, and former Read­ing man­ager McDermott – who was un­veiled as the new Leeds boss on Fri­day – re­vealed the of­fer to take over at Elland Road was too good to turn down, even with the club em­broiled in a rel­e­ga­tion scrap be­fore the week­end.

“What you first and fore­most want to see is peo­ple that are mov­ing in the same di­rec­tion,” he said. “You can­not have any success oth­er­wise.

“And that in­cludes the board, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, the chief scout, ev­ery­one. Peo­ple talk to me about the fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion here. I will not be ar­gu­ing with boards.

“We all need to be 100 per cent be­hind each other and I get the sense that is the case.

“I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t get the right feel­ing. There prob­a­bly isn’t a club that I would have gone to at this stage.

“I am putting my­self on the line with five games to go. But it just felt right, and to be sat here as man­ager of Leeds United is fab­u­lous for me.

“Sh­effield Wed­nes­day have been on a good run, so it’s a big win for us.

“We didn’t think we should have gone 1-0 down but it was a good re­sponse. I thought the play­ers were brave.”

The vis­i­tors took the lead on 27 min­utes as Stephen Warnock’s hes­i­ta­tion al­lowed John­son to lob keeper Paddy Kenny. The Whites im­proved af­ter the break as Ross McCor­mack’s 52nd-minute shot forced keeper Chris Kirk­land to parry – Var­ney un­able to fol­low up.

Sub­sti­tute El-Hadji Diouf then saw his shot de­flected over as Leeds con­tin­ued to press.

The break­through came on 63 min­utes as Ross McCor­mack’s invit­ing right-wing cross was headed in off the bar by Var­ney.

And the pair com­bined six min­utes later as McCor­mack drove into the box be­fore chip­ping in a floated cross for Var­ney to nod home.

Wed­nes­day al­most got them­selves an equaliser nine min­utes from time but sub­sti­tute Steve Howard’s vol­ley bounced back off the post.

Owls boss Dave Jones – miss­ing from the dugout as he served the first of his twogame touch­line ban – be­lieved his side’s loss of con­cen­tra­tion had cost them the vic­tory that would have eased their own rel­e­ga­tion wor­ries.

“We should have won it. Full stop,” he said. “We switched off for 15 min­utes and we al­lowed two goals that we should never ever al­low.

“One, you have got to stop the cross and two, you can’t give play­ers free head­ers. It was the ba­sic er­rors that we made that have cost us.

“It’s frus­trat­ing be­cause they’ve caused us no has­sle apart from a ten to 15 minute spell where it was our own down­fall.

“We switched off and then we go up the other end and we could have had not just an equaliser but also a win­ner along­side at the end.

“But that’s what hap­pens in foot­ball. If you are not fully fo­cused for 90 min­utes then things like that hap­pen to you.

“We should never have lost the game, it was there for us.”

HUGS ALL ROUND: Luke Var­ney cel­e­brates af­ter scor­ing the sec­ond goal

HANG TIME: Luke Var­ney scores the sec­ond goal for Leeds

PIC­TURES: Ac­tion Im­ages

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